Commission Junction Newsletter to Affiliates- Preparing for the 4th Quarter

1:09 pm   -   September 28th, 2006

Preparing for Q4 – The Holiday Quarter

Once Q4 hits it will be a continuous whirlwind of holidays, shopping and festivities. Before the madness begins, you will want to be sure that you are fully prepared to make the most of Q4 – the holiday quarter. Q4 is based largely around gift giving holidays and celebratory feasts, and is the biggest retail quarter of the year. Jupiter Research reported that online retail sales totaled $81 billion in 2005 and it is predicted that sales in 2006 will top $100 billion. It was also reported that more than half of all U.S. consumers made an online purchase in 2005. The message is clear: if you want to maximize holiday online spend, being prepared before and during Q4 is a must. So get your calendars out and mark them for each month on what holiday you need to focus on, and read below for our tips for making the most of Q4.

A Ghoulish October
Get ready to hit the ground running in October as all the ghosts, goblins and fairy princesses suit up for Halloween – the sixth-largest spend holiday. Total consumer spend reached $3.29 billion in 2005, according to the National Retail Federation with candy being the number one spend item, followed by costumes, $1.15 billion, and decorations, $840 million. Hot items for this month are candy, costumes, make-up, accessories, decorations and novelty products.

October is the best time during Q4 to solidify your holiday promotional plan. Be sure to:
Run reports to find out which advertisers you want to focus on
Contact your advertisers to acquire optimal payouts and learn about special performance incentives they may offer.
Look at to the option of negotiating paid placements
Keep in mind that as October progresses you and your advertisers will get busier and busier, so be sure to lay the groundwork for Q4 as early as possible.

A Feast Filled November
Restaurant, food and entertainment items are hot during November. Whether consumers are shopping for gifts for their Thanksgiving dinner hosts, or getting a head start on holiday presents, food, wine, cigar or chocolate of the month clubs are always a win. While “Black Friday” is the one of the busiest offline shopping days of the year, “Black Monday”, the Monday following Thanksgiving, is one of the busiest online shopping days of the year on which savvy consumers avoid the crowds and enjoy the convenience of shopping from home. Black Monday begins the heavy retail shopping rush and electronics, apparel, kids’ items, and any other consumer goods sell like hot cakes.

Throughout November be sure to:
Regularly check your advertisers’ promotional calendars to make sure you are on schedule with all promotions
Review your advertisers’ newsletters thoroughly for new promotions and creative
Save time and effort by using product catalogs and if available review advertiser’s “top performing product” lists to stay up to speed on the hottest selling items
By mid November you should have your holiday promotional schedule solidified because once Black Monday hits you’ll be busy maintaining creative accordingly.

A Jolly Ol’ December
According to Media Metrix, the first three weeks of December are the heaviest online shopping weeks of Q4. With retail shopping in full force after Black Monday, December 1 through December 22 mark the notorious consumers rush to get last minute holiday items checked off their lists. According to MSN shopping, hot holiday items for 2006 will include jewelry, computers, televisions, home furnishings, housewares, men’s and women’s clothing, accessories, and electronics such as digital media players, playstations, and digital cameras – do you have these on your list?

December will be a flurry of shopping so stay abreast of your advertisers’ promotions as many will change on a daily or weekly basis. The second and third weeks of December are notorious for last minute deals and discounts, as well as free or discounted shipping offers for last minute shoppers. Keep an eye out for these promotions and display them prominently on your pages. After the holidays focus on after holiday sales and clearance promotions which typically start the day after Christmas and last through New Year’s day. Many advertisers will run contests and incentives for publisher performance in Q1 2007 – take advantage of these opportunities as they are usually the biggest contests or incentives of the year!

Maximizing Online Holiday Spend
Now that we’ve taken a look at the breakdown of each month during this busy holiday quarter, lets highlight the “how tos” of achieving a prosperous Q4!
Dedicate a Resource – Day to day management of your program is key to your program’s success. Ensure you have a dedicated resource who can manage advertiser communications, links, content and maintenance of your program during this hectic quarter.

Communicate – As an extension of your advertiser’s online sales force it is important to maintain open communication with your advertisers, let them know what you need to promote their program effectively. If it is more open keyword use, new graphics or options for ads – you need to ask for what you need.

Keep the Consumer in Mind – Consumers choose to shop online for a variety of reasons during the holiday season:
To find in-store deals and discounts
Get free shipping
Receive online ONLY deals and discounts
To find popular products that are sold out in stores or not available in their area
To avoid lines, crowds and general shopping mayhem
To comparison shop
Because they need to ship their gifts for receipt in a timely manner

Take these needs into consideration to ensure what you are promoting is what consumers are looking for.

Be Open to Paid Placements – Be willing to offer pay for placement for an increase in commission or flat payment. Many advertisers have a budget for this type of promotional activity and are ready and wiling to pay you for extra site visibility.

Utilize Product Catalogs – A large number of advertisers provide a product catalog. You can view items one by one in your CJ Account Managerâ„¢ or receive the entire catalog via e-mail, FTP or CJFTP. If you do not have the capability already, prepare yourself to be able to use product catalogs to display popular items for the season using the “Contact Us” feature in your CJ Account Manager. Providing product images or links gives shoppers a good idea of what they could buy and may even increase the chance of positive conversion on click though. Many advertisers supply a list of top performing products to take the guess work out of using product catalogs.

Run Reports – Run performance reports in your CJ Account Manager to find out which advertisers are popular with your shoppers, and who performed well in Q4 of 2005. Focus on these advertisers, and make note of any new advertisers in these categories that you may be missing out on! If you think you can offer an increase in sales this year negotiate a special commission rate or performance incentive with the advertiser.

Check Promotional Calendars – Many advertisers share their promotional calendars with publishers to help them maintain promotions throughout the holiday season. Check the calendars regularly to stay up to date with promotions. Advertisers usually share their promotional calendars in their newsletters, however If certain advertisers have not made their promotional calendars available to you, ask!

Review Newsletters – If advertisers send out monthly or quarterly newsletters make sure to read them to find out about special holiday promotions, links, contests or incentives.

Review the Weekly What’s Hot ( and discover six of each week’s hottest advertiser promotions. These promotions are hand selected weekly to provide you with easy access to the best deals available. Note that featured promotions are time sensitive.

Last Minute Deals – You may think that the last days before Christmas are too late for people to shop, but many advertisers offer free or discounted overnight shipping for gifts to arrive on Christmas Eve. Display these offers prominently on your pages so shoppers are aware and can take advantage of these offers.

Prepare for Q1 2007 – It’s never too early to start preparing for Q1, 2007! As things lock down for Q4, start preparing for Q1. There are endless amounts of sales and product discounts available as soon as the major holidays are over. Also, non-retail focused advertisers often offer contests and incentives for publisher performance in January and February 2007 – keep an eye out for these opportunities!

The ghosts and ghouls of October are nearly upon us so make sure your Q4 preparations are underway. As you progress from the tricks and treats of October, to the ‘feastivities’ of November, to the dreidels and caroling of December, make sure you are maintaining an open communication with your advertisers, keeping a close watch on your promotions schedule, and utilizing the tools provided in your CJ Account Manager to ensure a successful Q4 for all – and for all a prosperous New year!