Glossary of Affiliate Marketing Terms: 40 Common Abbreviations

Whether you are at an affiliate marketing conference, or talking with a prospective affiliate or affiliate managers, it isn’t unusual to hear them operate in/with such terms as “TOS”, “EPC”, “SID” or “AOV.” From generic ones (like the aforementioned four) to more specific ones (like those designating specific affiliate networks, for example), affiliate marketers often use acronyms and abbreviations. However, they aren’t too plentiful, and many of them come from related fields (like search engine marketing, or general business terms) — so, they aren’t going to be too difficult to remember.

Below you may find a list of 40 most frequently used abbreviations and acronyms which will help you understand the “lingo” that affiliate marketers commonly use. Enjoy the list, and should you have something to add to it, please do so (by using the “Comments” area under this post).

Affiliate Marketing Terms & Abbreviations

Ad: advertisement

May be in the form of text, banner, Flash, video, or any other method that is displayed on the Internet.

AM: affiliate manager

Person in charge of the management (and sometimes organization) of a company’s affiliate program. Sometimes also used to designate “affiliate management” or even broader “affiliate marketing.”

AOV: average order value

A metric that 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.

AW: Affiliate Window

The United Kingdom’s first and largest affiliate network, owned by Digital Window Ltd.

B2B: business to business

A way of exchanging products or services or a transaction that takes place between businesses, rather than between a business and a consumer.

B2C: business to consumer

A way of exchanging products or services or a transaction that takes place between a business and a consumer, rather than between one business and another.

BHO: browser helper object

A DLL 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.

Bot: robot

A software application that crawls the Internet with the purpose of indexing websites and web pages.

CAC: customer acquisition cost

The cost associated with convincing a website visitor to become a customer for your product/service.

CJ: Commission Junction Affiliate Network

One of the major affiliate networks. The company has a presence in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Sweden. See

CPA: cost per action

Also sometimes spelled out as cost per acquisition, 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 these categories: sales, completions of registration or other website forms, and confirming the end user’s interest in the advertiser’s product/service. When used in phrase “CPA network” generally implies a sub-affiliate network.

CPC: cost per click

A payment model where an advertiser pays for each click on an online ad.

CPL: cost per lead

A payment model where an advertiser pays for each new qualifying lead. Here are some examples of leads: email addresses, completed surveys, and various online forms. This payment model is normally tied to the completeness and verification of the leads.

CPM: cost per thousand

Cost per mille (or 1,000) impressions (or showings). This may imply anything from the amount charged per 1,000 banner impressions to a copy of a newsletter sent to 1,000 subscribers.

CPO: cost per order

A payment model where an advertiser pays for each new qualifying order.

CPS: cost per sale

Total advertising expense divided by the total number of sales received as a result of such investment. The result of mathematical operation helps merchants determine the cost that has to be incurred to make each sale possible.

CR: conversion rate or conversion ratio

The percentage of visitors who take the desired action (purchase, subscription, form completion, and so on).

CTR: click-through rate or click-through ratio

A metrics used to measure response to advertising. CTR reflects the percentage of website visitors who click a particular link. This percentage is calculated based on the average number of click-throughs per 100 ad impressions.

EPC: earnings per click

An important metric used for reporting merchant or affiliate performance. Although the abbreviation stands for earnings per click, this is often misleading. In reality, EPC numbers more frequently reflect EPHC, or earnings per 100 clicks sent by affiliates to the merchant’s website. The formula for calculating EPC is EPC = Profit ÷ Clicks × 100.

EPM: earning per thousand

Earnings per mil (or 1,000) link impressions.

GAN: Google Affiliate Network

One of the major North American affiliate networks, formerly DoubleClick Performics. Rebranded to GAN soon after Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick in 2007–2008. See

LP: landing page

The webpage on which affiliate-referred traffic lands.

LS: Rakuten Linkshare Affiliate Network

One of the leading affiliate networks. See

LTV: lifetime value

A marketing metric that aims to reflect the total amount a customer may spend with a company during their lifetime. Sometimes also abbreviated as customer lifetime value (CLV) or lifetime customer value (LCV).

OPM: outsourced program manager

Affiliate manager who performs program management outside the company’s premises or on an outsourced basis. The less frequently used abbreviations include OAM and APM. Most frequently abbreviated as OPM.


A Commission Junction affiliate’s unique ID number assigned to every website an affiliate lists in their profile.

PMA: Performance Marketing Association

Non-for-profit organization established “to connect, inform and advocate on behalf of this growing industry.” You can learn more at

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.

PPS: pay per sale

An Internet marketing model in which payment is due only when qualifying sales are received by the advertiser/merchant.

PPV: pay per view

Also sometimes abbreviated as “CPV” (for “cost per view”), this advertising model presupposes the advertiser paying every time their website is viewed by a visitor. Due a frequent use of pop-up windows, generated by adware installed on the end user computer, most mainstream affiliate networks prohibit affiliate linking from PPV traffic.

ROAS: return on advertising spending

A metric used to measure the revenue generated for every dollar spent on advertising.

ROI: return on investment

Originally a finance term, a measure of a company’s profitability. It is equal to a fiscal year’s income divided by common stock and preferred stock equity, plus long-term debt. In the investment and business analytics world, the ROI measures how effectively the investment is used to generate profit. In ecommerce, the term retains its financial sense, but more often than not, its definition is simplified to the evaluation of the money earned (or lost) against the amount of money invested.

SAS: Shareasale Affiliate Network

One of the leading affiliate networks. Known for its stance against parasites, it strives for transparency, strong affiliate, and merchant support. See

SEM: search engine marketing

Marketing acts associated with researching, submitting, and positioning a website within search engines with the aim of achieving the best website exposure on these search engines. The best exposure may be achieved by improving the website’s search engine ranking, participating in PPC campaigns, or a combination of these and other relative activities (for example, SEO).

SEO: search engine optimization

Acts associated with website altering with an aim of achieving higher website rankings on major search engines.

SERP: search engine results page

The page displayed to the end user after submitting the search query.

SID: shopper ID

A parameter that affiliates can 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 (see, 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 we can safely broaden its meaning to a unified Sub ID, which would include Commission Junction’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.

UBE: unsolicited bulk email

Email messages sent to the recipient as part of a larger group of messages, all of which have essentially identical content and are sent out without the prior recipient’s permission. In short, UBE is email spam. An email message may be classified as spam only if it is both unsolicited and bulk. Not to be accused of UBE, affiliate managers should be careful in the wording of the affiliate recruitment messages they send. Another common abbreviation for it is UCE which stands for “unsolicited commercial email.”

URL: Uniform Resource Locator

The global address of an Internet resource on the World Wide Web (for example,

UV: unique visitor

A term frequently used in tracking a website’s traffic and designating a person who visits a website more than once within a specified period of time. Traffic-tracking software normally distinguishes between visitors who visit the website only once and UVs who 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.

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