Affiliate Marketing Jargon: Glossary of Terms

Many of the terms used in affiliate marketing can easily confound laypeople and new affiliate marketers. Some of these terms are borrowed from the financial industry, while others are strictly from the affiliate marketing world.

The list of affiliate marketing terms is huge, and new ones seem to creep up every day as the business model continues to gain popularity.

Though it's by no means an exhaustive list, the glossary of terms presented in this post includes some of the most common terms out there, and should serve as a solid introduction for the new affiliate marketer or interested layperson. So let's get to it!

Marketing Jargon

Affiliate Marketing: Terms Explained 

Advertiser: Also called the merchant, the advertiser is the company or individual that produces the products and/or services that the affiliate promotes.

Affiliate: Sometimes to referred to as the “publisher” or “associate”, this is the person who promotes products and/or services for an advertiser. In return, they get a commission or compensation for the sale made or lead generated.

Affiliate Link: This is a link given to the affiliate by the advertiser that is embedded with a unique tracking code. The code enables the advertiser to track the sales or leads the affiliate generates.

Affiliate Program: This is the official arrangement wherein the advertiser gets affiliates to refer customers to their products and/or services. In exchange, the affiliates get a commission if the customer makes a sale.

Banner Ad: This is a graphical advertisement that an affiliate places on their blog or website to promote an advertiser's product or service.

Chargeback: When a sale for which the affiliate has already been compensated falls through, or a product is returned by a customer, the advertiser deducts the amount they have paid the affiliate for that sale from their commissions.

Commission: This is the fee an advertiser pays an affiliate for generating a sale.

Conversion: A conversion occurs when a customer completes a desired action, like buying a product or service, signing up for an email, or filling out an opt-in form.

Conversion Rate: This is the percentage an affiliate gets after dividing the total amount of sales a link has earned by the number of impressions that link has generated, multiplied by 100. The conversion rate is used to show how often an affiliate link has generated sales compared to how often the link has been viewed.

Cookies: In affiliate marketing, cookies are used to identify a visitor who has clicked on an affiliate link. Cookies are assigned for a specific period of time. If the visitor returns within that period, the affiliate marketer will be paid for the sale, whether or not the visitor uses the affiliate link to make the final purchase.

Customer Bounty: This is another term for commission.

Data Feed: This is a file containing lists of all the products an advertiser sells, including prices, images of products, descriptions, and affiliate links for the products.

Disclosure: This is a notice on an affiliate’s website or blog, notifying visitors that the affiliate is being compensated or paid for recommendations, endorsements, and advertisements of a product and/or service on their website or blog. There are important rules and regulations around disclosures.

Email link: This is an affiliate link specifically created for email promotions.

Impressions: This refers to the number of times an ad is shown on a page.

Merchant: This is another term for the advertiser. The term “merchant” may be used more often than “advertiser”.

Niche: A niche is a specific subset of a larger industry. For example, if you have a site about yoga, your niche is yoga. On a more general level, your industry is health and well being.

Marketing Jargon

Affiliate Marketing: Abbreviations

Following is a list of abbreviations most commonly used in the world of affiliate marketing.

Ad – advertisement

AM – affiliate manager

AOV – average order value

AW – affiliate window: the first and largest affiliate network in the UK, owned by Digital Window Ltd.

B2B – business to business: business arrangements that occur between businesses, like wholesalers selling to retailers.

B2C – business to consumer: business arrangements that occur between businesses and customers.

BHO – browser helper object

Bot – artificial intelligence (robot) applications used to automate business processes

CAC – customer acquisition cost

CJ – commission junction affiliate network: a major affiliate network company, with branches in the US, the UK, Germany, Sweden, and more.

CPA – cost per action

CPC – cost per click

CPL – cost per lead

CPO – cost per order

CPS – cost per sale

CTR – click-through rate, or click-through ratio

EPC – earnings per click

GAN – Google Affiliate Network: formerly known as DoubleClick Performics, it was acquired by Google, and is one of the largest affiliate networks in North America.

LP – landing page

PPL – pay per lead

PPS – pay per sale

PPV – pay per view

ROAS – return on advertising spending

ROI – return on investment

SEM – search engine marketing

SEO – search engine optimization

SERP – search engine results page

SID – shopper ID, sometimes called session ID: something affiliates add to their tracking links to know which links generated which lead or sale

TOS – terms of service

URL – Uniform Resource Locator: the global address of an internet source on the web.

UV – unique visitor: a label given to a visitor who visits a certain site several times within a specific period.

This list by no means covers all the affiliate marketing lingo out there, but it should give you the basic knowledge you need to understand what you're hearing and reading about when you get started in the world of affiliate marketing.

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5 thoughts on “Affiliate Marketing Jargon: Glossary of Terms

  1. What a helpful resource for newbies in affiliate marketing. For the first time, I see all these digital marketing abbreviations in one place. I’m pinning this article for future reference. Thanks!

  2. Great article on affiliate marketing! I found your insights and tips to be incredibly helpful, especially for someone like me who is just starting in this field.

  3. Hey Author,

    Kudos on the helpful affiliate marketing jargon glossary! Your article simplifies the complexities. Thanks for aiding us in navigating this terminology. Great work!

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