Affiliate Marketing Glossary

Understanding all the jargon associated with the affiliate marketing community can often seem daunting. We’ve put together the list below defining the most frequently used terms to help you better navigate the industry.


Above the fold

Once a web page has loaded, the part that is visible is referred to as ‘above the fold’.


An advertiser (also known as a merchant ) is the website owner or merchant who pays affiliates for sending traffic to their site when the traffic has purchased goods or services, or generated leads.


An affiliate (also known as a publisher) drives traffic to a merchant for a commission that is based on an action, such as an acquisition or sale. In rare situations, they can also be paid per click.

Affiliate Link

An affiliate link is a unique linking code that enables the merchant and/or network to track activity. It is a special code embedded in a graphic or text link that identifies a visitor as having arrived from a specific affiliate site when the text or graphic is clicked.

Affiliate Management Agency

An affiliate management agency manages programs on behalf of a merchant for a nominal fee or performance percentage. Their purpose is to handle the recruitment of new affiliates to a program, help them become active and improve their program performance. An agency will often provide creatives for a merchant's program and manage occasional promotions to boost performance. Affiliate management agencies are often used by merchants who do not have the specific skills or contacts in affiliate marketing to achieve the optimum results they would like.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing allows advertisers to pay affiliates who link to their sites based on performance, and only when a desired action or sale occurs. Advertisers are usually referred to as merchants and the referring party as an affiliate or publisher.

Affiliate Network

An affiliate network is a third party that provides services to affiliate merchants and affiliates, including tracking technology, reporting tools and payment processing.

Affiliate Program

Any arrangement through which a merchant pays a commission to an affiliate for generating clicks, leads or sales from links located on the affiliate's site. Also know as associate, partner, referral and revenue sharing programs.

Affiliate Program Manager

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

Affiliate Reporting

The method by which an affiliate program sends information relating to tracked referred sales, leads or clicks.

Affiliate Software

Software that enables merchants to start their own in-house affiliate program without joining a network. The Share Results software solution allows merchants to work closely with affiliates and provides them with communication and marketing tools, as well as reporting features to help track campaign statistics.

Affiliate Solution Provider

A business that provides the software and services need to administer an affiliate program.

Affiliate Tracking

Refers to the implementation of technology that records referred sales, leads or clicks.

Banner Ad

Advertising in the form of a graphic image on a website.


Abbreviation 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'.

Blogging Affiliates

Blogging affiliates are affiliates who use blogs as a promotional method. They are similar to social media affiliates in the sense that the comments area on blogs gives customers a place to express themselves and interact with each other.


The act of clicking on a link and arriving at a website destination.


A marketing method whereby affiliates and merchants both include their logos on a website creative, indicating a partnership between the two brands. It is often used to generate greater brand awareness for each of the involved parties.


Also known as a referral fee, this is the income an affiliate is paid for generating a sale, lead, or click-through to a merchant's website.

Contextual Link

Placement of affiliate links within related text.


When a visitor to a website makes a purchase on the merchant's site, thereby becoming a ‘conversion’ from 'visitor' to 'buyer'.


A cookie is a piece of information sent by a web server to a web browser that the browser software is expected to save and to send back to the server whenever the browser makes additional requests from the server. Surfers may set their browser to either accept or not accept cookies. Cookies can contain user preferences, login or registration information and/or ‘shopping cart’ information. When a cookied browser sends a request to a server, the server uses the information to customize the user's experience.

Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)

The total sum spent either via paid search, email marketing or banner advertising to generate a sale. This can also refer to the commission that is paid to affiliate after a visitor performs certain requirements.

Cost Per Action (CPA)

A way of providing a cost-effective advertising solution to a merchant, whereby the advertiser is paid only on the result of a purchase or equivalent action, which may include signing-up to a mailing list or registering as a user on a website.

Cost Per Click (CPC)

Payment is made to the advertiser when a click is made from the advertiser's affiliate link through to your website, regardless of whether the click turns into a sale, lead, etc.

Coupon and Voucher Affiliates

Some affiliates target a niche of customers looking for deals and the best price by providing audiences with coupons or rebates. In the case of online stores, customers are given discounts for shopping at particular online retail locations.


In e-commerce and online shopping, a coupon or coupon code is used by shoppers to obtain a discount on their purchase, such as a percentage off a purchase, or free shipping. Online merchants offer coupon codes as an incentive to shoppers to purchase from their website. Many online merchants do not offer the coupon code directly on their own website, but instead will use well-known affiliate programs or offer the discount codes in their e-mail newsletter.


The promotional tools advertisers use to encourage users to click-through to the merchant site, or take action in some way. Examples are text links, towers, buttons, badges, email copy, pop-ups, etc.

Deep Linking

Deep Linking is a function of most affiliate networks, allowing the affiliate to send a visitor to a specific page on the merchant’s site. By default, the affiliate link normally will go to the homepage. Each network uses different methodology in their linking structure.

Domain Name

The unique name that identifies an Internet site.


Transferring a file from another computer to your own.

Dynamic Content

Website or blog content that changes frequently and engages the reader. Dynamic content can include animations, video or audio.

Email Affiliates

Using email can be a viable and profitable money-making channel for affiliates, especially if they have been able to build an active client list. Typically, an affiliate receives a link code for offers suitable for their target demographic, which can then be embedded into their email marketing campaign creatives.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is a tool used by businesses to promote their products and/or services. It is seen as a quick and cost-effective way of communicating with customers.


Exclusivity refers to exclusive rights or services, limiting or limited to possession, control, or use by a single individual or group. In Share Results, exclusivity refers to a merchant that is unique to the Share Results Network; they do not exist in any other network


A web document that is a shortened version of a web page that has been created for syndication. Feeds usually end in .xml or .rss.

Flash Banner

An advertisement on the Internet that stretches across websites, most often found at the top of the webpage. With Flash, users can draw their own animations or import other vector-based images.


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

Google Adwords

Google's Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising program.


A hit is a single request from a single item on a web server. To load a page with five graphics would count as six 'hits', one for the page plus one for each of the graphics.


HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) is a markup language used to structure text and multimedia documents, most often on the Internet. It is also used to set up hypertext links between documents on different pages or on the same page


An advertising metric that indicates how many times an advertising link is displayed

Incentivized Affiliates

Incentivized affiliate searching is where web traffic is given incentives to complete an action that results in the affiliate getting a commission. The incentive might be the chance to win a prize or money, discounts or free subscriptions.


An index term that a user may enter into a search engine to find relevant documents. SEO experts use keywords to attract users to their sites by use of strategic placement and programming strategies.

Keyword Density

The ratio between the keyword being searched for and the total number of words that appear on a web page.

Lifetime Value

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

Loyalty Affiliates

Loyalty affiliates are similar to incentivized affiliates, but, as the name suggests, traffic is rewarded for a longer term commitment to the merchant. Users would be required to become members of the site and to regularly partake in activities or make purchases.


An email message that is used as a principal means of contact with buyers, or email for other purposes, such as fund-raising or lead generation and direct marketing.

Manual Approval

The process by which all applicants for an affiliate program are individually reviewed and approved or disapproved in contrast to mass approval.


An online business that markets and sells goods or services, that pays an affiliate when they generate consumers who purchase a product, register for a service, fill out a form or visit a website. A merchant can also be described as an 'Advertiser', depending on the terminology adopted by an affiliate network.

Meta Tags

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

Mobile Affiliates

Mobile affiliates are people who either (a) target consumers through their phones or (b) target users who are interested in mobile products.


A network is defined as a collective of merchants and affiliates managed by an affiliate management team. The benefits of joining a network for merchants are access to a large number of targeted affiliates that can market their products to a wider audience as well as ease of tracking and reporting. For affiliates, the benefits will include access to a diverse range of products and brands to advertise and simplified payment and reporting tools.

Niche Marketing

Niche marketing is the process of advertising to a focused, targetable market segment.

Paid Search

An advertising model used on search engines, advertising networks and content sites, such as blogs, in which advertisers pay their host only when their ad is clicked. With search engines, advertisers typically bid on keyword phrases relevant to their target market. Content sites commonly charge a fixed price per click rather than using a bidding system.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

(1) An advertising payment model whereby the advertiser pays only when the advertisement is actually clicked. (2) An affiliate program where an affiliate receives a commission for each click (visitor) they refer to a merchant's website.


An abbreviation of 'picture element', a pixel is a single point in a graphic image. The basic unit of the composition of an image on a television screen, computer monitor or similar display. Commonly in retail affiliate marketing, merchants use pixel tracking to record all transactions or leads generated. In this context, a pixel is an invisible image that is normally fired on the final page of the shopping cart.


A small application that adds features to a larger application.


A term used to describe a website that is intended to be used as a main point of entry to the web or as a homepage.

PPC Affiliates

Pay Per Click (PPC) affiliates send traffic through to a merchant’s site using PPC engines such as Google AdWords and Yahoo/Overture and Miva. Affiliates purchase relevant keywords in search engines to lure traffic relevant sites that contain a merchant offer appropriate to the keyword used.


The amount of money you earn from your sales after your expenses have been paid.


Some affiliate networks use the term 'publisher' as an alternative to 'affiliate’.

Referring URL

The URL a user came from to reach your site.

Return on Investment

This is the amount derived by subtracting your net revenues from your total costs. This calculation is often used to calculate profitability and/or feasibility of PPC campaigns.


The total amount of your sales before expenses are subtracted.


See Return On Investment

Search Engine Optimization

The process of choosing keywords and keyword phrases relevant to your site or page on your site, and placing those keywords in the content of web pages. This is done in an effort to rank highly in search engines, to attract a high volume of visitors to a website.

SEO affiliates

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the practice of optimising the code and content of a website (as well as many other factors) to improve the site's ranking on search engines for specific keywords. SEO affiliates can also be referred to as ‘search affiliates’.

Social Networking Affiliates

Affiliates who extend the social element of their incentivised sites into other social media tools. Social networking affiliates leverage these tools to support the growth of their sites and communities.

Super Affiliates

The top one or two percent of affiliates that generate approximately 90% of most affiliate programs’ earnings.

Targeted Marketing

The process of distinguishing the different groups that make up a market, and developing appropriate products and marketing campaigns aimed at those specific groups.

Text Link

A link to a merchant’s site 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 website.

Tracking Method

The method by which an affiliate program tracks referred sales, leads or clicks.

Tracking URL

A website URL with a certain code attached to it. Visitors arriving at the site are tracked through this code.


Transparency, in the affiliate marketing sense, describes any act or transaction that is made transparent, or open, to the public. It can also refer to the level of detail in the affiliate software reporting.


Affiliate program structure whereby affiliates earn commissions on their conversions as well as conversions of webmasters they refer to the program.

Unique User

A unique visitor to your website. In terms of affiliate marketing and tracking, it is someone who has been identified and tagged.


Transferring a file from your computer to another computer.


URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator, and is the address of a site on the World Wide Web. Here's an example URL:

Viral Marketing

A marketing technique that induces websites or Internet users to pass on a marketing message to other sites or users.

Web Host

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

White label

A white label is a product produced by one company (the producer) that other companies (the marketers) rebrand to fit their own brand. Essentially, it is a product sold without any labeling, hence the term, which implies that the labeling is blank for the marketer to fill out as they wish. Generally, producers customize white label software versions according to a marketer’s needs.