By Matt Swan, Client Strategist at Affiliate Window. Read on the Website Magazine website.

With Christmas fast approaching, there are two days that really stand out within the online calendar – Black Friday and Cyber Monday. With Thanksgiving and Chanukah overlapping this year, retailers could certainly be in store for a bumper sales period. With advertisers keen to boost their peak trading periods, there is sure to be no shortage of deals.
Looking at the stats across our network for the past couple of years, here are our predictions for this peak promotional period.

CONSUMERS TO BENEFIT
These two dates have become increasingly important over the past few years. With it widely regarded as the busiest online shopping period in the US, advertisers are keen to ensure they get a slice of the action. As a result, consumers can expect to find some amazing bargains. Whether buying presents for others or taking advantage of the sales by treating themselves, consumers are set to take advantage of the multitude of offers available. With the expected heavy discounting, there is set to be a surge in conversion rates. A wide variety of deals are likely to be available – as well as money-off coupons, there is likely to be a lot of ‘price matching’ initiatives to fend off competitor activity.

ADVERTISERS TO MOVE EARLY FOR A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE
With more and more advertisers jumping on the Black Friday bandwagon, it is increasingly important for advertisers to act quickly. Publishers will have had their plans in place early and advertisers that were quick on the uptake will secure the prime promotional placements. Those with the strongest offers that are most likely to convert will take priority across publishers’ sites/newsletters.

THERE WILL BE OTHER CONTENDERS TO THE THRONE BUT THANKSGIVING WEEKEND WILL REMAIN KING
Each year there are always predictions there will be days that outperform Black Friday/Cyber Monday. With last delivery dates becoming increasingly closer to Christmas, it is reasonable to believe that these peaks will appear later in the month. However, as we saw last year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday will remain the key peaks. With the anticipated heavy discounting across a wide range of advertisers we would expect to see lower average order values (as has been the norm in previous years) although the actual volume of sales will reach record levels.

WILL WE SEE CONSUMERS PURCHASE LATER?
This ties in nicely with the previous point. There are typically two types of consumer in the run up to Christmas. Those that purchase early to take advantage of the deals that Black Friday has to offer and those bargain hunters that wait for a last minute deal. With a number of advertisers bringing forward their post Christmas sales last year, a number of shoppers will be expecting a repeat this year.

While we expect to see Thanksgiving weekend as the most important trading period, we do anticipate a further peak later in the month as the last minute shoppers enter the fray. We did see this to an extent last year with Monday 10th and 17th also seeing an increase in sales volumes, although nowhere near as pronounced as the peak we witnessed over Black Friday/Cyber Monday.

GEARING UP FOR A MOBILE CHRISTMAS
With consumers rapidly turning to mobile devices, we expect to see an increase in the share of sales originating through mobile devices. The past month has seen us reach a quarter of all sales across the network taking place on a mobile device. Black Friday and Cyber Monday saw a strong mobile performance last year so we can expect a repeat this. Consumers showed they were prepared to spend on mobile and with confidence growing, high average order values through mobile devices are anticipated.
With an increasing number of advertisers optimizing their sites for mobile, the share of handset sales is expected to increase on the 6 percent we saw last year.

In summary, its anticipated Black Friday and Cyber Monday will remain the most important shopping days in the run up to Christmas. Additional peaks are expected, but Thanksgiving weekend will continue to be the main event. With mobile commerce increasing rapidly week on week, it’s predicted a considerable share of transactions originating from mobile devices. While the majority will come from tablet devices, sales through handsets are also expected to grow.

Matt Swan is a Client Strategist at global performance marketing network, Affiliate Window. He works with advertisers to offer strategic advice to optimize campaigns. He also contributes to new business pitches and is an active member of the IAB AMC.