Marketing Dictionary. Cpc, Cpm, Cpa, Cpl – What These Metrics Show And How To Calculate Them

Updated on September 5, 2023

These are some of the most popular terms in marketing. We analyze each abbreviation, give formulas and explain when these indicators are used.

CPC, CPM, CPA, CPL are abbreviations that denote different advertising payment models. And these are common marketing metrics – indicators that are used to evaluate the effectiveness of marketing. They can be calculated regardless of which model is used to pay for advertising. In this article, we will look at the basic concepts. We will also analyze cpc vs cpm

CPC – Cost per Click

CPC stands for Cost Per Click. This is a model in which the advertiser pays for user clicks on ads or banners. It is also a metric that shows the average cost per click — that is, how much the advertiser will pay for each click on the ad and the user’s transition to the site.

Where the CPC payment model is used. 

Pay per click is a common advertising model. Here are a few channels where it is used:

  • Contextual advertising in search results. These are the ads that search engines like Yandex show based on what the user is looking for.
  • Advertising network “Google”. The network includes sites whose owners have agreed with Google to place ads. Ad units can be both text ads and banners.
  • Targeted advertising. This is advertising on social networks, most often on Facebook and Twitter. There are different formats of advertising in social networks: promotional posts, ads on the side of the news feed, and many others.
  • Teaser advertisement. These are advertisements that grab attention with a provocative headline or image. Such advertising is bought on special platforms – in teaser networks. Website owners connect to these networks to advertise and earn money.
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How to calculate the CPC metric. To calculate the cost of a click, you need to divide the amount of advertising costs by the number of clicks:

CPC = ad spend / number of clicks

What does CPC show? 

CPC is a metric that shows the effectiveness of attracting traffic. 

Perhaps competitors’ ads have a brighter design or their texts are stronger. Or maybe the offer of competitors is more attractive.

However, the metric does not show the effectiveness of marketing in general. It does not allow you to understand how many sales or leads traffic brings. CPC is highly dependent on niche and placement.

CPA – Cost per Action

CPA is a model in which the advertiser pays only for completed targeted actions. They can be applications on the site, purchases, installations of applications. In addition, CPA is a metric that shows the cost of a target action. Its value can be calculated regardless of which model the company uses to pay for advertising.

There are several types of CPA model, which differ from each other in targeted actions:

  • CPL (Cost per Lead) – fee for leads, or the cost of a lead. Here the result is the contacts of a potential client. These contacts will be used for promotional mailings, advertising launches and sales.
  • CPI (Cost per Install) – the cost of installing an application or program. Used for both desktop and mobile applications.
  • CPS (Cost per Sale) – payment for the sale, or the cost of the sale.
  • CPO (Cost per Order) – payment for the order, or the cost of the order.
  • CPV (Cost per Visit) is the fee for visiting a landing page. The result is a visit to the page within the specified time. This targeted action is of interest to companies that have posted a product catalog or price list on the site, but their products are bought offline, or companies that want to improve behavioral factors on the site.

Where the CPA payment model is used. 

It is used in CPA networks. CPA networks are intermediaries between advertisers and webmasters. Webmasters attract traffic at their own expense – for example, they buy ads – and advertisers pay for applications. Many large companies are advertised through CPA networks: banks, insurers, online stores.

CPA formula. Despite the large number of CPA subspecies, one formula is used for calculation. To find out the cost of a target action, you need to divide the amount of advertising costs by the number of target visits.

CPA = advertising spend / number of targeted visits

Target visits are visits to the site when users performed the actions needed by the advertiser.

In any case, you will have to pay more for a targeted action than for clicks and impressions. But at the same time, the advertiser will know that the buyer has completed the desired target action.

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What does CPA show?

The cost of the target action is often used to evaluate the effectiveness of marketing in general. CPA metrics show how much a company spends on customer acquisition. The numbers can be compared to revenue or profit from each sale.

CPM – Cost per Mille, pay per 1000 impressions

Sometimes you can find a transcript of Cost per Millenium. CPM is the price an advertiser pays for 1,000 ad impressions. It is also a model where the advertiser only pays for banner or ad impressions.

CPM formula. To calculate CPM, you need to know how much advertising budget was spent and how many views were received.

CPM = (advertising budget / number of views) × 1000

For example, a developer wants as many people as possible to know about his brand and new project. Therefore, he showed banners advertising new buildings for a week.

Where is CPM used? 

Pay per 1,000 impression ads can be run on social media, search engines, and teaser networks. When setting up advertising, you can choose which model – CPC or CPM – to pay for it.

Most often, the CPM model is used when they want to get coverage, not sales. In other words, when a company wants to show its ad to as many users as possible.

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Also, advertising for 1000 impressions is launched by new companies in the market or companies that have released new products. It will allow you to talk about yourself to a large number of people.

What does the CPM metric show? 

This is the cost of showing ads to the target audience. Most often, the metric is used to compare the price of advertising in different channels. However, CPM does not show the effectiveness of marketing in general. Traffic from a cheap channel may not turn into sales, but traffic from an expensive one may turn out to be profitable.

Briefly about payment models

  • CPC – pay per click. This model is the easiest way to control advertising costs and compare advertising campaigns.
  • Pay-per-click ads can be run for almost any advertising purpose: to increase sales, to remind old customers about yourself, to drive traffic to the site. But to increase brand awareness, it’s better to run pay-per-impression ads.
  • CPA is pay for actions. There are several types of CPA: CPL – pay for user contacts, CPI – pay for installing applications, CPO – pay for the order, CPS – pay for the sale, CPV – pay for visiting the landing page.
  • CPM – pay per 1000 impressions. The model is often used in campaigns whose goal is to show ads to as many users as possible.
Article by:
Kenny Trinh
While he’s not editing articles on the latest tech trends, he likes to discuss business and entrepreneur. His writing has been featured in national publications such as Forbes, RD, Yahoo Finance, HackerNoon among others.

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