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Understanding paid recommendation budgets
Understanding paid recommendation budgets

Everything you need to know as a partner about budgets and payouts for Upscribe paid recommendations and the Partner Network.

Louis Nicholls avatar
Written by Louis Nicholls
Updated yesterday

As a partner making paid recommendations of other newsletters to your audience, it's important to know how much you can earn per referral, and when that'll be paid out.

Here's a quick overview of how budgets work for paid recommendations in our Partner Network, so you can plan and maximise your performance.

Key metrics

There are three numbers you really need to understand about the Partner Network:

  1. The per-referral payout (CPA) → how much you will get paid for each high-quality subscriber you refer... as long as they stay subscribed for the entire screening period (eg $4.50/referral)

  2. The max. spend (monthly budget) → the "upper limit" to how much you can earn from promoting a publication in a given month (eg $5k/month)

  3. The screening period → how long the referred subscriber has to stay subscribed in order to count towards payouts (normally 10-14 days)

Which referrals am I getting paid for? (referral status)

When you make a paid referral to a publication, the referral goes through a 3-step process:

Step #1: Quality Control

We check the referred subscriber to make sure it passes our anti-fraud checks. And that it meets the criteria set by the publication.

If the publication has stipulated they will only pay for referrals from a particular country, for example, then subscribers referred from other countries will not pass this quality control check and will not be eligible for payouts.

Subscribers who don't pass the quality control will be rejected (red). You'll see a reason for the rejection in your dashboard:

Step #2: Engagement Control

Referred subscribers who pass the initial quality check will go into a pending state:

This pending state is defined by the publication you're recommending and is normally 10-14 days.

If the subscriber unsubscribes during this time period — or is manually unsubscribed for low engagement (eg because they didn't open any emails in the first 14 days) — then they'll be rejected and won't count towards payouts.

Step #3: Budget Control

If a referred subscriber isn't rejected during steps 1 + 2, they'll automatically be confirmed at the end of the screening period.

SparkLoop then automatically checks to see if the publication had available budget when the referral was made.

If there was budget available, the referral will count towards payouts, and you'll see the amount earned:

If the budget was fully used up, the referral will not count towards payouts, and you'll see a "budget exceeded" badge instead:

Valid referrals made where the budget is exceeded will not be paid out. It is your responsibility as a partner to understand how budgets work and to judge your recommendations accordingly. No exceptions are made here.

How do monthly budgets work?

In most cases, your monthly budget is unique to you as a partner. Budgets reset X number of days before the end of the month, where X is the number of days of the screening period (ie: if the screening period is 10 days, a budget would reset 10 days before the first of the month).

You can see how much budget any publication you're recommending has left in almost real time:

Pending referrals are factored in to the remaining budget. We give a prediction of how much budget you've already used up, and how much is still available:

"Shared" budgets

Rarely, a publication may not have enough total budget left in the month to guarantee your unique budget anymore. And the budget is shared among all partners.

In that case, we can no longer guarantee that valid referrals you make will definitely be eligible for payouts.

In this situation, we display a clear warning sign in our dashboard, alongside an estimate of how much budget is available across all partners:

Do I get notifications about important budget/CPA changes?

Yes. By default, you'll receive warning emails when publications are approaching (or have reached) their monthly budgets.

If you're using Upscribe to make paid recommendations, we'll automatically stop showing publications with no budget available, and replace them with an alternative from your list of approved recommendations.

We'll also email you if a publication updates their budget or CPA.

Frequently asked questions

Let's take a look at some common questions partners have about budgets and CPAs...

What happens when a publication changes the payout?

Based on the quality of subscribers you are recommending, publications may choose to adjust your personal CPA (payout per referral).

If this happens, you'll receive an email notification informing you of the change instantly.

This change will only be applied to future referrals. Any existing referrals, confirmed and pending, will still be confirmed at the CPA which was valid at the time of referring.

I've maxed out my personal budget for recommending a publication. Can I get them to increase it?


You are welcome to contact the publication and ask if they're willing to increase your budget. If you have a good track record of sending through high-quality subscribers, it's likely they will agree to do so.

However there is no guarantee or obligation for them to do this.

I made a referral in March, and it was confirmed in April (one month later)... will it count towards March's budget or April's budget?

Referrals are counted towards the budget in the month in which they are confirmed.

If you make a pending referral late in the month, it will therefore likely count towards the next month's budget.

Where do I see all of the details about screening period, budgets, and quality/engagement checks for each publication?

Before joining a publication's partner program to recommend them, you are shown all of the details and asked to confirm your acceptance to begin recommending:

Once you've already joined a publication's partner program, you can find all these details in their dashboard:

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