What are CPC, CPM, CPA, CPL, CPI, and CPS media buying models?

Understand the various pricing models used in digital advertising. Learn how CPM, CPC, CPL, CPA, CPS, and CPI marketing models work.

Getting your message in front of the right people is key to driving conversions and increasing revenue. But with so many media buying models available, it can be tough to know which one is right for your business. In this comprehensive blog post, we'll explore the ins and outs of five popular media buying models: CPM, CPC, CPL, CPA, and CPS. Along the way, we'll define each model, explain how it works, and highlight its advantages and limitations. So whether you're new to digital advertising or a seasoned pro, read on to discover how each of these models can help you achieve your marketing goals. And if you're wondering "what is CPI in marketing?" - don't worry, we've got you covered there too.

CPM Media Buying Model

CPM (Cost Per Mille): CPM stands for Cost Per Mille, where "mille" refers to one thousand impressions. In this model, advertisers pay a fixed rate for every 1,000 times their ad is displayed to viewers, regardless of whether the viewers interact with the ad or take any specific action. CPM is often used in brand awareness campaigns, where the primary goal is to maximize the reach and exposure of the advertisement. It allows advertisers to estimate the cost of reaching a specific number of people and helps in creating broad awareness among the target audience.

Subscribe to our newsletter

CPC Media Buying Model

CPC (Cost Per Click): CPC, or Cost Per Click, is a media buying model in which advertisers are charged each time a user clicks on their ad and gets directed to their website or landing page. Unlike CPM, CPC focuses on actual user engagement and measures the effectiveness of an ad based on the number of clicks it receives. This model is commonly used for campaigns that aim to generate website traffic, increase user engagement, or drive specific actions such as newsletter sign-ups or lead generation.

CPL Media Buying Model

CPL (Cost Per Lead): CPL stands for Cost Per Lead. In this model, advertisers pay for each lead or inquiry they receive from interested users. A lead is typically defined as a user who expresses interest in a product or service by completing a specific action, such as filling out a contact form, subscribing to a newsletter, or downloading gated content. CPL is commonly used in lead generation campaigns, where the focus is on capturing user information for potential follow-up and nurturing.

CPA Media Buying Model

The CPA model is one of the most popular media buying models in the digital marketing world. This action can vary based on the advertiser's objective and can include purchases, registrations, app downloads, or any other measurable conversion. Advertisers define the desired action, and payment is made to the publisher or advertising platform only when that action is achieved. CPA provides a more performance-oriented approach, allowing advertisers to optimize their campaigns based on the cost-effectiveness of acquiring customers or conversions. It is a performance-based model that allows advertisers to pay only when a specific action is taken by the user, such as making a purchase or filling out a form.

CPA offers many advantages, such as reduced risk for the advertiser and increased ROI. However, it also has some limitations, such as the fact that it requires a high level of tracking and optimization to ensure that the desired actions are being taken by users. To make the most of your CPA campaigns, it's important to have a deep understanding of your target audience and to create compelling and targeted ad content that encourages them to take action. You'll also need to closely monitor your campaigns and make adjustments as needed to ensure that you're getting the best possible results. Finally, it's important to remember that CPA campaigns require patience and persistence, as it can take time to see the desired results. By following these tips and best practices, you can ensure that your CPA campaigns are a success and help you achieve your marketing goals.

CPS Media Buying Model

CPS, or Cost Per Sale, is a performance-based advertising model where advertisers only pay when a sale is made. This model is ideal for businesses that sell products or services online, as it allows them to track the exact ROI of their advertising campaigns. CPS is often used in affiliate marketing, where publishers promote an advertiser's product or service and earn a commission for each sale they generate. One advantage of CPS is that it eliminates the risk of paying for clicks or impressions that don't result in a sale. However, CPS can be challenging to set up and manage, as it requires a reliable tracking system to accurately attribute sales to specific advertising campaigns. To ensure the success of a CPS campaign, advertisers should carefully select their affiliates and provide them with high-quality promotional materials, such as banners, text links, and product images. By doing so, they can increase the likelihood of generating sales and maximizing their ROI.

CPI Media Buying Model

CPI, or Cost Per Install, is a media buying model that has become increasingly popular in the mobile app marketing industry. CPI refers to the cost that an advertiser pays for each installation of their app. This model is particularly useful for app developers who are looking to drive installs and engagement for their product. One of the biggest advantages of using CPI is that it allows advertisers to only pay for installs, rather than impressions or clicks. This means that advertisers can be sure that they are only paying for users who have taken a specific action that is directly related to their business goals.Another advantage of CPI is that it can be a more cost-effective option for advertisers, especially those who are just starting out.

With CPI, advertisers can set a budget for their campaign and only pay for installs that fall within that budget. This can help to avoid overspending and ensure that their advertising dollars are being used effectively.However, there are also some limitations to using CPI. One of the biggest challenges is that it can be difficult to measure the quality of installs that are generated through this model. Advertisers may end up paying for installs that are not actually valuable to their business, such as those from users who quickly uninstall the app or who do not engage with it after installation. Additionally, CPI can be a more competitive space than other media buying models, which can drive up costs and make it more difficult to achieve a positive return on investment.Overall, CPI can be a valuable option for app developers who are looking to drive installs and engagement for their product. However, it is important to carefully consider the potential limitations and challenges associated with this model before investing in a CPI campaign.


In conclusion, understanding the various media buying models in marketing is crucial to making informed decisions about your advertising campaigns. Each model has its advantages and limitations, and it is important to choose the one that best fits your marketing goals and budget. While CPM is a popular model for brand awareness campaigns, CPC is ideal for generating clicks and driving traffic to your website. CPL and CPA are great for lead generation and sales, respectively, while CPS is suitable for e-commerce businesses. CPI, on the other hand, is perfect for mobile app marketing. By considering the unique features of each model and analyzing your campaign goals, you can optimize your marketing efforts and achieve better results. So, whether you're new to marketing or an experienced marketer, understanding CPM, CPC, CPL, CPA, CPS, and CPI marketing can help you make informed decisions and drive the growth of your business.

Weekly newsletter
No spam. Just the latest releases and tips, interesting articles, and exclusive interviews in your inbox every week.
Read about our privacy policy.
Thank you! You're now subscribed!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Scale Revenue with Better Customer Data
Talk with an expert today!
Get a Free Trial
or Get Started today!

Related Posts

Office setting

UX review presentations

How do you create compelling presentations that wow your colleagues and impress your managers?
Drew Cano
11 Jan 2022
5 min read
Man working at desk

Migrating to Linear 101

Linear helps streamline software projects, sprints, tasks, and bug tracking. Here’s how to get started.
Phoenix Baker
11 Jan 2022
5 min read
Man pinning images on wall
Software Engineering

Building your API Stack

How do you create compelling presentations that wow your colleagues and impress your managers?
Olivia Rhye
11 Jan 2022
5 min read

PM mental models

Mental models are simple expressions of complex processes or relationships.
Natali Craig
11 Jan 2022
5 min read
Desk with computer
Software Engineering

Our top 10 Javascript frameworks to use

JavaScript frameworks make development easy with extensive features and functionalities.
Orlando Diggs
11 Jan 2022
5 min read