Glossary of Affiliate Marketing Terms for Beginners

You can find digital marketing definitions for most online business terms with a quick search. The toughest part about finding definitions that are specific to affiliate marketing, is the same words can have different meanings depending on what you’re talking about. This glossary will ensure beginners have the right definitions from an affiliate marketer’s perspective.

If you want to learn more about affiliate marketing in Canada, beginners and veterans alike will benefit from reading our guide, How to Start Affiliate Marketing in Canada.

Affiliate Marketing for Canadians

Glossary of Affiliate Marketing Terms

Note: These terms make more sense if they’re in a somewhat logical order, so this glossary isn’t in alphabetical order like a normal one would be.

Affiliate Program (also known as a referral program or partner program) – Advertisers who want to offer a compensation plan to people who advertise for them, resulting in a desired action (sale, lead, etc.) will often offer an affiliate program. The program outlines the terms and conditions under which an advertiser pays the publisher (you) for sales or leads.

Affiliate Dashboard – Once you’ve signed up and receive approval, you’ll be able to sign into your account and view all kinds of data regarding your clicks and conversions on the program’s affiliate dashboard. You’ll also find your custom affiliate links, marketing creative (banners), special promotions, and everything else you need to promote each advertiser.

Affiliate Publisher – The person promoting a product or service in exchange for a commission. Alternate terms are “affiliate” or “partner”.

Affiliate Advertiser – The merchant or company you’ll be promoting.

Affiliate Network – Networks facilitate connections between publishers (website or blog owners) and advertisers. They handle everything from tracking to payments. You’ll also encounter many in-house partner programs that you can sign up for with individual advertisers. ShareASale is an example of a popular affiliate network.

Affiliate Link – When you sign up for an affiliate program, either directly with the advertiser or through an affiliate network, you’ll be assigned a special tracking number or name. That tracking ID will be part of a special link called an affiliate link.

Usually, you’ll begin by placing an ad on your website. If your visitor clicks on your link and makes a purchase (or otherwise fulfills the conversion requirements), you’ll earn an agreed-upon amount. Most merchants provide you with more than one type of link to choose from. The most common are text links, banners (display ads) and datafeeds.

Affiliate Network Canada
Affiliate Network Link Dashboard

Banner Ad – A display ad (graphic) promoting the advertiser’s products or services.

Interstitial Ad – A display ad that fills the entire screen. This type of ad may be frowned upon by some search engines.

Text Link – A link to an advertiser’s website not accompanied by an image.

Product Data Feed – Advertisers may provide a product feed to their affiliates. Feeds contain product info, images, prices & more for affiliates to use on their own website.

Native Advertising – Links blended into content to appear as natural and helpful as possible.

Conversion – When your referral completes a designated action as specified by the advertiser, it’s called a conversion. The action could be a click, purchase or sign-up.

Commission – How much you earn per click, lead or sale. If you bring consistent results, you may be offered a higher rate or you can initiate negotiations with the advertiser.

Tracking Cookies – The most common way for advertisers and affiliate networks to track traffic & sales generated by publishers, is by placing a cookie on the visitor’s computer. Cookies usually expire after a period of time determined by the advertiser (sometimes called the action referral period). Once the cookie has expired, you will no longer be credited for that referral’s purchases.

Impressions – Each time an ad is shown on a webpage, it counts as one impression.

First Click – Some advertisers promise to credit you for all sales from your referrals for a specified period of time. Even if the same referral clicks on a link from another publisher, their sales continue to be awarded to you. This term can also refer to compensation being limited to the first time a visitor clicks through a link, so make sure you’re clear on what each advertiser means if they use the phrase. Note that first click testing has an entirely different meaning outside of affiliate marketing.

Deep Linking – Some affiliate programs allow you to create your own affiliate links to a specific page on the advertiser’s website, known as a deep link.

Disclosure – You must disclose any relationship with your affiliate advertisers, including the potential for you to earn a commission from their links. It’s required by law in many countries, and consequently by most advertisers and affiliate networks.

For example, The Competition Bureau of Canada has strict requirements for posting reviews and opinions on social media. In the U.S., the Competition Bureau’s counterpart is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). If your readers are in the US, you must comply with FTC guidelines.

‘No Follow’ or ‘Sponsored’ – For Google search compliance, all sponsored or affiliate links must be HTML tagged rel=”nofollow” or rel=”sponsored” to let Google know they should not count the link as natural (not compensated).

For example, the html code for an affiliate text link would look like this, with the { } replaced with < >:
My favourite is the {a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow sponsored”}Click Magick{/a} affiliate management system, which allows me to track and optimize all of my affiliate marketing in one place and generate more revenue.

Payment Threshold – The payment threshold is the minimum amount you have to earn in order to receive a payout. Virtually all affiliate programs and networks have payment thresholds that you have to reach before being paid. Most advertisers will pay commissions monthly to affiliates who have met their payment thresholds (minimum). There is usually a holding period to allow for product returns.

Commission Clawback or Chargeback – If you’re paid out for a sale and that product is returned or the service is cancelled, the advertiser will claw back your commission for that sale. Most will only do this if the cancellation is during a trial period or return window. However, some less ethical affiliate advertisers will try to claw back commissions as much as a year later.

Affiliate Sales Funnel – Sales funnels are often built around affiliate products, replacing or enhancing other offers throughout the funnel. Mastering sales funnels is the key to the success of many “super affiliates”. There are lots of tools that make it easy for anyone to build sales funnels. Thrive Themes Funnels is a popular choice because it offers plenty of affordable funnel functionality. The Systeme suite of tools has a free level that includes a website builder, funnels, email list, affiliate program management, memberships & more.

Affiliate Marketing Acronyms

EPC – Earnings Per Click
PPC – Pay Per Click
PPL – Pay Per Lead
PPS – Pay Per Sale.
CTR – Click Through Rate

Is there an affiliate marketing word you don’t understand? Ask about it in the comments below or join our Online Business Canada Facebook group. We’ll continue to expand & update this Affiliate Marketing Glossary for Beginners. Please follow us on social media to be notified of updates.

Recession-Proof Online Businesses to Start from Home book

7 Recession Proof Online Businesses To Start From Home

Expert help to choose, start, and run the business of your dreams!
“Almost 200 pages of pure gold…”



©  Content on this website may not be used elsewhere without expressed permission. Thank you for respecting the effort that we have put into our original content.

DISCLOSURE: We may receive compensation for links to products on this website. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Our content is provided for informational purposes only and does not guarantee results.

COMMENTS ARE MODERATED – Legitimate comments will be published after a short delay. Spam will not be published.

Digital Business & Marketing Manager at Online Business Canada | Website | + posts

Melody McKinnon is an internet entrepreneur with 25 years of experience in a wide range of online business models, backed by a formal business education and enhanced by training and mentorship. She has owned or managed both educational and ecommerce websites. Her book, 7 Recession Proof Online Businesses to Start From Home, is available from all major ebook retailers.

Melody has worked with many businesses & brands in a multitude of capacities. She can often be found on,,, and, as well as other quality digital publications. Her content has earned reference links from highly-respected websites, magazines and university textbooks.

Follow Melody McKinnon on Medium:

Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

This glossary came up when I was trying to make sense of an affilaite marketing article and had to look up words to make sense of it. It was such a relief to find it all in one place so I finished the article faster than looking up every word I didn’t get. I’m reading your guide next OK?
XO Whitnee


Affiliate marketing was like a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language. I was discouraged because I’m excited to try it but I couldn’t make sense with the new lingo. Thanks for clearing it up in simple language. Still it’s alot but I feel I can handle it now. Such a great business idea once you nail it!