Glossary of Affiliate Terms by Ringba’s CEO Adam Young

Key terms, common phrases and abbreviations you’ll encounter in the affiliate marketing space.

Above the Fold – The part of an advertisement or web page that is visible to a user without scrolling.

Ad Copy – Text used inside of an advertisement or advertorial.

Ad Exchange – A marketplace where aggregators, publishers, website owners, and ad networks come together to buy, sell and exchange their inventory of advertising space.

Ad Network – A business that gives advertisers access to their inventory of advertising space.

AdCenter – Microsoft’s search engine marketing platform for Bing.

Advertiser – A buyer of advertising space, or action taken by a user.

Advertising Manager – The day to day contact for a group of advertisers that work with an affiliate network. These people are responsible for managing compliance and traffic to specific advertisers and working with them to deliver a successful campaign.

AdWords (Google Ads) – Formerly known Google AdWords, is the world’s biggest marketplace for advertising based on user’s searches run by Google. Anytime you see an advertisement after making a search on their website it is generated through the Google Ads program.

Affiliate – An individual or company that runs performance-based campaigns in exchange for a commission.

Affiliate Manager – The day to day contact for a group of affiliates that work with an affiliate network. These people have access to a wide range of information typically unavailable to affiliates and are an invaluable resource when used correctly. It is important to make sure you create a good relationship with your affiliate managers because they can be your window into the entire industry.

Affiliate Marketing – A form of marketing where the ‘affiliate’ bears all the risk of the transaction, allowing companies to grow their user-base risk free. This form of advertising is entirely performance based: if you do not produce the desired outcome, you will not be paid for your work. This form of marketing is not for the risk averse and typically results in lost money before any progress is made. However, when a campaign is created that becomes profitable, affiliate’s revenue is not capped or limited unless due to capacity issues.

Affiliate Network – Networks act like central hubs or marketplaces for advertisers and publishers to work together. Typically these relationships are blind and only the affiliate network knows who both parties are. This business model makes it easy for people to get involved in online advertising and to broker advertisements. The blind model also makes compliance significantly more complex and publishers much harder to police. Buying affiliate network traffic is a great way to grow your business if you’re able to provide compliance feedback and the network is proactive about your brand guidelines.

Agency – A company that provides services such as planning, creating, buying, and tracking advertisements and ad campaigns on behalf of a client.

Analytics – Tracking information about your users to learn who interacts with your campaigns to determine who to market to.

Attribution – The act of tying two activities together to determine the source of a desired action (ie click, call, conversion)

Audience – A segment or group of users, typically organized by source, interest or other criteria.

Backlink – A link from any other website that goes to yours where you are not required to reciprocate and link to their website.

Below the Fold – The part of an advertisement or web page that is visible to a user after scrolling.

Blackhat – Marketing and promotional methods that specifically violate the guidelines or terms of a traffic source, affiliate network, advertiser or other participant in the value chain. Typically engaging in blackhat techniques will result in non-payment and termination on whatever platform is involved.

Bot Traffic – Short for ‘Robot Traffic, bot traffic is generated by computers and is typically used to defraud a party somewhere in the value chain.

Breakage – Tracking errors between two parties involved in online advertising that a reconciled or settled later. Breakage typically benefits brokers, advertising networks, affiliate networks, and pay per call networks because they do not disclose breakage to their partners and will keep the additional revenue without disclosing to their publishers and affiliates.

Bulk Mail – A term for describing large volumes of legally sent email marketing messages.

Call To Action – A call to action is a type of wording that commands a user to take an action. Typically these words and phrases are designed to cause the specific action to be taken immediately while the user is currently in the mindset of acting, or has the intent to purchase.

Campaign Assets – Creative assets for the promotion of a specific advertising campaign. Examples are banners, landing pages, designs, promotional materials, email marketing templates and more.

Click – When a user clicks an advertisement its simply called a click.

Click Tracking – The process of recording information about the customer journey from the links they click. 

Clicks – The total number of clicks on a platform. 

Cloaking – Stopping the traffic source from viewing the advertisement being shown to users to bypass compliance requirements or brand guidelines. This activity typically results in the termination of an account at an advertising network or traffic source when it is discovered.

Co-Reg – Partnering with another company to use their existing customer base to gain new customers.

Comment Spam – Similar to link spam, it is automated posting of comments on forums or websites that allow public interaction. These links drive traffic to the promoted website and help with search engine rankings until the search engines discover it is repeated spam and de-list the site.

Compliance – Monitoring of marketing and promotional methods to make sure they meet your client’s brand guidelines.

Content Marketing – Using content to promote products and services. This is usually done by telling a story about a real or fictitious user of the product and how it worked for them. Another form of content marketing is to use click-bait style ads to promote content that hopefully gets the user to browse a site and produce a profit based on click arbitrage. Celebrity news sites are a great example of content marketing in this regard.

Content Network – Content networks are usually 3rd party partners of an ad network where content or advertisements are syndicated. Sometimes there is full transparency allowing the buyer to see who these partners are and to choose which are allowed to run the advertising campaign, and sometimes no visibility is given into where the ads are displayed. Always ask your account managers for information about where your ads are displaying so you can determine if it is a good fit and learn what to avoid and what works best for you.

Conversion – When a user completes a desired action that typically results in financial compensation or the capture of user information.

Conversion Funnel – An advertising funnel is designed to capture information about a user and direct them further into a sales process to get them closer to a sale. Different people react different ways to materials and segmenting the type of user and displaying a more relevant message typically yields better results. Sometimes marketers will ask a user a question about their likes or age before sending them to the next page. This allows them to take that information and customize the following information to the user’s liking, increasing the chances they’ll complete the desired action. It’s called a funnel because it starts at the top with a big opening and no classification, and then as the user moves through the process more is learned about them and the message becomes more tightly targeted.

Conversion Rate – The percentage of users that view your offering or landing page and actually complete the desired action. For instance, if 100 users visit your site, and 10 of them sign up for your newsletter, your conversion rate would be 10%, assuming that newsletter sign-ups were the goal for the page.

Copywriting – Skilled writing specifically designed to get a user into the mental zone to make a purchase or register for a service. Marketing people regularly undervalue the power of good copywriting — always remember that it matters more how you say something than what you say. Having a great copywriter can mean the difference between an exceptionally profitable advertising campaign and complete failure.

CPA – Cost Per Action – Paying a partner / publisher only when the user completes a specific action like filling out a form or making a purchase. CPA Is the generic team in the affiliate marketing industry for an ‘acquisition’ of a customer and may be interchanged at times with CPL or CPS.

CPC – Cost Per Click – The price paid for every click when buying traffic.

CPI – Cost Per Install – Paying a publisher only when a user installs software on their computer, an extension or toolbar into their browser, or an application on their mobile device.

CPL – Cost Per Lead – Paying a publisher only when a user signs up for some type of promotion allowing you to contact them via whatever means were required by the campaign.

CPM – Cost Per Mille – The rate paid per thousand impressions when buying traffic. For instance, if you purchased banner traffic at $5 CPM and received 10,000 impressions you would calculate your cost by dividing 10,000 by 1,000, then multiply the result by your CPM rate.

CPO – Cost Per Order – The average cost of advertising to generate an order or sale.

CPS – Cost Per Sale – Paying a partner / publisher for traffic only when a sale occurs. Typically CPS campaigns pay a percentage of the gross sale as a commission rate instead of a flat fee per sale.

Created Inventory – Advertising space inside of software, or created by 3rd party software. For instance, if you see a banner inside of a windows application like uTorrent, this would be created inventory. Advertisements injected by browser extensions or toolbars are also be considered created inventory.

Creatives – A general term for campaign assets designed for the promotion of an advertising campaign. Examples include banners, landing pages, designs, promotional materials, email marketing templates, and more.

CTR – Click Through Rate – The percentage of people that click an advertisement they are shown. For instance, if you show an advertisement to 100 people and 5 of them click, you have a 5% click through rate. This example is simplified for training purposes, typical click through rates are usually much lower and depend on the user segment, targeting, traffic source type and other various factors.

Daily Budget – The amount of money you are willing to spend on a daily basis for a campaign. Setting a daily budget on any ad network or platform does not guarantee you will actually receive that amount of traffic, only that you won’t receive more.

Day Parting – Buying advertising space or media only during specific hours of the day. This may be due to constraints like sales people’s hours in a call center, or because people don’t complete the desired action during specific hours of the day.

Deliverability – A way of measuring if an email will arrive in a destinations inbox. 

Domainers – People or companies that engage in domaining.

Domaining – The practice of acquiring domain names for future sale or traffic generation.

Domain Portfolio – A group of domain names that is owned for the sole purpose of generating traffic to advertisements or reselling the domains for a profit. This may include typo domains, branded domains, dictionary word domains, expired domains, or other types of domains that hold more value than the original price of registration.

eCPM – Estimated Cost Per Mille – The estimated cost or revenue per thousand impressions.

Email Bounce Rate – The percentage of people who’s email address was not deliverable. It is important to track email messages that are not delivered and prune them from your list to stay in good graces with email service providers. To calculate your bounce rate, you take the number of emails delivered and divide it by the number of emails sent. For instance if we sent 1,000 emails and 20 of them came back as ‘undeliverable’ the bounce rate would be 2%. To calculate this we take 20 / 1,000 = .02 and multiple .02 * 100 to get the whole number percentage of 2%.

Email Drip – A campaign that automatically contacts users on a set schedule. An example would be a drip campaign that sends a user an email 3 times a week for 3 months.

Engagement – When a user interacts with a website in a desired way or context.

Entry Pop – A popup that happens immediately when a user arrives at a landing page before they have a chance to interact with it.

EPC – Earnings Per Click – Estimated revenue per click of a campaign. Typically calculated by taking the revenue and dividing it by the number of clicks it took to generate. For instance, $100 in revenue from 1,000 clicks has an EPC of $0.10 per click.

Exit Pop – A popup that happens when a user tries to leave a website, close a browser, or close a tab.

Facebook Ads – Facebook’s proprietary ad platform for targeting users on Facebook, Instagram, and Atlas.

Fold – The section that divides content that is visible to the user on initial page load (also known as ‘Above The Fold’) and the content that requires the user to scroll down (also known as ‘Below The Fold’).

Geo Targeting – Targeting users based on their geographic location. Typically campaigns are broken down by country by advertisers to organize customers by value, language, and laws. In more mature markets like the United States, Canada, and portions of Europe, some campaigns are broken down on a state or region basis to manage government licensing and local capacity for real-world service. Health insurance and home services like plumbing and roofing are good examples of regional campaigns.

Google Analytics – A service from Google that allows you to view information about your users as they visit your websites by simply placing a small snippet of JavaScript code that gathers information about your users.

Google Tag Manager – A service from Google that allows you to place and manage multiple tags and code snippets on your website from a single interface.

Greyhat – Marketing and promotional methods that take advantage of opportunities that may use methods and tactics that are not specifically allowed by the brand, but are borderline unacceptable and may cause user complaints. Sometimes brands intentionally allow this type of behavior but enjoy the deniability that comes with it, sometimes they simply do not know about them, are not properly monitoring their traffic sources, and when discovered may no longer allow it.

Guerilla Marketing – Extremely low budget marketing designed around loopholes, creative ideas and figuring out how to reach large volumes of users without having to spend much or any money.

Impressions – An impression is a view of any kind of advertisement.

Inboxed – An email marketing campaign that was not flagged as spam and delivered to the recipients ‘inbox’.

Influencer Marketing – Paid promotion of products and services on popular online personalities social media outlets. An example would be a sponsored blog post, promoted tweet, or promoted Instagram post. Much of the time these posts are not identified as advertisements making it look like the influencer is interested in the product without the users actually knowing if that is true.

Interstitial – An advertisement that is shown to the user when clicking a link. This type of advertising interrupts the user’s browser experience by showing itself on the path to a destination, usually requiring the user to intervene to get there by clicking a button.

Keyword Analysis – The process of finding which keywords are the most valuable to a marketing campaign. Also known as “Keyword Research”.

Keyword Tracking – The process of tying keyword data from marketing campaigns to business goals and objectives or the process of tracking the ranking position of keywords in search engine results pages.

Lead Buyers – A business or individual that purchases qualified leads for set price. 

Lead Form – A fillable form used to capture lead information. 

Lead Gen – The practice of generating interest in a product or service and facilitating the initial contact between a business and a prospect.

Lead Verification – The process of determining the quality or potential of a lead. 

Likes – A term describing an action taken by a user on the Facebook platform, publicly acknowledging that they ‘like’ a product, brand, post, or other type of content.

Link – A clickable form of text displayed on a website that takes users to another place or piece of content.

Link Building – Getting external sites and users to link to your content driving traffic and generating revenue.

Link Spam – Automated posting of links on comment forms, forums, or other publicly available places where users can post without restriction. Link spam is typically used for pump and dump search engine traffic — it may last a little while, but eventually the search engines will ‘slap’ (penalize) the website where the link spam points. This is not a good way to build a brand or a long term campaign.

Link Tokens – Variables setup in the link structure to allow servers to store data about that specific user. Sometimes the variables contain static information, and sometimes the information is dynamic. The technical term for link tokens is ‘GET Variables’ and any information after a question mark in the URL structure is referred to as the ‘Query String’.

Link – A clickable URL. 

Long Tail Keywords – Keywords used in search advertising that are typically more than 2 words and more rarely searched by users. There are no rules for what is considered a long tail in terms of actual length of the keyword or phrase. Typically longer tail keywords result in less traffic, but higher ROI due to being more specific to the users immediate needs.

LP – Landing Page – The final destination website or web page a user reaches immediately after clicking an advertisement and routing through any tracking links.

LPO – Landing Page Optimization – Landing page optimization is the process where marketers change and test portions of their landing page, or entire landing pages in controlled settings to determine what users react to the most, or which settings generate the highest conversion rate. The way a page looks and functions can have a massive impact on a user’s interaction rate.

Media Buy – Purchasing ad inventory such as Search Ads, Display Ads, Social Ads, etc.

Network Manager – The person responsible for managing the team of affiliate managers and advertising managers. It is important to find out who this person is and reach out to them when working with an affiliate network. Having access to the network manager gives you the ability to resolve complicated problems, or ask someone with authority to make business development decisions when you have new ideas or need an exception to the rules.

OOH – Out Of Home – Any type of real world marketing. The name comes originally from the billboard advertising industry, but not encompasses any type of advertising that is ‘outside of your house’. This would include things like posters above toilets in a bar, elevator screen advertising, TVs in doctors offices, billboards, electronic billboards, stadium advertising, and more.

Open Rate – The number of opens vs the number of emails sent. To calculate the open rate, you take the number of opens and divide it by the number of emails sent. For instance, if we sent 1000 emails and 50 people opened the messages, the open rate is 5%. To calculate this we take 50 / 1000 which gives us .05. Multiplying by 100 gives us the whole number percentage: .05 * 100 = 5%.

Opens – The number of opens for a group of delivered emails, or a ‘drop’ of emails. Typically email campaigns are measured by sending a set amount of emails and reviewing the overall open rate to see if the campaign should be sent to an entire list.

Opt-in – When a user agrees to accept marketing messages from a brand, company, product or other source.

Optimize Media Spend (Optimize Campaigns) – The process of improving a marketing campaign and lowering costs based on previously gathered data. 

Page Views – The number of times a landing page or website is viewed by users.

Parked Domain – A domain that is pointed at an advertising service specifically designed to generate clicks and revenue for the owner of the domain name.

Performance Marketing – A type of marketing where advertisers are paid when a specific action is completed; such as a click, lead, call or sale.

Pop Under – A browser window or new tab opened to show the user an advertisement below the current browser or tab as to not disturb their browsing experience.

Pop Up – A browser window or new tab opened to show the user an advertisement above the current browser. This form of advertisement is specifically designed to interrupt the users browsing experience.

Postback – Postback Pixel – A postback pixel is a URL where data is passed back to a 3rd party server using cURL, secure cURL, an HTTP Post, or some other type of automated server-to-server communication method. Postback pixels allow for accurate tracking and reconciliation of stats. This type of tracking happens on the back-end of systems so it cannot be tampered with by users and is considered the most accurate and secure way of tracking conversion data.

PPC – Pay Per Click (Or Pay Per Call) – Buying advertising from someone and only paying for every user that clicks through to your website or landing page.

PPI – Pay Per Install – This is a billing model where the buyer of the traffic only pays on a successful installation of a software product, browser extension, or mobile application.

PPV – Pay Per View – Another term for pop-up or pop-under advertisements generated by browser extensions or toolbars. Typically these types of pops have a predetermined resolution and sometimes a fixed browser type that is part of the software. It is always good to find out this information so you can design your advertisements to fit the specifications of the browser.

Publisher – The party that provides the advertising services, calls, or traffic to a campaign.

Push Notifications – A type of a message that pops up on a mobile device

Registration Path – The path a user follows through a conversion funnel to capture their registration data.

Reporting – The section of cloud based marketing software where the user and review statistics and actions taken by users. This is by far the most important and powerful part of any cloud based marketing platform when used correct.

Retargeting – Using a cookie or session data on an individual user to show them specific advertisements again in the future.

RTB – Real Time Bidding – An advertising exchange model where parties interested in advertising space bid for a chance to have their ad shown. The parties are required to bid in a maximum amount of time, usually 300 milliseconds or less, to be included in the auction for that specific impression. Parties not able to bid in time do not get a chance to buy that impression.

Search Feed – An XML feed of search results generated through a partnership. These feeds allow small businesses and companies to use major search engines to provide content or results to their websites, create their own search engines, or include search data and ads into their applications. Most search feeds also include advertisements that are relevant to the searches just like a typical experience on a search engine like Google.

SEM – Search Engine Marketing – A type of paid marketing that uses search engine advertising platforms like Google, Bing or Yahoo. 

SEO – Search Engine Optimization – Designing and optimizing a website specifically for the purpose of showing up in search engine results for specific keywords.

Segmentation – Splitting users into different groups representing some type of feature that links them together. An example would be a segment of users that enjoys watching horror movies or a group of people who say they are all under 40 years old.

Social (Social Media) – Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.

Street Payout – “Street” – The public or standard payout price for an affiliate network’s campaign. This is never the price you should accept. Ever.

Subject – The summary of an email that the user sees first. This text is extremely important as it can affect the entire email campaign, driving high or low open rates.

Suppression List – A list of users that should not be emailed advertisements for a specific campaign. These users have unsubscribed from an advertisement, or are known to complain about receiving advertisements.

Tracking Link – A link that records information about the user that redirects to an advertisement of some kind. This link allows marketers to track the number of clicks, the source of their clicks, and if combined with conversion tracking the results of those clicks and the actions the users take

Traffic Sources – A traffic source is a place where marketers can purchase advertising inventory of various types. Google Ads and Facebook are examples of large and popular traffic sources.

User Session – When a user comes to your website, this is considered a sessions.

Viral Marketing – Marketing that is done by creating content that people share with their friends. Once this type of marketing hits critical mass, it self propels without requiring any further ad-spend.

Website Bounce Rate – When users come to a website and immediately hit back, close the browser or leave without interacting with the site it is considered a bounce. Depending on traffic source, the bounce rate of your landing pages and websites can be well into the double digit percentages. To calculate the bounce rate, take the number of people that ‘bounced’ and divide by the overall number of users for a specific period of time. For instance if we had 1,000 visitors on a website today, and 350 of them ‘bounced’, we take 350 / 1,000 which equals .35. To get the whole number percentage bounce rate, we multiple .35 * 100 for 35% bounce rate.

Whitehat – Marketing and promotional methods that follow every brand guideline and are specifically designed not to disrupt a users experience in any way.