Affiliate marketing terms and what they mean

If you're new to affiliate marketing, there are a lot of new terms you might come across that might be confusing, so give those a quick review.

Advertiser (also called the Merchant)

This is the company that produces the product you're promoting.


That's you! An affiliate is the person promoting a product or service in exchange for compensation.

Can also be called:

  • associate
  • ambassador

Affiliate link

This is a special link that allows the Merchant to track when you send their website traffic, and any sales that happen through your marketing efforts

Affiliate manager/Affiliate program manager

Some programs have a designated person who manages their affiliate program, they are called the affiliate manager. They might also be called the ambassador, or something similar. Whatever they are called, their job is to make sure you have the tools you need to promote their program, and that you follow any rules or guidelines their program has.


If a customer returns a product they've purchased through your link, or for some reason falls through, then any commissions you've earned for that sale will be eliminated.

Cloaking links

Cloaking affiliate links is a practical, and user-friendly way to share your affiliate links. I personally use Thirsty Affiliates to cloak my links and make them easy to remember, and make it easy to change a link when I need to.

Sometimes, an affiliate program will update their links and you'll need to change your links, which presents a huge problem if you're not using a link cloaking software like TA. With Thirsty Affiliates, you can just change the link in the plugin, and whoever clicks on your pretty link will be sent to the right place! Way better than updating tens or hundreds of links, or losing money!

  • A link before cloaking might look like this:
  • A link with cloaking might look like this:


Your commission is the money you'll make when someone purchases through your unique affiliate link.


Conversions mean when someone takes an action with your link. In affiliate marketing, the conversion we're going to look at means when someone takes the desired action. (Purchase a product, etc.)

Conversion rate

The conversion rate is a metric used to show the number of times your link has been clicked versus the number of times there have been sales made. This might be displayed as a percentage.

Bottom line: you want a high conversion rate. The higher your conversion, the more sales you're getting. A super-low conversion rate means lots of people are clicking, but very few are buying. Not good!


Anywhere you share affiliate links, you must disclose your link, it's the law. For the detailed technical explanation of this, here's where you can find that info on the FTC website. Go to them for your information, not some two-bit blogger who may be steering you wrong. You don't want to get in trouble with the FTC for not disclosing your links!

Text link

A text link is a link designed to link text to a webpage on the affiliate company's website. This is different from an image link (aka a banner ad) or video ad.

You'll most likely use these in blog posts, emails, and on social media.

Tracking ID

This unique identifier is attached to the links you use to send traffic to the affiliate product you're promoting. It might look something like this:

Also called:

  • Affiliate ID
  • Affiliate tracking ID


TOS is an acronym that stands for Terms of Service - these are the legalese rules and regulations you'll need to agree to and follow when working with an affiliate company.

Complete and Continue