Cost Per Lead (CPL)

This term is associated with lead generation, a monetization technique that is used by a relatively small portion of sites but that has the potential to be very lucrative. Lead generation involves collecting contact information about a visitor likely to be interested in a specific product or service and selling that information either to a lead aggregator or directly to a company selling those products.

For example, operates as a lead generation site; it captures information such as name and phone number from visitors interested in auto insurance policies, and sells that information to agencies able to write those policies.

Example of a CPL-Based Site

Under a CPL pricing model, the buyer of leads will pay a certain amount to partners for every qualified lead they are able to generate. Qualified leads refer to those that meet certain minimum standards that the buyer deems to indicate a worthwhile potential customer; non-qualified leads are generally removed during the lead scrubbing process.

Pricing Models 101

CPL is a relatively rare model for compensating site owners. Others more commonly used models include:

  • Cost per Impression (CPM): Advertisers pay for every impression shown.
  • Cost per Click CPC: Advertisers pay every time a visitor clicks an ad.
  • Cost per Action (CPA): Advertisers pay every time a visitor clicks an ad and then completes an action (such as creating a membership or completing a purchase.

The lines between CPL and CPA pricing models can blur in some cases when the specified action involves a referred visitor creating a membership or filling out a form that includes contact information. In fact, many affiliate marketers will list their programs with the amount of money paid “per lead.”

Example of Revenue per Lead Advertiser

Co-Registration CPL Models

Another example of a CPL pricing model is co-registration. This process involves presenting offers to visitors who have just completed some sort of signup process, and giving them the option to also register for these services. When they opt in, the contact information (often at least an email address and sometimes also a phone number or name) is passed to the advertiser. This contact information is a lead, and the publisher running the co-registration offers receives money every time this information is passed.

Below is an example of a co-registration form:

Example of CPL Pricing: Co-Reg on Time Inc Properties

For each of these boxes that is checked, the contact information (which was collected in the previous step) is passed on to the newsletter provider. For each lead collected, the publisher and network split revenue.