Affiliate Marketing Glossary



Above the Fold

Describes the part of an email message or web page that is visible without scrolling down the page. This term is important because all content above the fold is assumed to be more valuable to the reader as they see it first. The size of the “above the fold” area will depend on the resolution of the users’ computer monitor and the number of pixels their monitor displays.

Adsense (Google)

Text and image ads that are precisely targeted to page content, from which the webmaster earns a percentage of the price per click paid by the advertiser.


The person selling the goods or service; also knows as the merchant. The advertiser or merchant pays affiliates for sending traffic to the merchant’s web site after a product or service is purchased.


Also known as “spyware”, a program hidden within free downloaded software that transmits user information via the Internet to advertisers.

Adwords (Google)

Google’s Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising program.


A web site owner that promotes a merchant’s products and/or services, earns a commission for referring clicks, leads, or sales.

Affiliate Agreement

Terms that govern the relationship between a merchant and an affiliate. This includes the terms on which the affiliate will be rewarded for the traffic sent to the merchant’s web site.

Affiliate Information Page

A page on your web site that explains the terms of your affiliate program including your commission rates, affiliate agreement, a link for existing affiliates to login, as well as a link to the signup page for new affiliates.

Affiliate Link

A URL tracking link that identifies the affiliate and sends traffic to the merchant’s web site. For example, a link might look like These links are unique in order to track the traffic coming from the Affiliate site. Typically these links can be simple text links, images, product links, etc.

Affiliate Manager

The person responsible for running the merchant’s affiliate program. This includes recruiting affiliates, establishing incentive programs, creating media for the affiliates, reporting on sales and paying affiliates.

Affiliate Marketing

A revenue sharing arrangement between online merchants and distributors (affiliates) in which the affiliate earns a commission for producing a sale, lead or click for the merchant’s site.

Affiliate Network

A third party providing services to affiliate merchants and affiliates, including tracking technology, reporting tools, and payment processing.

Affiliate Program

Can also be called an Associate Program, Partner, Referral or Revenue sharing program. In such a program the merchant rewards the affiliate for web traffic and for generating clicks, leads, or sales from links located on the affiliate’s site on a pay-per-click, pay-per-sale, or pay-per-lead basis.

Affiliate Program Directory

A comprehensive listing of merchants’ affiliate programs. The directories are typically categorized by industry and may include information about commission rate, number of affiliates, and commission structure.

Affiliate Program Manager

The person responsible for administering an affiliate program. Duties should include maintaining regular contact with affiliates, program marketing and responding to queries about the program.

Affiliate Software

A software program such as Affiliate Wiz for running and managing an affiliate program. This usually includes signing up affiliates, managing links, tracking impressions, clicks, sales, leads. This also includes paying affiliates, etc.

Affiliate Solution Provider

3rd party company that provides an affiliate tracking solution on a hosted basis. Typically an affiliate software solution is hosted by you with your web site. With an affiliate solution provider, they provide the hosting for you.

Affiliate Tracking

The process of tracking a link uniquely by affiliate using an Affiliate Link.

Affiliate URL or Link

Special code in a graphic or text link that identifies a visitor as having arrived from a specific affiliate site.


Synonym for “affiliate”.


Affiliate application process whereby all application are immediately accepted/approved upon submittal by the affiliate. This term can also be used to describe the process of automatically accepting all sales recorded by affiliates.

Auto responder

An email robot that sends replies automatically, without human intervention. For example, if you had a page of marketing information, you could ask prospects to send email to “[email protected],” the address of your auto responder. The auto responder will automatically email the person your information document. Many auto responders will, at the same time, send an email to you, listing the requester’s address and the document they requested. This is an important tool for conducting online commerce.


Banner Ad

An electronic advertisement or billboard such as an animated GIF, Flash Movie, JPEG that advertises a product, service, or web site.


Acronym for “web log”, a blog is basically a journal that is available on the web. The act of updating a blog is referred to as “blogging” and those who keep blogs, are known as “bloggers”.


A client program (software), such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Netscape, or Opera, that allows you to access and read hypertext documents on the World Wide Web.


Charge Back

An invalid sale that results in the affiliate’s commission being forfeited.

Click Fraud

Also called pay-per-click fraud, is the practice of artificially generating traffic to advertisers’ sites either manually or through the use of automated clicking programs (called hitbots). The advertiser pays for this traffic, which has no potential for generating revenue, however, the scammer receives a percentage of the pay-per-click fees paid by the advertiser.

Click Fraud Detection/Monitoring

Service that provides independent monitoring of clicks from your PPC campaigns.

Click Reference Most affiliate networks offer a facility to create unique tracking links containing a click reference. This allows affiliates to identify sales that have come via a particular page or link within their site or PPC campaign.


Popular online billing, 3rd party payment processor and marketing service for the development of affiliate programs, and the largest distributor of digital information products on the Internet. Eliminates the need for a merchant account. Known for its ease-of-use.


The action when a web user clicks on an affiliates banner or link and is directed to the merchant’s site.

Click-Through Rate/Ratio (CTR)

Click through rate is calculated by dividing the number of clicks an ad receives by number of impressions. Thus if a banner ad was shown 100 times and received 20 clicks it would have a click through rate of 20%.


Hiding of page content or affiliate linking code.


When the affiliates are able to include their own logo and branding on the pages to which they send visitors through affiliate links.

Comment Spam

Unwanted comments posted to blogs in an attempt to gain a link back to the poster’s site. Usually generated automatically by software known as “spambots” and occasionally by individuals.


Income an affiliate earns for generating a sale, lead or click-through to a merchant’s web site based on percentage of sales or a fixed lead payment basis. Sometimes it’s called a referral fee, a finder’s fee or a bounty.

Contextual Linking

This refers to the process of placing affiliate links to appropriate products within related text or articles on a website.


When one of your visitors makes a purchase on the merchant’s site, converting from “visitor” to “buyer”.

Conversion Rate (CR)

The percentage of visits to your site that result in a commissionable activity (sale or lead). I.e. If 1 person in every hundred visitors to your site makes a purchase, then your conversion rate is 1:100 or 1 percent.


A small file placed on a user’s pc as they travel through the affiliate link (or any other link where the site wishes to track user activity). A cookie allows sales generated by affiliate traffic to be recorded out of session (i.e. if the web user subsequently returns to the site and does not use the affiliate link). Cookies are usually valid for a set period of time such as 60 days, during which time the affiliate will still earn commission on any purchases made by the customer they originally referred. Cookies can also be set by merchants to specify if commissions would be payable on a repeat basis within the cookie period (recurring commissions).

Cookie Expiration/Cookie Retention

When a cookie is planted on a web browser, a date when the cookie expires is defined. This date is important because affiliate sales can only be recorded before the cookie expiration date. This period will also determine if repeat sales will be recorded.

Cookieless Tracking

In response to growing concerns about increasing numbers of web consumers routinely deleting cookies from their PC’s and the impact of spyware programs, some networks are beginning to introduce tracking solutions not reliant upon cookies. Webgains is one such network.

Cost per Acquisition/Action (CPA)

Metric for payment of commission based on a recordable action, such as a sale or lead.

Cost per Click (CPC)

The amount you pay when someone clicks on one of your links or images.

Cost Per Thousand (CPM)

The amount you pay per 1,000 impressions of a banner or button.

CPO (Cost Per Order)

Metric for payment of commission based specifically on sales.


The promotional tools advertisers use to draw in users. Examples are text links, towers, buttons, badges, email copy, pop-ups, etc.


Linking a group of domains, usually your own, to each other for the purpose of increasing its popularity with search engines. Excessive cross-linking may lead to your site being penalized by Google or Yahoo!

Customer Bounty

Pays the affiliate partner for every new customer that they direct to a merchant.


Data Feed

A file (usually in CSV or XML format) containing product information for a merchant. This file will typically contain URL’s, names, images & descriptions of products offered by the merchant. These files are used by many affiliates to create relevant commercial content for their own sites.

Direct Linking

Refers to having your affiliates links go directly to the landing page rather than a redirect. This can help with your search engine ranking.


A disclaimer states the terms under which the site or work may be used and gives information relating to what the copyright owner believes to be a breach of his/her/their copyright.

Domain Name

The unique name that identifies an Internet site, i.e.

Doorway Page

Also known as bridge pages, gateway page, entry pages, portals or portal pages, these pages are used to improve search engine placement. Some search engines, though, will drop a site entirely if the existence of doorway/gateway pages is detected.


Transferring a file from another computer to your own.

Drop Shipping

A lesser known form of affiliate marketing. This involves an affiliate taking orders and payment, and having arranged for a merchant to deliver product direct to client. No stock is required, and buying stock at wholesale prices means commission income is higher.


Earnings Per Click (EPC)

This is the most commonly used metric for determining the financial return provided by an affiliate program. It refers to the average earnings of affiliates for every hundred clicks they deliver to merchant. Many affiliate networks make this data available to affiliates, but tends to be calculated in a slightly different way by each network.


Electronic mail, a message sent to another Internet user across the Internet.

E-mail Link

An affiliate link to a merchant site in an e-mail newsletter, signature, or a dedicated e-mail blast.

Email Signature (Sig File)

A brief message embedded at the end of every email that a person sends.

Endorsement Letter

Also known as a “product review”, an endorsement is a promotional statement outlining features and benefits for a particular product or service.


A merchant that that stipulates “exclusivity” in their affiliate agreement usually prohibits the affiliate from promoting competing products on their site.


Short for “electronic magazine”.



Online community where visitors may read and post topics of common interest.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Lists and answers the most common questions asked on a particular subject. Generally posted to avoid having to answer the same question repeatedly.


Google Adsense

Text and image ads that are precisely targeted to page content, from which the webmaster earns a percentage of the price per click paid by the advertiser.

Google Adwords

Google’s Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising program.

Graphic Interchange Format (GIF)

An image file format, suitable for simple files. A JPEG is the preferred format for storing photographs.

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A hit is a single request from for a single item on a web server. To load a page with 5 graphics would count as 6 ‘”hits”, 1 for the page plus 1 for each of the graphics. They aren’t a very good measurement of traffic to a website.

Home Page

Your primary HTML page, the first page anyone would see in your Web site. Also called a “landing page”.

HTML code

Refers to the lines of code that an affiliate places on their web page(s) for linking to the merchant’s site.This HTML code contains the unique identifier that identifies the traffic as coming from the Affiliate’s web site.

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)

The primary “language” used to create World Wide Web documents (web pages).



An advertising metric that indicates how many times a banner advertisement or link was displayed or viewed.


Merchant that administers its own affiliate program.

Internet Service Provider (ISP)

The company you call from your computer to gain access to the Internet.

IP Address

A unique number consisting of 4 parts separated by dots, e.g. Every machine on the Internet has a unique IP address.



A programming language developed by Sun Microsystems designed for writing programs that can be safely downloaded to your computer through the Internet and immediately run without fear of viruses or other harm to your computer or files.

Joint Venture (JV)

A general partnership typically formed to undertake a particular business transaction or project rather than one intended to continue indefinitely.



The search term that a user may enter at a search engine. For example, someone who wants to find a site that sells printer paper might enter “printer paper” in a search engine.

Keyword Density

The ratio between the keyword being searched for and the total number of words appearing on your web page. If your keyword only occurs, say, once, in a page that has twenty thousand words, then it has a density of 0.005 percent.


Lifetime Commissions

An affiliate program that pays a commission on EVERY product or service that the customer buys from the merchant, once you’ve sent the referral, i.e. the customer is yours “for life”.

Lifetime Value

The total amount that a customer will spend with a particular company during his or her lifetime.


A link is a “clickable” object that, when clicked, will take the viewer to a particular page, place on a page, or start a new e-mail with an address you specify.

Link Popularity

The total number of qualified Web sites linking to your Web site.


Manual Approval

The process of validating an affiliate application and then approving them after validation. This can also refer to the process of approving sales after they have been validated.


The person selling the goods or service is referred to as the merchant. The merchant pays affiliates for sending traffic to the merchant’s web site after a product or service is purchased.

Meta Tags

Information placed in the header of an HTML page, which is not visible to site visitors.

Multi-Level Marketing (MLM)

Also known as Network Marketing, MLM involves the sale of products through a group of independent distributors who buy wholesale, sell retail, and sponsor other people to do the same.

Multiple Tiers

Refers to running a multiple tier affiliate program where affiliates who refer other affiliates earn commission off of those affiliates.



A newsgroup is a discussion that takes place online, devoted to a particular topic. The discussion takes the form of electronic messages called “postings” that anyone with a newsreader (standard with most browsers) can post or read.

Niche Marketing

Focused, targetable market segment.


Organic Search

The unpaid entries in a search engine results page that were derived based on their contents’ relevance to the keyword query.

Outbound Links

Links on any Web page leading to another Web page, whether they are within the same site or another Web site.


P3P Privacy Policy

Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P).A protocol for sharing private information over the Internet from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). A Web site’s privacy policy is defined by the Webmaster answering a standard set of multiple-choice questions, which result in tags embedded in the Web site’s home page. Users also define their privacy requirements in their P3P-enabled browsers; for example, whether they allow their names disclosed to third parties. If the Web site policy and user preferences are not the same, the browser alerts the user. P3P also assists with online sales. It lets users decide what specific data they are willing to divulge automatically to the site, such as shipping address and credit card number. If the site requests more data, the browser alerts the user, who can then decide whether to share it or not.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

An advertising payment model where the advertiser pays only when the advertisement is actually clicked. Also available for an affiliate program where an affiliate receives a commission for each click sent to a merchant’s web site.

Pay-Per-Lead (PPL)

Affiliate program that rewards affiliates for conversions to leads. A lead might include a signup form, software download, survey, contest or sweepstakes entry, signup for a trial, etc. Pay-per-lead generally offers midrange commissions and midrange to high conversion ratios.

Pay-Per-Sale (PPS)

An affiliate marketing program that rewards affiliates based on each conversion to a sale such as when purchasing a product or service from the merchant’s web site. Pay-per-sale programs usually offer the highest commissions but tend to have the lowest conversion rates.

Performance-Based Marketing

Marketing in which the merchant only pays commissions for results such as conversions to sales or leads.


A small piece of software that adds features to a larger piece of software.

Portable Document Format (PDF)

PDF stands for Portable Document Format. It’s a distribution format developed by Adobe Corporation to allow electronic information to be transferred between various types of computers.


A term used to describe a Web site that is intended to be used as a main “point of entry” to the Web. I.e. is a portal site.


The amount of money you earn from your sales.


Quality Score

A score assigned by search engines that is calculated by measuring an ad’s CTR, analyzing the relevance of the landing page and other factors, rewarding those of higher quality with top placement and lower bid requirements.


A request for information, usually to a search engine. A keyword or phrase that instructs the search engine to find documents related to the user’s request.


Real Simple Syndication (RSS)

An XML-based format for syndicated content.

Reciprocal Linking

The process of exchanging links with other websites to increase search engine popularity.

Recurring Commissions

The process of rewarding an affiliate on a recurring basis whenever the merchant charges a customer a recurring fee. For example, a web host that charges customers on a monthly basis might reward the affiliate a percentage of each month’s payment from the customer.

Referring URL

The URL a user came from to reach your site.

Residual Earnings

Programs that pay affiliates for each sale a shopper from their sites makes at the merchant’s site over the life of the customer.

Return on Advertising Spending (ROAS)

This is the amount of revenue generated for every dollar spent on advertising.

Return on Investment (ROI)

This is what all marketing managers want to see from the money they spend on their marketing and advertising campaigns. The higher the sales, the large the number of shoppers and the greater the profit margin generated by sales, the better the ROI.


Total income for your sales. For example, if you sell 50 eBooks at $27.00 each, your revenue would be $1350.00.



Software that contains additional “features” for the purpose of displaying advertisements. This software will modify web pages from their original content to put ads on the user’s computer screen.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The process of choosing keywords and keyword phrases relevant to your site or page on your site, and placing those keywords within pages so that the site ranks well when those keywords are searched upon.

Search Term Suggestion Tool

Displays how many times a certain keyword was searched for during a specific period of time.

Social Networking / Marketing

Meeting and building relationships with people using one or more of a broad range of sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.


Internet slang that refers to unsolicited commercial e-mail (UCE) or unsolicited bulk e-mail (UBE). It usually contains advertisements for services or products.

Spider Detection

The process of detecting and ignoring automated spiders or bots such as search engines like Google/Googlebot.


Also known as “adware”, a program hidden within free downloaded software that transmits user information via the Internet to advertisers.

Squeeze Page

A squeeze page, also known as a “name squeeze page” is a landing page specifically created to solicit name and email addresses from site visitors. Many webmasters collect only email addresses.

Super Affiliates

The highest performing affiliates. The top 1 or 2% of affiliates that generate approximately 90% of any affiliate programs earnings.


Targeted Marketing

The process of distinguishing the different groups that make up a market, and developing appropriate products and marketing mixes for each target market involved.

Text Link

A link not accompanied by a graphical image.

Third Party Tracking Software

Software located on a server other than your own, that tracks and records visits to your Web site.

Tracking Code

Refers to the hidden 1X1 pixel tracking code that is placed on the confirmation page of your website for tracking sales conversions.

Tracking Method

The way that a program tracks referred sales, leads or clicks. The most common are by using an unique web address (URL) for each affiliate, or by embedding an affiliate ID number into the link that is processed by the merchant’s software. Some programs also use cookies for tracking.

Tracking URL

A tracking URL is a web site URL with your special affiliate code attached to it


Affiliate marketing model that allows affiliates to sign up additional affiliates below themselves, so that when the second tier affiliates earn a commission, the affiliate above them also receives a commission.


Uniform Resource Locator (URL)

The address of a site on the World Wide Web.

Unique Click

The process of only counting unique clicks from each web visitor. Unique clicks are typically tracked by recording the IP address and browser header.

Unique User

A unique visitor to your Web site. Probably the best indicator of site traffic.


Viral Marketing

A marketing technique that induces Web sites or users to pass on a marketing message to other sites or users in a very short period of time.


A computer virus is defined as a set of commands, created intentionally, that will do some level of damage to a computer.


Web Host

A business that provide storage, connectivity, and services necessary to serve website pages and files.

Web Site

A collection of HTML pages. Can also be a “blog”.

World Wide Web (WWW, or Web)

A section of the Internet containing “pages” of information, including text, photos, graphics, audio, and video. You can search for documents by using one of the many search databases. To access the Web, you must use a browser.

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