The Ultimate Guide to Affiliate Marketing Terms: Speak the Language Like a Pro

by Jay Kang | Updated on November 29th, 2023
marketing terms

If you’re diving into the world of affiliate marketing, you’ve got an incredible journey ahead of you.

Whether you’re an advertiser or an affiliate, knowledge is your most valuable asset. One of the biggest hurdles newcomers face is understanding the lingo—the jargon that can sound like a foreign language.

That’s where this guide comes in. We aim to make every term in the affiliate marketing world crystal clear, offering you a head start in your new venture.

Abbreviations in Affiliate Marketing

CPA: Cost Per Action

At the top of our list is CPA, or Cost Per Action, a prevalent term not only in affiliate marketing but also in other online marketing channels. It refers to the cost an advertiser pays when a user takes a specific action, such as making a purchase or filling out a contact form. While often used interchangeably with terms like Cost Per Sale (CPS) or Cost Per Lead (CPL), it’s crucial to recognize that CPA encompasses both of these elements.

CPC: Cost Per Click

CPC, or Cost Per Click, is a pricing model used predominantly in online advertising. Here, the advertiser pays a fixed rate every time their ad gets clicked on. It’s a straightforward way to measure engagement, and it forms the backbone of many advertising platforms, including Google Ads.

CPCV: Cost Per Completed View

Advertisers often use video content to engage with their target audience. When a consumer fully watches a video, that action is measured as a “completed view.” The advertiser pays a predetermined amount to the affiliate for each of these completed views.

CPL: Cost Per Lead

In the CPL model, advertisers pay for each qualified lead generated. A lead could be an email address, a filled-out contact form, or a requested quote. While it doesn’t necessarily result in an immediate sale, a lead can often turn into a future customer.

CPM: Cost Per Mille

Cost Per Mille (CPM) is another pricing model, but it’s based on impressions rather than actions or clicks. The term “mille” refers to a thousand views. Advertisers opt for this model when their primary focus is brand visibility, rather than direct engagement.

CPS: Cost Per Sale

Cost Per Sale (CPS) is quite straightforward: the advertiser pays a commission to the affiliate every time their referral leads to a sale. The commission fee is usually a fixed percentage of the sale price.

EPC: Earnings Per Click

EPC stands for Earnings Per Click, a metric used to measure an affiliate’s effectiveness in converting clicks into commissions. It is calculated by dividing the total earnings by the total number of clicks.

OBA: Online Behavioral Advertising

This type of advertising involves targeting consumers based on their online behavior, such as websites visited or search queries used. It allows for highly personalized ad placement, aiming to convert browsers into buyers.

PPC: Pay Per Click Advertising

Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising is similar to CPC but is generally associated with specific platforms like Google AdWords. In this model, you pay for every click your ad receives.

ROI: Return on Investment

One of the most critical metrics in any form of business, Return On Investment (ROI), quantifies the profitability of your marketing efforts. It is calculated using the formula ROI = (revenue – marketing expenses) / marketing expenses.

Common Affiliate Marketing Terms


An affiliate, often referred to as a publisher, is someone who promotes the advertiser’s products or services using their platforms like websites, social media, or blogs. When these efforts result in a sale, the affiliate earns a commission.

Affiliate Agreement

The Affiliate Agreement is a formal contract between the advertiser and the affiliate. It outlines each party’s responsibilities and sets the terms for payouts and commissions.

An affiliate link is a unique URL used to track the source of a sale. It helps in identifying which affiliate should receive credit and, consequently, the commission for a particular sale.

Affiliate Marketing: The Basics

Affiliate marketing is a business model where you earn commissions by promoting other people’s (or companies’) products or services. It is a win-win situation: brands get increased exposure, and affiliates earn money through their marketing efforts.

Affiliate Network

An affiliate network acts as a marketplace for advertisers and affiliates. It is a hub where companies list their products for promotion, and affiliates can pick what they’d like to market.

Conversion Rate

The conversion rate measures the percentage of users who take a desired action. This could mean making a purchase, filling out a form, or subscribing to a newsletter.


In the context of affiliate marketing, a niche refers to a specific market segment that an affiliate focuses on. Niches can range from pet care to tech gadgets, and choosing the right one is crucial for success.


A white-label product is a product produced by one company that other companies rebrand and sell as their own. In affiliate marketing, this could refer to affiliate software or even products.

Who’s Who in Affiliate Marketing


The advertiser is the entity offering a product or service. Their role is to provide the affiliates with the necessary promotional materials and to pay commissions on sales or leads.


Much like we’ve mentioned before, the affiliate or publisher is the person responsible for the promotion. They use their platforms to drive traffic and generate sales for the advertiser.

Sub-Affiliate Network

A network within a network, sub-affiliate networks are often used to introduce a layer between the advertiser and the affiliate, serving as a means of more controlled, tracked, and managed affiliate partnerships.


Last but certainly not least, the consumer is the end customer making the purchase. While they may or may not be aware of it, their actions are the lifeblood of affiliate marketing. Their purchases result in profits shared between the affiliate and the advertiser.

Miscellaneous Yet Essential Terms

Above the Fold

The portion of a webpage that is visible without scrolling is referred to as “above the fold.” This area is prime real estate for content and advertisements.


An autoresponder is an automated email system that sends out pre-written emails to subscribers at set intervals. These are often used for marketing funnels and customer retention strategies.

Click Fraud

Click fraud is a deceptive tactic where someone clicks on an ad with the sole intention of driving up advertising costs. This act is considered illegal and is highly discouraged.


Cloaking is a controversial technique where the content presented to the search engine spider is different from that presented to the user. This is generally frowned upon and can result in penalties from search engines.

A cookie is a small piece of data stored on a user’s computer, which helps track their actions and preferences. In affiliate marketing, cookies are essential for tracking sales and attributing them to the correct affiliate.


This involves promoting other products or offers that are related to the original item. For example, if you’re promoting a fitness e-book, you might also promote related products like fitness equipment or supplements.


Geo-targeting involves delivering different content or advertisements based on the user’s geographic location. This can be as broad as a country or as specific as a zip code.

Landing Page

A landing page is a single web page specifically designed for a particular advertising campaign. Its primary aim is to get the visitor to take some form of action, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter.


Retargeting is an online advertising strategy aimed at targeting users who have previously visited a website but did not make a purchase. By using cookies, advertisers can show these users specific ads to encourage them to return to the site.

Revenue Sharing

In this model, the affiliate earns a share of the advertiser’s profits. The amount is agreed upon in the Affiliate Agreement and is often a percentage of each sale.

Tracking ID

A tracking ID is a unique identifier embedded in an affiliate link. It serves to track the activities resulting from that specific link, enabling proper credit and commission allocation.


Understanding the lingo is your first step towards success in affiliate marketing. With the terms and abbreviations in this guide, you’re well on your way to making informed decisions, optimizing your strategies, and maximizing your profits. Whether you’re an advertiser or an affiliate, consider this your go-to resource for all things affiliate marketing.

Jay Kang

Jay Kang, entrepreneur and SEO expert, is the driving force behind innovative platforms like and His latest creation, ProductReview.Tools, provides affiliate marketers with a powerful WordPress plugin for crafting high-converting reviews. Committed to empowering marketers, Jay continues to make a positive impact in the digital marketing space.