CPA Tutorial Part 1 - What is a CPA Network?
A CPA network is an affiliate network with a twist. CPA is an acronym that has two meanings: cost per acquisition and cost per action. CPA as in the expression "CPA networks" means cost per action.
A CPA network works like this: you have the affiliate (the one promoting the offers), the merchant (the one putting up the offers), the offers (the things that you promote) and, finally, the CPA network (which is the bridge between the affiliate and the merchant).
Every time a third-party does the necessary actions on an offer that he landed on through you, the affiliate, you get paid. How much? Well, the CPA can range from $1 to $80. How is this better than a standard affiliate network? Well, what do you think is easier - making someone give you their zip code or their credit card number?
Each customer you refer and get paid for is called a "lead". What you're doing is practically referring potential customers to companies. This method of advertising is better than pay per click and others because of two reasons: the affiliate (or publisher in the case of PPC) gets more money and the merchant pays on a specific action, not on hoping to get an action. Not all leads are targeted, but the more specific a CPA offer is, the harder it is to get an un-targeted lead: no one will fill out a 15 field form just for the sake of it - they have to be genuinely interested in the offer. This is generally none of the affiliate's concern, it's largely the merchant's problem.