Affiliate Marketing Glossary: Terms You Need to Know
August 7, 2018

Affiliate Marketing Glossary: Terms You Need to Know

Malgorzata Weglarz

CrazyCall Partner Program

Are you new to affiliate marketing glossary? Here are some simple definitions to help you out. Check out our list of the essential affiliate marketing terms that will allow you to speak the language of the industry.


This party is also known as the publisher. Affiliate is a single individual or a company that promotes products or services owned by other parties (merchants) in exchange for a commission. They do not own the products and services, and they are not in charge of payments, logistics and customer service. They promote them by sharing their affiliate links.

Affiliate fraud

Any illegal activity (forbidden under the terms and conditions of an affiliate marketing program) performed by affiliates to generate commission. Examples of such activities are:

  • using stolen credit cards to generate sales
  • cookie stuffing – affiliate loads cookies onto the user’s computers when they visit the site. Fraudster earns a commission on future purchases, even if these users don’t click an affiliate link
  • bidding on terms not allowed by the merchant
  • spamming
  • domain squatting – a fraudster registers various domains with names similar to domains name (usually based on typos)
  • site cloning – copying of genuine affiliate site’s content
  • using adware.

Affiliate link

A unique link that each affiliate receives after being accepted into an affiliate program. Affiliate links allow tracking results, so the merchant knows which clients were brought by the partner. The most common type of tracking occurs via cookies.

Affiliate manager

A person responsible for the maintenance and growth of the affiliate marketing program, and the day-to-operations of managing the partners and relationships. Some of the duties include:

  • recruiting and verifying affiliates
  • providing support to the affiliates
  • monitoring affiliate performance and activities
  • campaign oversight concerning traffic quality and compliance
  • maintaining ongoing communication
  • implementing strategies and processes
  • implementing affiliate marketing activity including newsletters, blog posts
  • paying affiliates in a timely manner

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing. It involves three parties: an affiliate (publisher), a merchant (vendor) and a customer. It can also include a fourth party- an affiliate network. Each affiliate receives a unique affiliate link. When an online visitor clicks the affiliate link, the visitor is redirected to the advertiser’s website. When a visitor makes the desired action, a merchant pays the affiliate a fee or commission, e.g., the percentage of a sale made by a referred customer. A referred customer can be an individual or business that an affiliate knows personally or not.

Affiliate network

An affiliate network acts as an intermediary between the publishers and the merchants. By joining the affiliate networks, publishers can join affiliate programs of various companies and promote a variety of products and services. An affiliate network is responsible for paying affiliates. A merchant usually pays a network fee and a commission on affiliates’ sales.

Affiliate program

It can also be called an Associate Program, Referral, Partner or Revenue sharing program. It’s an arrangement between a vendor and an affiliate. A vendor agrees to pay an affiliate a commission or fee when someone clicks an affiliate link and perform the desired action described in the program’s terms. The process of creating affiliate links and tracking the results is automated.


A merchant can attribute credit to the customer’s first click, last click, or a combination of multiple clicks. In other words, if someone clicks the several affiliate links to a merchant’s website before performing a necessary action described in an affiliate program terms, the attribution model decides which link (and consequently which affiliate) will be rewarded for this action.

Authority site

A content-driven website that aims to publish trustworthy information. As the owners of authority sites want to prove that they are experts in particular topics, they cover them thoroughly.


The reversal of a previous sales transaction on a credit card. A chargeback occurs after the disputed charges have been investigated. The common reasons cardholders file chargebacks against merchants are:

  • Fraudulent transaction (the cardholder did not recognize the merchant’s name on the card statement, stolen credit card)
  • Transaction amount differs from the agreed upon amount
  • Products or services not delivered
  • Products or services have been delivered but differ from the description (quality of goods and services were inadequate, the merchant sent the wrong product, etc).
  • Duplicated transaction – a merchant charged a cardholder multiple times for the same purchase.
  • When a chargeback occurs, an affiliate commission associated with this payment is deducted from the partner’s balance.


The incentive affiliates receive from the merchant when visitors referred by them complete a necessary action. It can be a percentage on sale or bounty payment

Cookies lifetime

When a visitor clicks an affiliate link and visits a merchant’s website, information about the affiliate link is stored in a cookie in a visitor’s browser. Cookies lifetime describes how long relationship between a visitor and an affiliate will be valid. If a visitor clicks on an affiliate link, an affiliate will be credited with the referral as long as the visitor returns to a merchant’s website and performs a necessary action within a provided timeframe.


Pre-made marketing assets (text links, banners, screenshots, etc) delivered by the merchants that affiliates can use to promote their affiliate links.

Deep linking

Deep linking allows publishers to choose the page where they want to send their traffic instead of sending it to one landing page suggested by a merchant. This option gives more flexibility for promoting different affiliate offers than direct linking.

Direct linking

It is the process of linking directly to an affiliate offer (e.g., product page) without the use of landing pages. Direct linking gives them the ability to promote offers without having a website.

In-house affiliate program

An affiliate program created and managed by a merchant. A vendor is responsible for recruiting and managing affiliates, tracking their results and paying them. A merchant can implement their own tracking or a ready affiliate software.

Landing page

It is a page where visitors land after clicking an ad or text link. Landing pages are designed to convince a visitor to perform the desired action. Landing page is in the middle of an ad (with an affiliate link) and merchant’s website.

Last click counts

Most advertisers run their affiliate programs on “last click” basis. In this model, a merchant gives all the credit for a conversion to the last-clicked affiliate link.

Lifetime commission

Lifetime commission means that an affiliate receives a commission for as long as a referral remains a paying customer.

Manual approval

A process of accepting affiliates to a program after verifying their applications. Manual approval can also refer to the process of approving sales.

Merchant/ vendor/advertiser

This party owns the product. It can be an individual or a company. Merchant is responsible for creating a product or service, delivery, customer service, etc.


A specific area of the market that has its particular requirements, customers, and products.
For example, the diet segment can be divided into gluten-free, vegan, meat lovers, paleo, etc.

Niche marketing

The practice of challenging all the marketing efforts towards a specialized market segment instead of a broad range of potential clients.

The advantages of niche marketing:

  • less competition
  • lower marketing costs
  • it’s easier to build brand loyalty

The disadvantages of niche marketing;

  • less room for growth
  • some niches are too small to be profitable.

See also: Why You Need a Niche to Become a Successful Affiliate


In this model, the merchant pays publishers for valid clicks generated by the ads they run.


In this model, the merchant pays publishers for generated leads (people that created an account, filled out the form, subscribed for a newsletter, etc).


In this model, the publisher receives a commission on sales generated by the referred customers.

Payment Threshold

The minimum amount of commission required by an affiliate program to proceed with the payment. If a balance is before this threshold, affiliate won’t receive the money.

Recurring commission

A commission offered to an affiliate on each qualified action by the same referred customers. It can be a lifetime commission (for as long as a referral remains a customer) or in a specific timeframe.

Referred customers

Customers that registered after clicking an affiliate link of a particular publisher.

Two-Tier Affiliate Program

A model that allows affiliates to recommend other affiliates to an affiliate program and make commissions not only on their sales but also on sales generated by recommended publishers (sub-affiliates).

Unique Clicks

Unique clicks are the number of the different users that click on an affiliate link. If the same users click the link five times, it is counted as five total clicks and a single click.


In can also be called a Payout. The process of paying affiliates their commission. Some programs pay automatically after reaching a withdrawal threshold, some on a particular day, or per request (after reaching a minimum amount required to proceed with a payment). The most popular payments methods are PayPal and bank transfer.

Malgorzata Weglarz

CrazyCall Partner Program

Małgorzata is in charge of the CrazyCall Partner Program. When she's not helping affiliates or teaching people how to pronounce her full name (well.. just call her Margo :)), she is listening to street artists, eating Greek olives and traveling. You can reach her at [email protected]

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