Track Costs and Payouts

Tracking numbers of different event types, such as impressions, visits, clicks, and conversions is only half of the picture. Apart from knowing, HOW MANY events were generated in your campaigns you should also want to know HOW MUCH did those events cost and HOW MUCH you have earned thanks to them. Ultimately, it all comes down to the cost and profit ratio.

Recording costs and payouts is an integral part of tracking. It is a complex topic, involving different cost models and support for cost and payout tokens by traffic source or affiliate network platforms. But the aim of this set of articles is to make it easier.

What is Cost and What Are Cost Models?

Cost is an amount of money that you have to pay for a single event. To paraphrase a saying, "there is no free traffic". This expense is your investment that you have to make in order to get money as a result. The payment is made in your traffic source platform. Typically you have to top-up your account in the traffic source platform with some amount of money and then the money will be drawn from your account as a payment for events when they occur.

There are different cost models to settle accounts with your traffic source platforms. In general, cost models define conditions under which a payment for traffic is made. There are the following cost models available in Voluum:

  • CPM: Cost per mille (thousand) is a cost model of buying traffic from a traffic source, where you pay for a thousand ad impressions. The CPM does not depend on further user actions, like a click or a conversion. 

  • CPC: Cost per click is a model of buying traffic from a traffic source, where you pay for every time a user clicks on an ad. In Voluum, clicking an advertisement is called a visit.

  • CPA: Cost per action is a model of buying traffic from a traffic source, where you pay for a single user action (such as purchase, app install, etc.) that is reported as a conversion.

  • Revshare: In this model you pay a percentage of a payout for a single user action (such as purchase, app install, etc.) that is reported as a conversion.

Remember, you want to pay as little as possible for the most converting traffic. Once you set tracking costs correctly, you will be able to see how much you pay in the Cost column in Voluum.

What is Payout?

A payout is an amount of money you get from offer owners after a successful conversion occurs. Your summed payouts make your revenue. Each payout is given out by your affiliate network platform. Typically payouts are paid in batches per every predefined period of time (for example: bi-weekly, monthly). Some affiliate networks support instantaneous payments for bigger clients. 

Every successful conversion recorded by an affiliate network platform generates a payout. Typically a single visitor generates one conversion, but sometimes this person can generate subsequent conversions. Read the Upselling: Tracking Subsequent Conversions article to learn more.

As you want to get as much money as possible for the biggest number of conversions. Once you set tracking payout correctly, you will be able to see how much you get in the Revenue column in Voluum.

What are Profit and ROI?

Profit is the money you have earned minus the money you have spent. In Voluum, you can see what is your profit in the Profit column. 

Return on investment (ROI) is the main indicator of the profitability of your campaign. It shows the percentage of the money you earned as a fraction of the money you have invested. You can find this indicator in the ROI column in Voluum.


If your total cost is 9,510.28$ and your revenue (all payouts summed) is 45,583$, then your profit will be revenue - cost, which is 36,072.72$. Your ROI is 379.3%. It tells you that roughly you have made almost four times more money than you have spent.


Automatic Cost and Payout Tracking

Cost and payout are information like any other and they can be sent to Voluum from a traffic source platform or an affiliate network platform in a token. Not all platforms support passing cost and payout information in tokens, but if there is an option to do so, we recommend doing it. There are two steps to complete to set up automatic cost and payout tracking:

  1. Match a traffic source's cost token with a Voluum cost variable for cost tracking and / or append affiliate network's payout token to a postback URL for payout tracking.

  2. Set cost and / or payout options to Auto in a campaign or offer form.

With these steps successfully completed, Voluum will capture cost and payout values and include them in the reports regardless of a cost model or a conversion type that were behind generating those values. Read the further part of these set of articles to learn more.

Cost Tracking for Fully Integrated Traffic Sources

If you use the full API traffic source integrations, the cost information passed via the integration will OVERRIDE any cost value set in a traffic source setup in Voluum. However, the full integration fetches cost info in time intervals. If you want to have estimated cost values between cost update intervals, you can provide a cost value. When cost information will be fetched, it will replace your estimates.

If you do not care about having estimates between cost update intervals, you can set the cost model option to Not tracked.

Set up Tracking Cost and Payout in Voluum

In order to set up tracking cost and payout information, go to the following articles:

Using Different Currencies

By default, Voluum shows all financial information in USD. However, you can change the currency of cost and payout. Voluum will record this information in the selected currency. You can also select the default display currency and recalculate all cost and payout values to this currency using live exchange rates.

To learn more about using different currencies in Voluum, read the Multicurrency in Voluum article.

Reporting Cost Information Back to a Traffic Source Platform

For cost models that rely on a conversion to occur (CPA and Revshare), information about a conversion cost can be sent back to a traffic source platform with the {conversion.cost} token that you can add either to the traffic source postback URL or pixel redirect URL. In order to do that, perform the following steps:

  1. In Voluum, go to the Traffic sources tab. The Traffic sources view will show up.

  2. Create a new traffic source or edit an existing one.

  3. Go to the Traffic source postback URL field and define the postback URL: To track the conversion cost you need to add the {conversion.cost} token and match it with the adequate parameter provided by your traffic source. Your traffic source should say which parameter should be added to the URL to pass the cost data back to the source following conversion.


    Voluum Note: It is highly recommended that you review your traffic source’s tracking documentation to verify which parameters are supported and what kind of data can be sent back in the postback URL. Some traffic sources might not support the functionality to pass the cost information back to them.


However, you should keep in mind that the information can be passed on to the traffic source if only the traffic source supports this functionality.