33 affiliate marketing terms and acronyms you need to know 

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EPC, CPA, Affiliate Network, Affiliate Program, Cloaking, Offers, Campaigns: ever got confused by all these affiliate marketing terms?

Navigating the acronyms and jargon of affiliate marketing can be quite daunting when you are starting your journey in this field. That’s why we listed some essential terms that will help you understand the industry.

Affiliate Marketing Terms Glossary


Also known as merchant, seller and vendor, an advertiser is an online company that sells products or services. They are the owner of an offer/product an affiliate publisher promotes and pay affiliates according to the commission model agreed.

Affiliate link

An affiliate link is a specific type of tracking link that you can generate from an affiliate advertiser to promote their offer. It contains the affiliate’s ID or username and it’s used by the advertiser to record the traffic that is sent to their website by each affiliate.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is the process by which an affiliate (publisher) earns a commission to generate traffic or leads to another person’s or company’s (advertiser) products or services.

Affiliate Network

An affiliate network is an intermediary company that oversees affiliate relationships for a number of other companies. 

Affiliate networks allow publishers to easily find suitable affiliate programs.  For advertisers, networks often manage functions such as technology, recruitment, tracking, payments, etc.

Affiliate Program

An arrangement through which the advertiser pays a fee to an affiliate for the action of generating clicks, sales or leads from links located on that affiliate’s website. These can also be known as partner, associate, revenue sharing or referral programs.


Backlinks are incoming links from a website to another website. They are also known as “inbound links”, “incoming links” or “one way links”.

Backlinks are very relevant for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) because they signal a “vote of confidence” from one site to another, enhancing the search engines trust in the quality of the linked content.

If you’d like more tips on SEO for affiliate marketing, check out our article on how to get quality organic traffic to your affiliate website.


Affiliate campaigns are ads or offers for affiliates to promote; usually for a defined period as opposed to longer running programs.

Affiliate campaigns often include a tracking URL, a landing page to lead to, and optionally a banner.


A chargeback occurs when a product is returned or a sale fails to materialize, and the advertiser deducts the amount the affiliate was previously given as a commission for that specific sale from their affiliate marketing commissions.

Click Fraud

Click fraud is when a person, computer program, or script generates fake clicks on a PPC ad. 

In affiliate marketing, that happens when a fraudster signs up to a CPC affiliate program and starts sending fake clicks to increase their commission.

Click ID

Click ID is a unique number attributed to each click. It contains important data about the click, such as segment, browser, hour, day, etc. It essentially contains data of where and when the user performed an action.


Cloaking, Link cloaking, or URL masking, is when a destination website’s URL is hidden by redirecting it to another web page. 

In affiliate marketing, that practice is used to track commissions and hide the affiliate ID. 

A cloaked link also helps create a credible and more appealing link for visitors, for example, if you have an affiliate link that looks like this: 


You can use cloaking to change this URL into a more specific link, such as:



Affiliate commission is the payout a publisher gets for successfully promoting a product or service. It can also be called ‘referral fee’, if the commission model (see below) is based on lead generation.

Commission model

Commission model is the way in which the advertiser or network pays the publisher.

Typically, the commission is earned per sale, through a RevShare or CPA (cost per action) model. But some affiliate marketing programs have other commission models and pay for leads, clicks, app downloads, etc.

Commission rate

Commission rate is the standard rate a seller pays their affiliates in exchange for an offer promotion.

The average affiliate commission rate is between 5–30%, but some advertisers may also offer performance-based bonuses.


The consumer is the individual who performs the action (purchase, form submit, download, etc) in order for the affiliate publisher to earn the commission from the advertiser.


Cookies are bits of information that a computer stores in a web browser when a user visits a website or clicks on a link.

CPA  (Cost per Action)

CPA, or Cost per Action, is one of the most common commission models in affiliate. In CPA, sellers pay out a flat rate for a specific action – usually a new sale.

In CPA, whether a user comes through your link and spends $40 or $400, you will get the exact same commission. 

Direct Partnership

Direct partnership is an affiliate agreement between an advertiser and a publisher, with no other party such as an affiliate network involved.

EPC (Earnings per Click)

EPC is the average amount of revenue you earn each time someone clicks on your affiliate links. To calculate it, divide your total revenue by total clicks on your affiliate links.

Total revenue / Total clicks on your affiliate links

First click attribution

In affiliate marketing, first click attribution refers to the attribution model that gives credit to the affiliate who first referred a customer to an offer.

First-party cookies

First-party cookies are cookies  issued by a website that a user views directly. For example, if a user accesses heylink.com, this site creates a cookie which is then stored on the user’s computer.

Last click attribution

In contrast to first click attribution, this type of attribution gives credit to the affiliate who last referred a customer to an offer; the affiliate link that the customer last clicked before performing the desired action (purchase, download, form fill, etc).


An affiliate marketing niche is a specific industry, service, or product that an affiliate publisher chooses to promote and work with.

Some of the main affiliate niches are fashion, travel, technology, education and gaming.


An offer, in affiliate marketing, is any type of advertising produced by advertisers (offer owners) and promoted by publishers (traffic owners). Offers can usually only be found in affiliate networks. 

Only a handful of advertisers make them directly available to affiliates. And some larger affiliates may get unique offers from advertisers to promote based on their performance.

Offer URL

An offer URL is the landing page URL on the advertiser site where a visitor will arrive after clicking the offer link. These landing pages are often designed specifically to convert the user to perform the desired action (sale, download, form fill).

Payment threshold

The payment threshold is the amount of paid commissions an affiliate publisher needs to achieve before being able to withdraw their earning or get paid by the network or program they are a part of.

Publisher, or Affiliate

An affiliate or publisher is a business owner or entrepreneur who creates content to promote products or services for a third party in exchange for a commission.

They forward visitors to the advertiser using the affiliate links provided by the advertisers and if that leads into a sale (or other desired action), the affiliate receives the agreed commission.

Affiliates can be bloggers, email marketers, influencers, creators, content site owners, product reviewers, shopping websites, mobile apps developers, or even mass media publishers with multiple titles, cashback and coupon websites. 


Revenue is the total amount of sales calculated before expenses are subtracted.


RevShare is a commission model where the seller designates a percentage of each sale to go to an affiliate. As opposed to CPA, where the commission is the same no matter the value of the sale.

If the commission is set at 10% and the sale that comes through the affiliate link makes a $40 purchase, the commission will be $4; if the purchase is $400, the commission will be $40.

ROAS (Return on Ad Spend)

ROAS is calculated by dividing the total revenue from ads by the total ad spend. It’s a quick way to evaluate how much you made from the money spent on paid ads.

Total revenue from ads / Total ad spend

Third-party cookie

Third-party cookies are cookies that are not created by the website visited, but by some other website, and then transferred from one website to the other.

Tracking links

Tracking links are special URLs that track behaviors such as clicks or purchases. They are used by advertisers and affiliates to monitor the performance of their campaigns.


SubID represents an additional parameter in your affiliate link which will be documented alongside your commissions after somebody clicks on the link.

It’s not a rule, but SubIDs tend to be at the end of the URL as a query parameter.

affiliate subid link

Are we missing anything?

If there is a term you can’t find and would like us to add, please let us know, write to our Community Manager Hannah, at hannah@heylink.com.