Misunderstood Affiliate Marketing Terms

Haris Musa
5 min readAug 29, 2021

As with any specialized field, affiliate marketing is comprised of many important, industry-specific terms. Knowing the correct way to use your vocabulary can be crucial to your success. However, it’s not uncommon for professionals to misunderstand a few key phrases.

Fortunately, a little bit of research can help. By familiarizing yourself with some of the most common definition mistakes, you can feel confident about your word usage.

In this article, we’ll cover why it’s essential to understand affiliate marketing language fully. Then, we’ll take you through three terms that are frequently misused and discuss their true meanings. Let’s dive in!

The Importance of Understanding Affiliate Marketing Terms

Let’s face it: affiliate marketing comes with a lot of new vocabulary. If you’re just starting in the field, it might be hard to figure out the exact definitions of unfamiliar words and phrases. While it’s not unusual to get mixed up, learning the proper affiliate marketing terms is critical.

First, shared language can help you establish common ground with others in the industry. Knowing the words your fellow marketers use enables you to communicate more effectively. In addition to avoiding misunderstandings, it can also help you position yourself as an informed and knowledgeable affiliate.

This reputational element is also essential for gaining more partnerships. By using affiliate-specific terms correctly, you demonstrate a certain level of professionalism. It’s a simple way to convey expertise and authority. This can be an asset if you’re trying to build brand visibility.

Finally, developing a broad vocabulary is an investment in your future. As technology and trends evolve, you can reasonably expect new words to be sourced from old ones. Therefore, having a firm grasp on today’s affiliate marketing terms can prepare you to adapt and become a top sales performer.

3 Misunderstood Terms in Affiliate Marketing You Need to Know

Your vocabulary can impact your success, so it’s wise to double-check that you’re using the following terms correctly. Below are three of the most commonly misunderstood terms in affiliate marketing.

1. Affiliate Channel

Many professionals often use the term “affiliate channel”. Often, it’s used as a synonym for “affiliate marketing”. As such, you may see it used to refer to the field as a whole:

However, this phrase isn’t exactly correct in the above context. Affiliate marketing is defined as the wide industry of sponsored advertising. By contrast, an affiliate channel refers to a single partnership within that industry.

Let’s use the article above as an example. You could define your “affiliate channel strategy” as how you approach an individual partner. You probably change your marketing tactics based on what you’re promoting. Therefore, it’s not the same as your overall affiliate marketing strategy.

Affiliate marketing is a diverse field with multiple channels to explore. Having more than one partner is an excellent way to diversify your portfolio. As such, it’s important to understand that you aren’t limited to just one affiliate partnership.

2. Link Cloaking

A healthy dose of caution can be quite valuable on the internet. Being wary of unknown offers or techniques might help you avoid dishonest actors. However, too much caution can lead to missed opportunities.

An often maligned term in affiliate marketing is “link cloaking”. This may be because the word “cloaking” puts many people on edge, as it implies covering something up. As a result, there seems to be confusion surrounding the technology’s true use.

However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Link cloaking is a simple and effective affiliate marketing technique that doesn’t mislead your partners or scam your users. On the contrary, it simply rebrands your links to make them more attractive to your unique audience. For example, you may have an affiliate link that looks like the following:


However, through link cloaking you could make it like this:


Some affiliate programs, such as Amazon Associates, prohibit link cloaking. However, this doesn’t make the practice shady. It’s simply a matter of organizational preferences. As long as you uncloak your Amazon affiliate links, there’s no reason to discard the strategy entirely.

This term is especially important to understand as it can affect your bottom line. Link cloaking is a legitimate and powerful tool for affiliate marketers. If you buy into the wrong definition, you could miss out on a valuable opportunity to boost your commissions.

3. Swipe Copy

Marketing is usually a collaborative effort. Your partners trust you to promote their brands, and they probably want to help you do so. As such, it’s not unusual for affiliates to receive “swipe copy”. However, if you believe the common understanding of this term, you might not be too keen on the concept:

Many marketers dislike the idea of swipe copy because it seems to undermine the personal appeal of affiliate marketing. In reality, companies are usually aware that affiliate personalities are assets, so they’re typically reluctant to limit it.

That’s why you have nothing to fear from this phrase. Swipe copy refers to a collection of resources and examples to assist affiliates in crafting their own marketing. It exists to help your promotions harmonize with organizations’ other advertisements. For example, you can reference previous campaigns and adjust your approach as you see fit.

Swipe copy is not meant to be a clone, and very few programs will require any copy and pasting at all. This resource exists to help you advertise effectively — not eliminate your voice. As such, we recommend that you keep an open mind and work proactively with your affiliate partners.


If you’re an affiliate marketer, you rely on language to promote your partners’ products. By understanding some key affiliate marketing terms, you can ensure that you’re communicating clearly and correctly with both brands and customers.

In this article, we covered three of the most commonly misunderstood phrases in the field:

  1. Affiliate channel, which actually means a single affiliate partnership.
  2. Link cloaking, which refers to a sound sales strategy that you can use to make unsightly URLs more appealing and trustworthy.
  3. Swipe copy, which is less of a script and more of a resource for inspiration.

What affiliate terms do you think get misused most often? Let us know in the comments section below!