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Performance Marketing: An Affiliate Marketing Glossary

The affiliate marketing industry is a dynamic world with a language of its own. The vocabulary used to describe the unique nuances of this business space is not always widely or easily understood. 

Performance marketing, an advertising model that allows advertisers to pay a fixed dollar amount for a specified result, includes both affiliate marketing and lead distribution. These two models come with many terms that need to be understood in order to build strategies and optimize digital campaigns. This blog serves as an affiliate marketing glossary and we’ll cover lead distribution terms in a later one.

Once you’ve been a part of the affiliate marketing industry for an extended period of time, the terminology will begin to roll off your tongue. However, sometimes a refresher is needed. Or, if you’re new to the industry and are feeling a little lost, nailing down some of the basic terms will help you get on your way to creating high-performing campaigns. Whichever the case may be, CAKE is here to help.

This affiliate marketing glossary will get you up to speed in no time. 

  • Advertiser: A company that markets and sells goods or services. It is the company that owns or is brokering the offer. From a network’s perspective, they are the person who’s paying.
  • Affiliate: Also known as a publisher, the affiliate is the source running traffic to an offer. These sources can be traditional “affiliates” or even the source for a media buy, i.e. Yahoo!
  • Affiliate marketing: When an affiliate features a medium designed to drive traffic to another site; and in return earns a commission for the results yielded from the traffic they refer. 
  • Affiliate fraud: Refers to any false or unscrupulous activity conducted to generate commissions from an affiliate marketing program
  • Affiliate network: A company that connects affiliates with advertisers and provides various tracking technology, reporting tools, and payment processing services. 
  • API: Application Programming Interface is a code that makes data and/or functionality from one website available for use in other applications.
  • Attribution: The process of identifying a set of user actions that contribute to a desired outcome, and then assigning a value to each of these actions.
  • Analytics: Technology that helps analyze the performance of digital marketing campaigns.
  • Browser post: A post that uses the cookie placed on the browser from the click to determine the lead’s origin.
  • Campaign: The relationship between an affiliate or source and the offer that they are driving traffic to. A campaign is a more granular version of an offer.
  • Campaign targeting: A method of targeting by location, device, language, operating system (OS), and Internet Service Provider (ISP) that aims to increase conversion rates. 
  • Caps: Defines the limit on clicks, traffic, leads, and more.
  • Click fraud: Clicks feigned or spoofed to mislead advertiser KPIs, defraud CPC campaigns, or steal attribution for a payable event.
  • Click pixel: A javascript or image tag that is placed on an HTML landing page to track a click when a redirect link cannot be used.
  • Closed-loop reporting: A method that monitors how purchased leads are processed through the sales funnel.
  • Commission: Also known as a referral fee, this is the payment made to a publisher for referring a lead to the advertiser’s website.
  • Conversion pixel: A javascript, iframe, or image tag that is placed on an HTML thank you page to track when a user converts on the offer. 
  • Cookies: Information that a computer stores in a web browser when a user visits a website or clicks on a link. It allows websites to keep track of an individual’s visits and activity, as well as attribute referrals to the relevant partners.
  • Cost per click: A type of cost metric whereby an advertiser pays each time a user clicks to their landing page.
  • Ecommerce: The promotion of buying and selling goods and services, over an electronic network, primarily the internet.
  • Fingerprint tracking: A probabilistic approach to attributing customer actions back to digital advertisements they interacted with.
  • Fixed: A type of cost metric where the price paid to an affiliate remains constant, no matter how many or few conversations they generate.
  • Geotargeting: The method of targeting users based on their geographic location; can include country, state, and city.
  • Impression:  A term referring to the viewing of an advertising or marketing message, or the act of opening an HTML email.
  • Impression pixel: A javascript of an image tag that is placed within an HTML creative that tracks how often that creative is loaded or viewed.
  • Mobile marketing: The process of using advertisements optimized for mobile devices, whether in an app or mobile browser to reach users.
  • Offer: The promotion of a public product or service to which an affiliate or other source can drive traffic to. Offers usually appear as landing pages.
  • Optimization: The process of making changes to a marketing campaign that specifically improves the results it generates. 
  • Payout: Revenue per one sale or conversion.
  • Postback URL: A server call made to a third-party URL that indicates when a conversion or event has occurred. 
  • Publisher: A person or company that provides marketing services for advertisers or traffic to an offer. See also affiliate.
  • Retargeting: Serving ads to users after they have left an advertiser’s website to capitalize on interest. Re-targeting helps companies advertise to a user who did not convert on the offer.
  • Targeting: The method by which a system controls which users are shown or redirected to designated pages based on certain triggers of identifiable criteria. 
  • Tracking: The process of monitoring a campaign’s details, including results yielded and determining the origin of those results. 
  • Unique clicks: The first click from a user as determined by cookies that does not include any subsequent or duplicate clicks. 

Other content you might be interested in:

Blog: Affiliate Marketing: An Ultimate Guide for 2021, Part 1

Blog: A Complete Affiliate Marketing Software Checklist for Choosing the Right Solution

Blog: CAKE – Affiliate Marketing Success Stories