Types of affiliate programs

There are various types of affiliate programs and affiliate networks. One way to categorize these programs and networks is by the way they pay its affiliates.

affiliate program types

Affiliate programs offers various compensations to its affiliates. Common ones are paid-per-click, paid-per-sale, paid-per-action, and paid-per-lead.

18. July 2024 by Click insider / Affiliate marketing

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Let's take a look at the main forms of compensation made by affiliate programs and affiliate networks:

  • Pay-per-click. This is used by Google Adsense, where the affiliate (also described as the publisher) will get compensated every time a visitor clicks an ad from Google AdSense on your site. In other words, by placing PPC ads on your website you will get paid per click.
  • Pay-per-lead. This alternative will pay advertisers for sign-ups. The advertiser will be earn money every time a user from the advertisers site is referred to another website, and then signs up to whatever it may be. While not an exclusive PPL network, CJ.com does have a large selection of pay-per-lead offers for its publishers.
  • Pay-per-sale. This is just as easy to understand as PPC. In PPS you will get paid a percentage for every sale. As the referrer you can get anything between less than a percentage of the sale, and up to over 100% of the sale. That's right: Some affiliate programs will pay you very little for a sale, and others will pay you more than the actual cost of the product or service (in the latter example this may be due to the fact that the seller is earning way more on backend sales). Examples of PPS affiliate networks include ClickBank and Amazon.com Associates.
  • Pay-per-action. In this affiliate program type you will get paid for a specific action done by the user. You may have heard of InfoLinks, where the publisher gets paid every time their users highlight a infolink on their site, and then hovers the link long enough (just a couple of seconds at most) so that a pop-up box appears.
  • Pay-per-call. This is still a rare form of affiliate marketing. The abbrevation PPC can be confused with pay-per-click, so we'd suggest you use the full name or simply PPCALL to avoid misconceptions. How pay-per-call works: The advertiser will get a special phone number (in the US, typically a 1-800-number) and then whenever someone calls using this number the advertiser will get compensated.
  • Pay-per-post. This is popular amongst bloggers. You don't usually find PPP offers in affiliate networks and in affiliate programs. Instead, these kind of offers are often made upon request: Bloggers and users of social media (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest++) will usually be contacted and asked if they are willing to write about X or post a picture of X wherever it may be. It is a myth that this option is only directed exclusively towards bloggers: Some affiliate programs do have sporadic offers where the affiliate will be paid for publishing a post on their website (in other words, it does not have to be a blog).
  • Pay-per-review. There are actually businesses that will pay its affiliates for posting fake reviews on sites like Amazon, IMDB, TripAdvisor and loads of other sites. Underground PPR businesses function as middlemen between affiliates and companies that orders these kinds of reviews. While many PPR offers fosters fake reviews and online spam, there are also legitimate uses. Examples of legitimate use include online shops where the customer can earn points by writing reviews of any products they have bought. One example is dx.com where reviewers will be rewarded with points for which can be used for buying stuff from the store.

The most common ways to pay affiliates today is payperclick, paypersale and payperlead. If you're new to affiliate marketing we reccomend you start out with affiliate programs offering one of these three options.

Learn more about affiliate marketing

How to find a good affiliate program

The affiliate programs listed in our affiliate program directory uses various forms of compensation to their affiliates.

It may be better to search for affiliate programs based on the services or products you can promote, rather than which payment model they have.

Start your search for new affiliate opportunities by selecting the categories appropiate to your website or business, then find the best affiliate programs in this category.

Your main consern should not be wheter the affiliate program offers PPC, PPA, PPL or PPS, but wheter or not the affiliate program is appropiate to your audience.

Furthermore, you should read reviews from other affiliates and learn which affiliate programs are good and which to avoid.

Cost-Per-Click / Cost-Per-Sale / Cost-Per-Lead

For all the business models above, try to replace the word Pay with Cost, as in cost-per-click (CPC), cost-per-lead (CPL), or cost-per-sale (CPS) and so on.

This changes the perspective: While affiliates will be rewarded for clicks, leads or sales, the advertiser will have to pay. The pay-per-click business model is the direct source of income for the affiliate, but for the advertiser it's part of the marketing budget, it's a cost.

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