This is the biggest online and offline industry, bringing in more than one billion dollars in sales of products and providing great incomes to thousands of people in this field over the last few years. With the size of this industry surpassing all others, there are more and more people wishing to enter this industry to make their own fortunes. And as the numbers increase, so does the confusion.

Network marketing, multilevel marketing, multilevel selling, MLM, internet marketing, affiliate marketing… what exactly are these terms and what do they stand for? Do they mean different things or are the definitions of these terms the same? Where did all of these terms come from and why can’t they be replaced by one simple one that can help us understand this industry?

These are a few questions asked by newcomers to this industry, who have a hard time figuring out the concept of network marketing without the added pain of having to learn all the different terms bandied about in this type of marketing that actually mean the same thing. The question is: Do they?

The gurus tend to use different terms in different contexts. They believe that the overall term used for this industry is network marketing, because it involves the excessive use of networking and building of social relationships to create potential sales situations. Within the realm of this type of marketing is multi-level marketing and affiliate marketing.

Multi-level marketing is one of the forms of this type of marketing that involves two or more tiers from the parent company to the consumer. It involves distribution in two or more layers, where the distributor makes an income from both layers: direct consumers as well as other distributors. Since most marketers in this industry form two tiers, network marketing is synonymously used with multilevel marketing or multi-level selling.

Geographical factors also account for the different terms used in this industry. While most upline leaders in most parts of the world prefer the term network marketing, most of those in the United States prefer the term multilevel marketing!

To avoid massive confusion on the part of newbies to the MLM industry, a lot of networking gurus prefer to stick to the two terms: multilevel marketing and network marketing. However, getting a unified name for this industry is prohibited by many factors, the key ones of which involve search engines.

The biggest search engine is Google, which utilizes both terms as well as their offshoots as major revenue-generating keywords. Any keyword tool you use for this industry will pop out a list of keywords that range from the basic ones: network marketing and multilevel marketing to the relatively obscure ones such as mlm systems and down line mlm network marketing which also generate a lot of money.

A good industry marketer thus tries to cover all bases and uses each of these terms within his advertising and socializing websites and blogs to attract more traffic. This is why you can go to any network marketing forum and you’ll be told that this is one of the main reasons as to why plenty of terms are used for this industry and why these terms cannot be merged to form one term for one industry.