American Marketer


The 7 “Cs” of mobile advertising

June 17, 2014

Dale Carr is founder/CEO of LeadBolt Dale Carr is founder/CEO of LeadBolt



By Dale Carr

The seven “Cs” I am referring to are the seven pricing models used for buying ad campaigns on mobile.

If you are not familiar with the various cost structures, you are likely to be shocked when the pricing model you chose does not align with your campaign goals, either costing you more than you had planned or not tracking and achieving the right metric for the desired outcome of your campaign.

This list was designed to help marketers navigate the waters of the 7 “Cs” to ensure that the bidding model you select is the right fit for your campaign goals.

Ask any marketer who has demonstrated success reaching the lucrative mobile audience, and they will tell you sweet dreams are made of this. So here are ways to buy mobile ad campaigns:

CPA mobile campaign: "Cost per action"

In this advertising model, the advertiser pays for each specified action linked to the advertisement, most commonly completing a form registration.

CPA (cost per action, also known as CPE, or cost per engagement) campaigns are offered by some ad networks and are useful in driving a higher potential for lifetime value of users.

Lifetime value (LTV) is calculated by tracking specific in-application events such as when a user finishes the first level of a game, or completes said form registration. However, real-time bidding networks optimize in real-time and such campaigns have trouble driving large volumes of actions due to the delay in tracking these events.

CPCV: "Cost per completed view"

A pricing model based on a user viewing the entire ad, usually a video clip. Brand marketers planning to use video ads are likely to benefit from this campaign model.

Ask your ad network to define the exact length of time a video ad will run before it is counted as a completed view.

CPI mobile campaign: "Cost per install," AKA CPD mobile campaign, or "Cost per download"

The main purpose of a CPI campaign is to acquire more users.

This campaign model means that you only pay for each user that you acquire.

If you are a marketer of an app whose primary goal is user acquisition – in other words, driving downloads of your app – do consider selecting this model.

CPM campaign: "Cost per mille impressions" ("mille" = thousand)

An advertising model based on the number of impressions, or rather, the number of times your ad appears on mobile inventory.

For marketers whose primary objectives include brand awareness and deepening engagement, CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions) is a suitable model to consider.

Marketers with highly recognizable and familiar brands often attract user attention and earn high engagement rates, and therefore will benefit by serving ads to as many users as possible.

If brand exposure and casting a wide net are your main campaign goals, CPM and CPC (cost per click) models are very efficient for driving large volumes on RTB (real-time bidding) networks.

CPC mobile campaign: "Cost per click"

Simply put, advertisers are charged every time their ad is clicked.

By looking at historical data you may know how many clicks you need in order to generate one sale. If so, the CPC model allows you to budget accordingly.

Pro: You will be able to serve unlimited ads and only pay for the clicks you get. Con: Build in a buffer for “accidental” clicks as well, which can happen more easily on mobile devices with smaller screens.

Dale Carr is founder/CEO of LeadBolt, Los Angeles. Reach him at