The Affiliate Marketing Dictionary You Need to Start Learning


The affiliate marketing dictionary

If you’re an affiliate marketer or are considering joining an affiliate network, you may be finding some of the common terms and jargon used within the industry confusing.

We’ve created this simple affiliate dictionary provide you with an easy to understand guide to common marketing terminologies used by affiliate networks and partner sites, such as split tests, placement, and much more.

The Affiliate Marketing Dictionary Basics

What is affiliate marketing?

Let’s start with the affiliate marketing definition: A type of marketing arrangement in which an online business pays a third-party partner for generating leads or making sales on a referral basis.

Generally, when we talk about the meaning of affiliate, we are referring to the individuals who work with an affiliate network to promote products or services and earn commissions – you.

If you promote, sell or generate leads for an affiliate network in order to earn money from them for each successful action you achieve, you’re an affiliate marketer.

Basic terms of affiliate marketing

Even before you join an affiliate scheme and are just starting out learning the industry and looking around at what is on offer, you’ll find that you keep running into several basic terms that are widely used and understood by those in the know.

Here are some of the first words you should add to your affiliate marketing dictionary:

• Affiliate link

Affiliate links are the bread and butter of affiliate schemes – these are unique, automatically generated bespoke links that are provided to you as the affiliate to promote your products or services. Using a unique link ensures that every conversion, click or sale is recorded to the right affiliate account so that your commissions are registered and paid out.

• Angles

Angles are the approaches that you take to promoting or selling goods or services. This may also be known as your marketing angle or marketing approach. For instance, if you’re trying to sell a mattress, your angle might be that it provides a good night’s sleep.

• Banner

A banner is a type of advertisement that you’ve probably seen thousands of times already. They’re visual adverts that are comprised of text designed to inform, engage, and promote, and maybe some imagery too. Banners are placed prominently within a website, app, or forum to showcase your services and encourage clicks.

• Blacklist

A blacklist is a list of websites, email addresses, or adverts that behave in such a way that the holder of the list deems inappropriate – and so, will deny service to. For instance, if you use your email account to send out spam mail, it’s likely to end up on a blacklist.

• Click fraud

Click fraud is the practice of artificially attempting to inflate the number of clicks that an advert receives, to make it appear that a lot of visits are being made or traffic received in order to mislead the affiliate’s success metrics and take home more commission.

• Cloaking

Cloaking refers to the process of deliberately hiding the content of a link or destination site in order to try to bypass advertising restrictions imposed by certain platforms. For instance, Facebook has some very onerous advertising rules and restrictions that may mean you would need to consider cloaking links to avoid being banned for policy violations.

• CPA marketing

CPA stands for “cost per action” or sometimes, “cost per acquisition.” This is a type of payment model in which the affiliate will be paid a set commission for achieving a specified action, such as making a sale or generating a sign-up. Therefore, the CPA marketing definition is promoting and marketing a service or product with a view to maximizing the number of actions or acquisitions achieved.

• Direct Linking

Direct linking means setting up your ads, promotions, and links to direct your prospects to the affiliate scheme you are working with, rather than first sending them to your own website or another third-party page.

• Lander

A lander or landing page is the page of a website that a visitor “lands” on or arrives at when they follow a link or click on an advert. This will often be the front page or home page of the website, but it is possible to have multiple landing pages for different ads or campaigns.

• Marketing verticals

What are verticals? Vertical markets are markets that serve demand and provide solutions for a specific niche or industry. This means that marketing verticals involve selling or promoting goods or services that are wholly or largely designed to meet the needs of a specific type of buyer. In contrast, horizontal marketing takes a much broader approach to try to sell and promote goods or services to a wider, more generic audience who may not have a lot in common with each other.

• Merchant

A merchant is a person or organization that sells goods or services, and so in an affiliate context, this refers to your partner in the affiliate scheme who handles the sales you generate and provides the products or services to the end user.

• Niche

A niche is a specific type of industry, product, or service that you as the affiliate work with and promote. Some common and popular niches include adult dating services, homewares, and gadgets – or specific types of products and services from within a wider umbrella grouping.

• Optimising

Optimising refers to the process of creating and writing a website or advert in order to ensure that it performs at its best in search engine searches – and that it stands the best chance of appearing near to the top of search results for your products, services, or niche.

• Placement

Placement or ad placement refers to the channels and platforms that you showcase your ads on – and ad placement determines where your promotions will be seen and to a large extent, by whom.

• Split test

A split test or A/B test is a way of comparing two adverts or website pages to see which of them performs the best. This can be helpful to allow you to identify your best-performing content, and to decide where to spend your ad budget.

Parts of affiliate marketing

There are various different parts of affiliate marketing, and the main parties involved each have different types of accompanying terminology to explain what they do, and how they do it.

Oftentimes, you will come across several different terms all used to describe the same thing, and so we’ll finish off by covering the basics of the different parts of the affiliate marketing framework.


An advertiser is a person who places or seeks to place adverts – which means you as an affiliate who is promoting a product using various different types of free or paid ad placements.

Affiliate marketer

An affiliate marketer is sometimes simply called an affiliate, and this is the person who partners up with an affiliate network to market their goods or services in order to earn commission.

Affiliate network

An affiliate network or affiliate scheme is the company or framework that brings affiliates together with sellers, and that manages and oversees the operation of the partnership by registering actions or acquisitions and paying commissions.

The customer

The most important part of the whole endeavor! The customer – or prospect – is the person that you as an affiliate will be trying to reach, target and sell to. Being able to do this effectively is how you succeed and make money!

Traffic source

A traffic source is a place that sends visitors to your website, promotions, or offers – and advertisement is a traffic source, as is anything else that drives prospects to your links or affiliate website.

There are of course lots of other niche-specific and industry terms that you will come across during your affiliate career, depending on the type of goods or services you showcase and how you do it. This affiliate marketing dictionary will give you a good grounding in the basics to get you started, and help you to get going on the right foot during your early days!

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