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Internet Advertising

CPM, PPC and PPA Ads Compared

Pros and Cons
Vaughn Aubuchon

The following summary chart compares the advantages and disadvantages of using CPM ads, PPC ads, and PPA ads, both for the internet Advertiser and the internet Publisher. The table also provides a risk analysis of the different ad types.


350 - 500


     CPM vs. PPC vs. PPA Ads
      Advantages vs. Disadvantages Comparison Chart

(Publisher is in COMPLETE control)
FastClick, Tribal Fusion



For the Advertiser:
1. LOWEST cost branding
2. Easy implementation - pay and forget
Site Targeting

For the Advertiser:
1. HIGH risk
2. Ads shown on run-of-the-mill websites

3. Poor conversion of RON ads
4. How to measure success?

For the Publisher:
1. LOW Risk
2. Guaranteed easy money
3. No concern about CTR
Ad placement

For the Publisher:
1. Very high traffic required
2. Low-paying ads - 10 for a penny
3. Clicks pay NOTHING
4. Annoying, problematic spyware for visitors


250 - 500

(Google or Yahoo is MAINLY in control)

Also known as Adsense for Content, AdBrite, Bidvertiser, Clicksor, Kontera, YPN, etc.



For the Advertiser:
1. Receives exposure even without clicks
2. Measurable success
3. Smartpricing
4. Site blocking filter list

For the Advertiser:
1. Must bid at the going rate for exposure
2. Shares risk with publisher
3. High click fraud (actual and perceived)
4. Can be blocked by savvy publishers

For the Publisher:
1. Tends to get paid at the going market rate
2. MEDIUM Risk
3. URL blocking filter list (a MUST!)

I believe that this is the publisher's best bet, in almost all cases.

For the Publisher:
1. High CTR required - MFAs performed best
2. Not all clicks count (reported) - what criteria?
3. Unpredictable payout ratio changes
4. Continuing long-term EPC downtrend
5. SmartPricing
6. Eight billion MFA sites, which drain away advertiser dollars from legitimate publishers (quickly being replaced with irrelevant made-for-everyword (MFE) sites)
7. Risk of invalid click account termination, possibly due to the actions of a competitor, or some other actions which you did not do, and cannot possibly control.
8. If a second tier PPC program, you may be booted for not meeting some undefined minimum performance level.


250 - 500

(Advertiser is in COMPLETE control)

Also known as Adsense Referrals, Commission Junction, Linkshare, Share-a-sale, etc.



For the Advertiser:
1. ALL Risk is shifted to the publisher
2. Pay only for performance
3. Receives exposure even without clicks
4. Some look at it as "Free CPM ads"
5. NOT required to specify action and payment
6. No problem in "forgetting" to report action (decide EXACTLY how much you are going to pay (report), in spite of actual publisher performance data)

For the Advertiser:
1. Highest cost, but worth it due to high ROI
2. Greater interaction hassle
3. Must reveal sensitive information
4. High fraud - phony actions, fake form filling
5. PPS has the lowest conversion rate

For the Publisher:
1. Another publisher option
2. The publisher selects the ads
     (100% approved preferred - no "fill")

3. Potentially HIGHEST payout, but there are too many issues ...

One forum comment stated that I was rather harsh on PPA ads, regarding Publisher Disadvantages in the right hand column. What do YOU think? Maybe?

They are all just questions, really. Look at them that way. Then YOU answer - legitimate or illegitimate? - actual or perceived? - problem or not a problem?

I try to resolve these issues by reading the posts of the longtime, well-respected, tell-it-like-it-is gurus on the most popular webmaster forums. If you spend a lot of time at it, you can figure out who knows what they are talking about. I can try a million things, or I can read forums, and get the results much faster. I am sometimes biased (I try not to be), and I make mistakes (which I correct when I am informed).

The opinions stated on this webpage are entirely those of the author. Although Google is used as one example among others, one should not assume that any given comment refers to Adsense, unless specifically stated.

For the Publisher:
1. HIGH risk - ALL risk is shifted to the publisher
Free Branding on Free Real Estate
2. Clicks pay NOTHING
3. Free branding even if no action is completed
4. Some advertisers PURPOSELY create ads that are designed NOT to convert, but to provide FREE branding.
5. Some advertisers do NOT EVEN specify ANY action or payment - NEVER serve ads from these advertisers - Are you crazy? (I was - the fit was perfect, but there was no payoff - BY DEFINITION!).
6. Some advertisers bypass the system by placing a HUGE 800 number at the top of the page - bye-bye commissions - free advertising. If they call instead of click, you get NOTHING!
Flawed Tracking
7. Well-documented cookie hijacking problem -
8. Set one cookie, buy from another computer - no pay
9. Cookie expiration and/ or deletion - no pay
10. Cancellations and chargebacks - no pay - legitimate?
11. No protection from outright advertiser fraud - blind faith is required - good luck! They might pay you, if they feel like it.
The Hard Way
12. Adsense currently will display the PPA ads you pick, plus many others that you do NOT select, thereby defeating the entire concept of publisher ad selection, which I feel is integral to the PPA concept. Lack of publisher control = inability to optimize.
13. Not only do you have to worry about CTR, you must also worry about conversion rate - it is a two-step sell before you get the cigar.
14. Opportunity cost - while you are trying PPA (and waiting weeks), you are giving up prime real estate which could be running far more predictable (and profitable) PPC ads, which pay right now.

Risk DECREASES for the Advertiser, going from CPM to PPC to PPA.
Risk INCREASES  for the Publisher,  going from CPM to PPC to PPA.

CPM, PPC, and PPA Ad Company Comparison and Analysis


250 - 500

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This Vaughns Internet Ad Risk Analysis web
page was last updated on 2019-04-05.