Affiliate Tracking – Glossary of Terms

Affiliate tracking is a jargon heavy topic so Connected Path has compiled this handy guide of the terms most commonly associated with affiliate tracking. 

Heard any other tracking-related terms that you’re unfamiliar with? Get in touch with us by emailing and we’ll add them to the list!

Events and Conversions

Affiliate click – when a user clicks on an affiliate tracking link and is redirected to an advertiser’s website

Affiliate impression – when a piece of affiliate creative is loaded on a publisher’s website or inside a publisher’s App

API – is the acronym for Application Programming Interface, which is a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other. In affiliate tracking it may be used to exchange information between an advertiser’s website or web server with their ad network

Conversion Signal – when a signal is sent from an advertiser to an ad network that a conversion such as a transaction, form-fill or subscription has taken place

Device – the hardware being used to access the internet by the user, such as MacBook Pro, iPhone X or Galaxy 10

Event – an action performed by a user which may trigger an affiliate sale to be tracked, such as clicking an affiliate link or making a purchase. Also referred to as a conversion event.

Operating System – the software used to run applications on the user’s device, such as iOS12 or Windows 10

Tracking Tag – a code snippet, normally JavaScript and/or an Image Pixel, which is placed on the advertiser’s site to record a conversion event

Web Browser – the software application used to access the Internet by the user, such as Chrome or Safari.


Web Tracking 

Ad-Blocker – software used to identify and stop internet advertising from being displayed to users on websites and in Apps. Ad Blockers may also prevent scripts and domains from loading 

Block List – a list of domains, sub-domains and URLs associated with ad tracking that a web security device like an ad-blocker or browser-built setting will use to determine which domains to prevent from accessing cookies, scripts and other data  

Client-Side – operations that are performed by the client (usually an advertiser), which in affiliate tracking is normally software that relies on sending to another program or server over the Internet 

Cookie (first-party) – A HTTP cookie with a domain attribute that matches the domain the user is visiting (shown in the address bar)

Cookie (third-party) – A HTTP cookie with a domain attribute that is different from the one user is visiting (shown in the address bar)

Content Blocking – when an ad-blocker or web browser prevents a website or app from displaying content to a user, such as display ads or advertising videos on a news website. This is sometimes referred to as Element Blocking 

Container Tag – A container tag is a code snippet placed on a web page that removes the need for multiple tracking codes and image tags being placed directly on the site. Instead, one code snippet acts as a container, allowing all other pieces of code to be hosted by a server associated with the container tag

Domain Blocking – when an ad-blocker or web browser prevents a domain from being accessed by a user, normally because the software deems that domain to be related to online advertising or tracking

Element Blocking See ‘Content Blocking’

HTTP – is the underlying protocol used by the World Wide Web and this protocol defines how requests are formatted and transmitted, and what actions Web servers and browsers should take in response to various commands (add something about HTTPS?)

HTTP cookie - A small text file created by a website that is stored in a user's web browser

Image Pixel Tracking – A HTML image tag containing a web URL that is placed on an advertiser’s confirmation page and send’s information about a transaction to an ad platform. A valid image is returned, usually a transparent 1 x1 GIF. Sometimes called an Image Tag.

Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) – functionality built in to the Safari browser to identify, partition and limit the use of and access to cookies

JavaScript – A scripting language commonly used in web pages and web applications. In affiliate tracking it is often used for collecting information from an advertiser’s site, such as transaction information from a confirmation page, or to execute other scripts and image tags

Redirect URL – a webserver function that sends a user from one URL to another. In affiliate tracking the Redirect URL is sometimes called a ‘tracking link’. It is normally provided by an affiliate network to the publisher and when activated, sends a user onto the advertiser’s website

 Server-Side – operations that are performed by the server. In affiliate tracking this usually refers to running applications such as scripts for tracking on the advertiser’s web server, rather than on the advertiser’s web page

Tracking Prevention – functionality and settings in the Firefox browser that restrict the setting and accessing of third-party cookies and known ad tracking domains

User Agent – the signature string of a web browser, containing information such as operating system, version and any plugins running on the browser

Variable – isa value that can change, depending on conditions or on information passed to the program. In tracking variables might be affiliate IDs, transaction values, references and product details

Web-Server – A Web server is responsible for serving the files that form Web pages to users, in response to their requests


Mobile Tracking

Mobile App – a type of application software designed to run on a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet computer

Mobile SDK – an SDK is a set of programming tools to help developers create apps for a specific platform. Mobile SDKs equip app developers so that they can easily build functionality for mobile apps. In affiliate tracking a mobile SDK is normally hosted by the apps of publishers and advertisers to aid tracking and reporting

Universal Link – Universal Links are an iOS method of launching apps from a web link, also known as a web view. Universal Links send users to content inside an App when they click a web link, such as in Google search results