Top 30 Affiliate Marketing Acronyms and Abbreviations

Affiliate marketing abbreviationsBe it EPC, CPA, CJ, PMA, or anything else, you want to be comfortable using the most popular affiliate marketing abbreviations if you’re involved in affiliate marketing in any capacity.

I’ve put together the following list to make life slightly easier for everyone, but especially those who are fairly new to affiliate marketing.

AM – Affiliate Manager – Person in charge of the management (and sometimes organization) of a company’s affiliate program.

AOV – Average Order Value – A metric which reflects the average value of a purchase. Calculated by dividing the total value of orders within a given period of time by the number of orders.

AWAffiliate Window – UK’s first, and largest affiliate network owned by Digital Window Ltd.

BHO – Browser Helper Object – A DLL (see below) that allows its developers to customize and control the end-user’s Internet Explorer. BHOs have access to all events and properties of each browsing session. Parasitic affiliate behavior is often closely associated with BHOs.

CAC – Customer Acquisition Cost – The cost associated with convincing a website visitor to become a customer for your product/service.

CJCommission Junction Affiliate Network – One of the major affiliate networks nowadays. Has presence in the US, UK, Germany, France and Sweden.

CPA – Cost Per Action – Also sometimes de-abbreviated as Cost Per Acquisition, this is a payment model where an advertiser pays for each qualifying action made by the end-user in response to an Ad. Such qualifying actions normally fall into one of two categories: (i) sales/orders, or (ii) completions of registration or other website forms, confirming the end-user’s interest in the advertiser’s product/service.

CPM – Cost Per Thousand – Cost per mil or one thousand impressions (or showings). May imply anything from the amount charged per 1000 banner impressions to a copy of a newsletter sent to 1000 subscribers.

CR – Conversion Rate/Ratio – The percentage of visitors that take the desired action (purchase, subscription, form completion, etc).

CTR – Click-Through Rate/Ratio – A metrics used to measure response to advertising. CTR reflects the percentage of website visitors that click on a particular link. This percentage is obviously calculated based on the average number of click-throughs per 100 ad impressions.

DLL – Dynamic-Link Library – Defined by Microsoft as “an executable file that allows programs to share code and other resources necessary to perform particular tasks”.

EPC – Earnings Per Click – Average affiliate program’s payout, generally calculated based on one hundred clicks. This metric is one of the key ones used by affiliates to determine how attractive and promising an affiliate program is. To calculate their EPC, affiliates divide the total number of clicks by their total earnings. Such simple calculation gives them their earnings per click. [see also this article]

GANGoogle Affiliate Network – Along with LinkShare and Commission Junction, one of the major American affiliate networks. Formerly: DoubleClick Performics. Rebranded into GAN soon after Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick in 2007-2008.

LSLinkshare Affiliate Network – Another one of the leading affiliate networks out there.

LTV – Lifetime Value – A marketing metric which aims to reflect the total amount a customer may spend with a company during the lifetime of the former. Sometimes also abbreviated as CLV (customer lifetime value) or LCV (lifetime customer value)

MLM – Multi-Level Marketing – A pyramid sales system within which salespeople not only receive commission on their own sales, but also smaller commission on the sales of the people they convince to become sellers. Such multi-tier programs have nothing to do with affiliate marketing.

O(A)PM – Outsourced (Affiliate) Program Manager – Affiliate manager that performs program management outside the company’s premises, or on outsourced basis. The less frequently used abbreviations include OAM and APM. Most frequently abbreviated as OPM.

PMAPerformance Marketing Association – Non-for-profit organization established “to connect, inform and advocate on behalf of this growing industry”.

PPA – Pay Per Action – Another way to refer to a CPA model (see above).

PPC – Pay Per Click – An Internet marketing model in which website owners pay only for targeted clicks. When search engines’ PPC campaigns are concerned, you pay only for clicks coming from searchers looking for the keywords that you bid on. The main provider of such model is Google (with its Google Adwords) but other search engines (Yahoo! and Bing) as well as Facebook are also in the game. In Britain there’s also Espotting.

PPCall – Pay Per Call – A marketing payment model where remuneration is due only when qualifying calls are received by the advertiser.

PPL – Pay Per Lead – An Internet marketing model in which payment is due only when qualifying leads are received by the advertiser. Alternative abbreviation: CPL (Cost Per Lead).

PPS – Pay Per Sale – An Internet marketing model in which payment is due only when qualifying sales are received by the advertiser/merchant. Alternative abbreviation: CPS (Cost Per Sale).

PPV – Pay Per View – One of the newer techniques where the advertiser pays every time their website is viewed by a visitor. Often uses pop-up windows, generated by adware installed on the end-user computer. At the time of this post, none of the mainstream affiliate networks (read: not sub-affiliate or so-called CPA networks) allow linking form PPV traffic. Alternative abbreviation: CPV (Cost Per View).

SASShareasale Affiliate Network – One of the leading present-day affiliate networks. Known for its stance against parasites, its strive for transparency, and strong affiliate support.

SE – Search Engine – A program developed to search for documents by keywords and key phrases. Each request returns a list of the documents where the requested keyword or key phrase is found. Examples:,

SID – Shopper ID – A parameter that affiliates may add to their tracking URLs to be able to monitor which links produced which sales and/or leads. SID affiliate tracking was originally invented by Commission Junction, but it is now also offered by every major affiliate network, as well as by some providers of in-house software. The acronym is also sometimes spelled out as a session ID. I believe the time has come to broaden its meaning into a unified Sub ID which would include CJ’s sid, DirectTrack’s dp, LinkShare’s u1, MyAffiliateProgram’s sub, GAN’s mid, ShareASale’s afftrack, and other link parameters carrying out the same function.

TOS – Terms Of Service – Rules and regulations that one must agree to and follow in order to use a service. In the context of affiliate marketing, the TOS acronym is frequently used to designate either an affiliate program’s agreement with affiliates, or an affiliate network’s service agreement.

URL – Uniform Resource Locator – The global address of an Internet resource on the World Wide Web (e.g.:

UV – Unique Visitor – A term frequently used in tracking website’s traffic, and designating a person that visits a website more than once within a specified period of time. Traffic tracking software normally distinguishes between visitors that only visit the website once, and UVs that return to the site. Unique visitors are different from hits or page views, both of which reflect the number of documents requested from the website. UVs are often determined by the number of unique IP addresses that the site visits come from.

If I have missed an abbreviation that you believe should have been listed (or you simply want me to clarify for you), please post it in the “Comments” below, and I’ll add it to the above list.

3 thoughts on “Top 30 Affiliate Marketing Acronyms and Abbreviations”

  1. Thank you for taking the time to post these easy to read explanations of the Affiliate Abbreviations. In my job as small business mentor I often come across the difficulties that new business owners have when faced with trade jargon. It’s so easy to slip into it when you’re an old hand. Your post will no doubt be a big help to a lot of people.

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