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The Process Behind Affiliate Payouts: Hold Period, Leads, Checks


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“The more you earn, the more we earn”. You probably heard this phrase very often, if you’re in the affiliate marketing industry at least for a while. And if not, get ready to hear it on repeat.

Cause this is a fact. Affiliates get paid a commission based on their performance. Who pays that commission? The CPA Networks, or the advertiser – aka the offer holder. 

Sure, affiliates’ performance is given by conversions, and we already saw the various conversion types and what you can do to increase your Conversion Rate.

But have you ever heard the saying “The more you earn, the more YOU can earn”? Let’s zoom in on that by understanding what happens once your users take the action you agreed to be paid for.

Introducing The Hold Period

Well, sure, you get paid. But are you instantly paid for each conversion, or what?

Newbies take note! Advertisers and CPA Networks need to make sure that the users you generate are aligned with the required quality, and don’t go against the offer’s rules of promotion. 

For this to happen, they take a certain period of time to verify that your conversions are legit and that your users won’t scram once you get what you’re owed.

This time is known in the industry as the conversion validation Hold Period. Once the conversion is confirmed, you get updates about your payout.

Working with a CPA Network, you will find details about it, right in the offer’s details. If there’s anything not according to the offer, the amount will be deducted from your payout.

Another type is the Hold on the payout, and it occurs once the conversion is validated. During this time you see your money on hold (in the stats or on the payment page), and you can’t withdraw them just yet.

This is the period after which you agree with the advertiser to get paid. Once this time passes, your money will be un-hold (the payment will be approved), at which point you are free to cash out.

What determines the Hold Period?

The Hold period can vary a lot, based on:

  • the vertical (niche, industry) of the offer, 
  • the conversion flow/type used, 
  • the funnel itself, 
  • the KPI.

The conversion validation Hold Period (or the offer/quality hold) depends on the conversion type. Clearly, simple flows (like One-Click, or SOI) can be validated almost instantly.

More complicated conversion types (as the Cost per Sale) come with some extra parameters to be considered – the cancelation rate, payment confirmation, the delivery itself, etc.

So in order to make sure you’ve got everything you need, double-check all the details of the offer first, to be ready and avoid any unpleasant surprises later.

The hold on the offer can be from 1 to 90 days, or (based on the conversion type) even more.

On the other hand, the payment Hold Period fully depends on the advertiser or network’s internal rules, and it usually ranges from a number of days or even months: 


Above you can see a few of the timeframes based on which affiliates get paid, where ‘Net’ represents the end of the contract period as agreed, or the month (i.e. Net7: e.o.m. + 7days = Pay Day). 

And then you get the greens?.

Why is the Hold Period important for Affiliates?

Based on the quality and quantity of the users you bring, some networks or advertisers grade affiliates. This step allows you to further negotiate/improve your commissions or get extra caps and conditions on the offer. 

In other words, if you bring quality traffic, with a great conversion rate and manage to keep the same pace, in the long run, you’ll have more advantages from the CPA network or offer holder (advertiser).

The result: you get a better payout, access to exclusive offers, and a more relaxed capping (and not just for test). 

What is a cap you ask? A limit imposed on your maximum daily lead generation. Simply put, how many leads you can send to the network and get paid for.

Obviously, you want to have a higher cap, because the more leads you send, the more you can earn from them?. 

How to shorten the payment Hold Period?

Actually, that’s simpler than you could imagine. Most networks are quite flexible, and as long as you can prove the quality of your traffic for a predefined period of time, you can get better conditions.

Alternatively, you can always reach an agreement with the network to set up some fair conditions under which to get faster payment. 

For example: you can agree that with every $5k generated you get paid (for validated leads, of course), regardless of the period you manage to achieve these results (a day, a week, or more).

Otherwise, once you already have some experience with the network, you can just use your previous results as proof of your commitment and the quality of your conversions.

As long as you can demonstrate what you’re worth, networks will be understanding and over time can decrease the payment period. 

Careful though, this will last as long as you’ll continue delivering the same results!

But whatever you do, never-ever try to fraud or trick the network. They’ll get onto you, and your days of fat payouts will be over with.

Other factors that can influence delays in payments – late conversions

Clearly, in order to get paid, the advertiser or CPA Network needs to account for all your conversions.

There are cases when due to additional checks from the call center or advertiser’s side, you could encounter some slow-downs in the payment process.

Also, it can happen that the advertiser that works with the CPA network hits a technical problem which is making it harder for them to post-back the validated leads or even conversions.

In addition, given the complexity of some conversion flows there can always appear a technical miscommunication. 

For example: In case of a sale, lead validation through a call center, or in case of deposit – The system might be accurate in showing the pre-lead, live, but lag when it comes to deposits or sales. 

However, you will be able to see the deposit or sale in statistics, after several days.

Based on your relationship with the CPA Network or advertiser, you can take measures to avoid such situations, or even open the way to further negotiate the speed of your payouts.

Account Managers are there to help you with this kind of situation. And always remember: You get more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.

Hybrid Conversion-Flow Payments

They also say that “affiliate marketing is the job that makes you money while you sleep”. And this too, couldn’t be more accurate.

This is one special kind of conversion, that aside from making you money while you sleep, might also slow down your payout.

Some conversion flows, very popular with the Finance vertical, also reward follow-up actions like second deposits. 

These are known in the industry as hybrid conversions and are just combinations of various conversion types: CPI & CPE, CPL & FTD, free trials & CPS, etc.

In general, these are the flows that take longer to get validated, given the more complicated second step.

Moreover, this conversion type can have higher payouts. You can get paid for both conversions (based on your preexistent agreement), or use the first one for optimization and get paid for the second one.

The first step is extremely simple usually, and comes immediately after running the campaign; whereas the second or even third one, can delay.

Here’s an example from Zeydoo. The offer conditions explain how the call center works and what target action is paid

Since there can be tons of varieties of hybrid conversions, you will always find the details clearly stated in the offer description.

Just carefully read and understand the offer conditions, cause it might require some postback setting adjustment, as well. 

Another way to make sure you fully understand how your payment will be processed and honored is to double-check everything with your CPA Network’s Account Manager.

Looking for a great CPA Network? Try Zeydoo!

Main takeaways

  • Always deliver good traffic quality – if you happen to come across a bad source of traffic, make sure to check it, and if there’s nothing you can do to improve your collaborations, simply stop working with them. 

PropellerAds only works with verified publishers/sites. In fact, we have our inventory of verified websites, which is why we can vouch for the traffic quality.

In addition, we have a very tight anti-fraud system and great compliance measures.

  • Make sure to get familiarized with the offer’s details and comply with all its specifications.
  • Double-check the terms of the offer, especially if you don’t see the promotions bringing the wanted results.
  • Request a quality check for your traffic, and continue running tests to ensure a smooth process.
  • Comply with the rules and never-ever try to cheat the CPA network/offer holder or traffic source.

You can discuss hold periods and many other things with your fellow affiliates on our Telegram chat!


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