What is Cost-Per-Click (CPC)? (Explained With Examples)

08 November 2023

What is Cost-Per-Click (CPC)? (Explained With Examples)

Cost-Per-Click (CPC) is a metric used in digital advertising to measure the cost advertisers pay for each click on their ads. In this article, we will explore the definition of CPC, its advantages and disadvantages, and provide examples to better understand its use in different contexts

1°) What is Cost-Per-Click (CPC)?

CPC, also known as Pay-Per-Click (PPC), refers to the amount of money an advertiser pays to a publisher or ad network for each click received on their ad. It is commonly used in online advertising platforms like Google Ads and social media networks.

1.1 - Definition of Cost-Per-Click (CPC)

Cost-Per-Click defines the actual cost incurred by advertisers when a user clicks on their ads. The formula to calculate CPC is simple: CPC = Total Cost / Total Clicks. For instance, if an advertiser spends $100 and receives 200 clicks on their ad, the CPC would be $0.50.

However, it's important to note that CPC can vary based on factors such as competition, ad relevance, and targeting options. Advertisers often bid for ad placements and the highest bidder gets their ad shown to the target audience.

When it comes to calculating the total cost, it's not just the amount paid per click that advertisers need to consider. There are additional costs involved in running a successful CPC campaign. These costs may include the fees charged by ad networks or publishers, the cost of creating and designing the ad, and any additional expenses related to optimizing the campaign for better performance.

Furthermore, the total number of clicks received on an ad is not the only metric that advertisers should focus on. It's equally important to analyze the quality of those clicks. For example, if an ad receives a high number of clicks but none of those clicks result in conversions or sales, then the CPC may not be as effective as initially thought.

1.2 - Advantages of Cost-Per-Click (CPC)

CPC offers several advantages for advertisers:

  1. Measurable Results: CPC allows advertisers to track the performance of their campaigns and measure the return on investment (ROI) accurately. By analyzing the data collected from each click, advertisers can gain valuable insights into the effectiveness of their ads and make data-driven decisions to optimize their campaigns.
  2. Control over Budget: Advertisers have control over the maximum amount they are willing to pay for each click, ensuring they stay within their budget limits. This flexibility allows advertisers to allocate their budget strategically and focus on the most profitable keywords or target audience segments.
  3. Targeted Advertising: CPC enables advertisers to target specific demographics, interests, and locations to reach their desired audience. By narrowing down the target audience, advertisers can increase the relevance of their ads and improve the chances of attracting clicks from potential customers.
  4. Flexibility: Advertisers can make changes to their campaigns in real-time, adjusting bids and ad content to optimize performance. This flexibility allows advertisers to respond quickly to market trends, competitor activities, or changes in consumer behavior, ensuring their ads remain relevant and effective.

1.3 - Disadvantages of Cost-Per-Click (CPC)

While CPC has its advantages, it also has a few drawbacks:

  • Competition and Cost: As more advertisers compete for the same ad placements, the cost per click can increase, making it more challenging for advertisers with limited budgets. Advertisers need to carefully manage their bids and budget to ensure they are getting the most value from their CPC campaigns.
  • Click Fraud: Some clicks may come from bots or users with no genuine interest in the ad. This can lead to wasted ad spend without generating meaningful results. Advertisers need to implement measures to detect and prevent click fraud, such as using fraud detection tools or monitoring click patterns.
  • Ad Blocking: With the rise of ad blocking software, some users may not even see the ads, potentially reducing the chances of receiving clicks. Advertisers need to consider alternative advertising methods or explore native advertising options to reach audiences who actively block traditional display ads.

Despite these disadvantages, CPC remains a popular and effective advertising model for many businesses. By understanding the intricacies of CPC and implementing strategies to overcome its challenges, advertisers can leverage this model to drive targeted traffic and achieve their marketing goals.

2°) Examples of Cost-Per-Click (CPC)

Let's explore some examples to understand how CPC works in different contexts:

2.1 - Example in a Startup Context

Imagine a startup launching a new mobile app. The startup decides to run CPC campaigns on social media platforms to drive installs. By carefully targeting the app's target audience, the startup is able to acquire 500 clicks on their ad at an average CPC of $1.50. This means they spent $750 to generate these clicks and potentially gain new app users.

This example showcases how CPC can be used by startups to drive user acquisition and measure their marketing expenses against the results achieved.

In this particular case, the startup can analyze the cost-effectiveness of their CPC campaign by evaluating the conversion rate of those clicks into actual app installs. By tracking the number of installs resulting from the 500 clicks, the startup can calculate the cost per install (CPI) metric, which provides insights into the efficiency of their marketing efforts.

Furthermore, the startup can also monitor the lifetime value (LTV) of the acquired users to determine the long-term profitability of their CPC campaign. By comparing the LTV of the users against the cost of acquiring them, the startup can make data-driven decisions regarding the scalability and sustainability of their marketing strategy.

2.2 - Example in a Consulting Context

A consulting firm wants to generate leads for their services and decides to invest in CPC advertising on search engines. They bid on relevant keywords related to their consulting services and set a maximum CPC of $5.00. Through their campaign, they receive 100 clicks on their ad. With a total spend of $500, their CPC comes out to $5.00 per click.

This example highlights how CPC can be used by service-based businesses to attract potential clients and generate leads for their consultancy services.

For the consulting firm, it is crucial to track the quality of the leads generated through their CPC campaign. They can analyze the conversion rate of those clicks into actual inquiries or consultations. By measuring the percentage of leads that convert into paying clients, the consulting firm can assess the return on investment (ROI) of their CPC advertising and make informed decisions about their marketing budget allocation.

Additionally, the consulting firm can also implement lead nurturing strategies to maximize the value of the acquired leads. By engaging with the leads through targeted email campaigns or personalized follow-ups, the firm can increase the chances of converting them into long-term clients, thereby enhancing the overall profitability of their CPC campaign.

2.3 - Example in a Digital Marketing Agency Context

A digital marketing agency manages an advertising campaign for a client by running CPC ads on display networks. The agency's goal is to drive website visits and increase brand visibility. Over the campaign period, they receive 1,000 clicks on the ads at a total cost of $2,000. The average CPC for this campaign is $2.00.

This example demonstrates how digital marketing agencies can utilize CPC to achieve specific campaign objectives, such as increasing traffic to a client's website.

For the digital marketing agency, it is essential to analyze the click-through rate (CTR) of the CPC ads to evaluate their effectiveness in capturing the audience's attention. By monitoring the percentage of impressions that result in clicks, the agency can optimize the ad creatives, targeting, and messaging to improve the overall campaign performance.

Furthermore, the agency can also track the bounce rate and time spent on the client's website by the visitors coming from the CPC ads. By analyzing these metrics, the agency can assess the quality of the traffic generated and make recommendations to the client on website optimization and user experience enhancements.

Moreover, the agency can leverage remarketing techniques to re-engage with the users who clicked on the CPC ads but did not convert into desired actions. By displaying targeted ads to these users across various online platforms, the agency can increase the chances of conversion and maximize the return on investment for their client.

2.4 - Example with Analogies

Consider a magazine publisher who sells ad space in their monthly publication. Advertisers pay a fixed rate for each inch of ad space. In this scenario, the "cost-per-inch" can be seen as an analogy to "cost-per-click." Advertisers pay for each click their digital ads receive, just as they pay for each inch of their print ads.

This analogy illustrates how CPC provides a direct correlation between the amount spent and the number of clicks received, similar to how print ads are quantified based on the physical space they occupy.

However, unlike print ads, CPC offers advertisers the advantage of precise targeting and measurable results. With CPC, advertisers can reach their desired audience with greater accuracy and track the performance of their ads in real-time. This level of transparency and control allows advertisers to optimize their campaigns, allocate budgets effectively, and achieve higher returns on their advertising investments.

Furthermore, CPC also enables advertisers to experiment with different ad formats, messaging, and landing pages to identify the most effective combination for driving clicks and conversions. By continuously testing and refining their campaigns, advertisers can stay ahead of their competition and maximize the impact of their digital advertising efforts.


CPC, or Cost-Per-Click, is a vital metric in the world of digital advertising. It allows advertisers to measure their expenses accurately, target their audience effectively, and have control over their budget. Despite its disadvantages, CPC remains a popular and valuable method for advertisers to achieve their marketing objectives.

By understanding CPC and analyzing real-world examples, marketers can make informed decisions when implementing their advertising strategies. Whether you're a startup, a consulting firm, or a digital marketing agency, being well-versed in CPC will undoubtedly help you make the most out of your advertising investments.

About the author
Arnaud Belinga
Arnaud Belinga
Arnaud Belinga is the Co-Founder & CEO at Breakcold. He talks about Sales CRM use, marketing & sales. He loves Surfing 🏄‍♂️ & Skateboarding 🛹️.
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