Cost Per Action


Cost Per Action (CPA) is a digital advertising model where advertisers pay for a specific action linked to an advertisement, such as a sale, click, or form submission. It is a way for the advertiser to mitigate risk as they only pay if the desired action is completed. This model is commonly used in affiliate marketing.


The phonetics of the keyword “Cost Per Action” is: /kɒst pər ˈækʃən/

Key Takeaways

Three Main Takeaways About Cost Per Action (CPA)

  1. Cost Effective Marketing Method: CPA is more cost-effective compared to other advertising methods. Rather than paying for each and every ad view or click (as in the case of Pay Per Click methods), businesses only pay when users actually complete a specified action like making a purchase or signing up for a service.
  2. Reduces Risk: CPA greatly reduces the risk for advertisers as they only need to pay when the desired action is completed. It ensures that companies are spending their advertising budget on successful conversions rather than just views or clicks, which may not necessarily lead to sales.
  3. Action Focused: CPA is highly action focused. It encourages advertisers to build effective and engaging advertisements that prompt users to perform a specific action. This helps companies to optimize their ad campaigns and focus on delivering more consumer-centric messages.


Cost Per Action, often abbreviated as CPA, is an essential technological term, particularly in digital marketing, as it is a critical metric that measures the aggregate cost to acquire a customer who clicks on a site link or does some specified activity. It’s significant because it helps businesses understand the value derived from specific marketing efforts. By determining the CPA, companies can assess the financial effectiveness of various marketing strategies. This insight helps them make informed decisions, optimize their online campaigns, streamline budgets, and advance return on investment. The lower the CPA, the better it is, as this indicates that acquiring a customer costs less, which can lead to improved profitability.


Cost Per Action (CPA), also known as “Cost per Acquisition,” is a key performance metric that is often used within online advertising and affiliate marketing models. The primary purpose of CPA is to systematically measure and control the spend associated with acquiring a new customer. It calculates the cost incurred for every action a user takes which leads to a conversion, such as form submission, sales transaction, or account sign-ups. Hence, CPA focuses greatly on ensuring that expenditure on advertisements translates into meaningful customer engagements and not just mere views or clicks.Utilizing this approach allows businesses to have a clear grasp on the return on investment of their digital marketing strategies. Unlike other advertising metrics, such as Cost Per Click or Cost Per Impressions, CPA prioritizes the quality of customer interaction over the quantity. By keeping track of CPA, marketers can optimize their advertising strategies towards exercises that lead to actual sales or conversions, rather than just raising awareness. Consequently, this results in better budget allocation, increases the efficiency of marketing campaigns, and helps drive the business’s overall growth.


1. Advertising on Social Media: Many businesses use platforms like Facebook or Instagram to advertise their products or services. These platforms often offer a ‘Cost Per Action’ (CPA) model. This means that the business only pays when a user not only clicks on their ad, but also completes a specific action, such as filling out a form or making a purchase. This can be beneficial for the company because it ensures that they are only paying when the ad has reached a level of success.2. Affiliate Marketing: In the realm of affiliate marketing, CPA is common. For instance, an online retailer like Amazon might pay affiliate marketers a set fee (CPA) for every new customer who signs up for their service or buys a product through the affiliate’s link. 3. Email Marketing: Companies also use CPA in email marketing. They might run a campaign where they pay a certain amount for every email subscriber who clicks a link in the email and then makes a purchase or signs up for a subscription. This again is beneficial for marketers as they are only paying when a direct action that profits the company is achieved.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

**Q1: What is Cost Per Action (CPA)?**A1: Cost Per Action, also known as CPA, is a digital advertising model where advertisers pay for specific actions that users take on their ads, such as clicks, impressions, form submissions, or sales. The “action” is typically tied to the advertiser’s ultimate goal, for example, making a purchase or signing up for a service.**Q2: How does CPA differ from other online advertising models?**A2: Unlike Cost Per Click (CPC) where advertisers pay for each click regardless of what happens afterward, or Cost Per Mille (CPM) where they pay for every 1000 impressions, in CPA, a payment is only made when the user carries out a specific action like buying a product or service.**Q3: Why might a business choose CPA over other options?**A3: Businesses might choose CPA if they want to optimize for specific, profitable actions like purchases or signups, rather than just impressions or clicks. With CPA, they essentially only pay for successful conversions, which can potentially offer higher ROI.**Q4: How is CPA calculated?**A4: The CPA is calculated by dividing the cost of the advertising campaign by the number of actions taken. For instance, if an advertiser spent $100 on a campaign and got 10 sales as a result, the CPA would be $10.**Q5: Can CPA be used in conjunction with other metrics?**A5: Yes, CPA can and should be used in conjunction with other metrics like conversion rate and average order value to get a fuller picture of an ad’s performance.**Q6: What affects the CPA of a campaign?**A6: Many factors can affect the CPA, including the quality of the ad, the target audience’s behavior, the landing page, and more. Anything that impacts the user’s likelihood to complete a conversion can alter the CPA.**Q7: Can beginners use CPA effectively?**A7: Yes, but it can take some time to understand and optimize. Proper analysis and strategy are key to a successful CPA campaign. Beginners might want to start with more straightforward advertising models like CPC or CPM before moving to CPA.

Related Finance Terms

  • Pay Per Click (PPC)
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Conversion Rate
  • Advertising Network
  • Landing Page Optimization

Sources for More Information


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