A Hold Period In CPA Marketing: What Is It and Why Is It Important

Published : 26 Jul 2022   author : Irina

When starting to work with CPA marketing, publishers encounter dozens of unfamiliar terms. Even if you have a good understanding of marketing, you know how to attract inexpensive traffic, distinguish CR from CTR, and contextual advertising from targeted one, some concepts can be confusing. One of the parameters that always raises questions from newbies in affiliate marketing is a hold period. 

Definition of the hold period 

In every affiliate program in the Indoleads catalog of offers you can find a description with commissions, conversion statistics, allowed traffic types, etc. Among these data there is always a hold period with an amount of days.

hold period in CPA marketing

So, what does that mean? 

Hold is the period of time it takes for an advertiser to verify the targeted action. During this period, an advertiser can confirm the order, registration or other targeted action, or reject it due to violations of the terms. Before this period expires, you cannot withdraw your earnings from the affiliate network. Such a system helps to secure brands from fraud or fake traffic. 

In general, the time of making a payment does not differ from the hold: the money comes to the account immediately after checking. However, in some cases, the period of remittance may be longer by 1-2 days. 

How is the hold period calculated?

hold period in CPA marketing

To understand what a hold in networks is, you need to understand the mechanism behind it. Terms vary from program to program. This is due to the niche – in some niches the user action can be confirmed quickly, while in others the process may take more than a month. What does the withholding time depend on?


If we take an online store as an example, it usually takes 1-3 bank days from adding stuff to cart and making a payment till the money is actually transferred to the company’s account. When promoting mobile apps using the CPA model in order to get installs, developers can track the user’s activity after the installation: passing certain game levels, in-app purchases and payments.


In e-commerce offers, confirmation periods are longer than for services because there is a product delivery phase. If you are working with a local store, then the hold is almost unaffected (1-2 days), when working with a Chinese marketplace, such as AliExpress, the time may increase to 45 days. 

That’s why when working with big websites, you should pay attention to the location of distribution centers: the closer they are to the final point, the shorter the confirmation time. You can narrow your targeting to get the traffic from nearby regions to speed up the process. 


This parameter is affected by legislation and company policy – customers are given time to return items that don’t fit for whatever reason. Usually this period is limited to two weeks, which is added to the hold. Subscription services rarely have a return option – the rules don’t allow refunds for subscriptions, so in this case the confirmation period doesn’t change. 

Why do we need a hold period?

hold period in CPA marketing

Fraud is a common practice in affiliate marketing. For instance, when promoting apps using the CPA model, where the goal is getting installs, some publishers instead of attracting a target audience, bring in users who download it for some money reward. The advertiser gets fake users who cannot be monetized in the future. To fix this flaw in affiliate marketing, the networks decided to dedicate time to check the quality of traffic.

A similar situation can arise for an online store if a customer returns an item or cancels an order after payment. In this situation, the seller may incur additional losses related to delivery. 

Hold in affiliate links is highly needed for the advertiser to perform three tasks:

  • Analyzing the sources of conversions: if there is a ban on some channels in the terms of the program, and the publisher still uses them; 
  • Checking targeted actions: for example, in the app and web service you can track the behavioral patterns of new users and compare them with active users; 
  • Detecting bots and fraud attempts. 

How long is the hold period in the affiliate program?

hold period in CPA marketing

Holds depend on the difficulty of the offer: the easier it is to confirm the action and the lower the risks, the faster publishers get the earned money. The minimum period is 1-2 days. It is usually used when it is possible to check the work automatically, or when ordering urgent services. A typical example is microloans, which are issued instantly. 

Verification for online platforms, apps, subscription services usually takes from a week to 10 days. In e-commerce, hold periods are the longest because it takes time for delivery and there is a risk of returns. For this reason, payments are delayed for up to 2 months, especially if the target region for example is Germany and the online store is in the U.S. 

There are hardly any affiliate offers without a hold, but with long-term cooperation, when a publisher brings high-quality traffic without any attempts to cheat, some advertisers can reduce the validation time or cancel it.

Hold periods in different niches

hold period in CPA marketing

Payout time can be one of the criteria for choosing a program, but in reality it’s the confirmation rate that’s more important. If the verification period takes 3 days, but the advertiser rejects half of the targeted actions, then it may be unprofitable to work with this offer. And, vice versa: when working with big checks, low bounce rate, but with a long check of the traffic, the publisher can make some good money.

E-commerce has one one of the longest hold periods, as we explained previously, there is a product shipping time and a return option, both of which are taken into account when setting up a hold period. That’s why it is usually up to 60 days. 

Similarly, the travel niche has quite a long hold period (more than 30 days), because: 

  • Travelers plan their trips in advance;
  • After buying tickets, people often change their departure date;
  • Hotel and flight bookings can be canceled until the last day (except for non-refundable fares).

Online games and mobile apps affiliate programs have specified KPIs for checking the quality of traffic: re-entries, activity, completed levels, etc. New users need time to complete these actions. As a result, the hold lasts from a week to a month. The fastest money is in niches with instant payments: subscriptions, financial services and urgent services.

Wrapping It Up

Hold period is very much needed in CPA marketing for checking the quality of traffic and hence almost always unavoidable. Don’t overestimate it and don’t assume that if a hold period is short – everything is in the bag, as there are other parameters to consider too, for example, confirmation rate. However, don’t overlook it – keep in mind that during the time determined in the hold you might not be able to get your earnings. The best strategy – to evaluate hold period along with other parameters to get the full picture. 

You’re certainly welcome to compare hold periods of our affiliate programs here and join Indoleads to see first-hand that CPA marketing can be really profitable!      

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