Talk the Talk: Learn Affiliate Marketing Lingo

If you’re new to affiliate marketing, you may be wondering why there are so many dang acronyms and weird words. Here’s a comprehensive list of affiliate marketing lingo to help you out.

If you’re new to the affiliate marketing world, you may have noticed a lot of industry-specific terminology being thrown around that can make it hard to grasp the inner workings of affiliate programs. In reality, though, most affiliate marketing programs are actually simple, straightforward commission sales arrangements. By learning a few key terms, you can start to delve into the intricacies of affiliate marketing and make profits you’ve never seen before by simply promoting products. Consider this a starter glossary to help kick off your explorations.


Someone who agrees to promote products or services for a third party in exchange for a financial reward for sales or leads.

Affiliate Agreement

The agreement between an affiliate and a merchant that governs the terms of their relationship.

Affiliate Network

A company that oversees affiliate relationships for a number of other companies, managing functions such as technology, recruitment, tracking, payments, etc.

Banner Ad

A graphical form of Internet advertising that can be placed on an affiliate’s website. Banner ads often promote a company as a whole, whereas text links tend to be used for product-specific promotion.


An additional sum awarded to an affiliate for performance above and beyond expectations.

Charge Back

A purchase can be “charged back” when a customer disputes a charge or purchase through their credit provider or bank, usually because the customer claims that the charge or purchase was unauthorized, fraudulent, or unfunded. Chargebacks cost vendors money and harm their reputation as a trusted online retailer.

Commison Rate

The standard rate a merchant pays to affiliates in exchange for their promotion, whether it’s a click-through or a purchase.


The process of successfully persuading website users to perform a specific, desired action – for instance, completing a purchase or joining an email list.


A text file that is stored in a browser for a specified period of time in order to hold information such as last date visited. Cookies are used to track unique IDs in the affiliate marketing world.

Cost Per Click (CPC)

The cost paid per individual click-through on a banner ad or affiliate link.

Cost Per Thousand (CPT)

The method typically used to calculate the cost per 1,000 impressions of an online advertisement or text link.

Earnings Per Click (EPC)

A metric that indicates the profit generated by each click to a specified link. 

Last Click

A common method of tracking conversions in the affiliate world. When a Web-surfer clicks on an affiliate link, that affiliate’s tracking code is typically stored as a cookie until he or she encounters a different tracking code. Credit for the purchase typically goes to the last affiliate whose cookie was stored.


The provider of goods or services in an affiliate agreement. A merchant is generally the actual company that processes the payment from the customer.

Text Link

A link to an affiliate site or product that is included as part of the copy on a page, rather than through a banner ad.

Tracking Code

A unique ID assigned to each affiliate and included in affiliate links to track the number of actions resulting from their promotions.

Unique Clicks

A calculation of the number of individual users who click on a link. Unique clicks are calculated separately from total clicks in order to understand how many users have clicked on a link multiple times.

By mastering just a handful of affiliate marketing lingo terms like these, you can start to understand and consider the possibilities of an affiliate relationship. These programs are popular in the digital marketing world because typically, both the affiliate and merchant benefit. This makes affiliate marketing programs a good avenue to explore if you’re investigating ways to make money online.


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