It may seem that providing tips to prepare for January’s travel peak in late December is like shutting the barn door after the proverbial horse has bolted, but there is genuine value in highlighting the key things to consider at this point of the year. January brings with it a vast spike in traffic (this year we saw on average over a 40% uplift on clicks for our travel advertisers in January compared to the previous month) with would-be customers intent on planning their holidays for 2014. So here are five must-do tips to help you take full advantage of this lucrative time of year (and beyond).
The relationship between publishers and advertisers is a symbiotic one. By that I mean that it’s one of mutual benefit and in travel, the January peak really emphasises that relationship. The better prepared you are, both as an advertiser or a publisher, the more successful that relationship becomes. Advertiser programmes that can ensure their plans for Q1 are well in hand before the start of January, will afford their affiliates time to put together and execute their own plans for the period. Publishers can appreciate the time-sensitive nature of sale launches so non-disclosure agreements are a good way of making sure information about specific promotions can be shared and optimised without giving away trade secrets.
Communication is key to any affiliate relationship – if the channels between advertisers and their publishers are open and responsive, the relationship will thrive. It’s easy to get caught up in the manic nature of the January build-up so those that communicate their Q1 offers and deals ahead of time will be more likely to get exposure. Publishers should follow suit too; communicate opportunities at the earliest possible stage, allowing advertisers time to allocate budget for key promotional slots. Whether an updated media pack for the New Year or specific promotional opportunities, sharing your marketing collateral with as many prospects as possible will help keep your proposition in mind once budget becomes available.
‘Big Data’ has been a phrase on the lips of many digital marketers this year and the January peak will be both a great testing ground for utilising the copious amounts of information available, as well as an opportunity to learn even more about consumer trends and behaviour. Having spoken with many travel affiliates in the run-up to Christmas, one of the common themes has been a desire to tap into the information many of the top advertisers are recording now and using it to optimise their sites (for example by looking at hotel stay dates, destinations, packages purchased etc.). Advertisers that can share their data or the insights they’ve gained from this key trading period will be rewarded when publishers become better placed to understand their own traffic and how to make it convert more effectively.
Be Open Minded
Flexibility of payment models at this time of year can work wonders for incentivising your publishers and helping you gain market share. By being open minded, you may try new technologies, new partners and a variation from CPA will open up some intriguing opportunities. If you have the budget available to look beyond CPA, you may consider tenancy options, display or even paid editorial placements. Those of you who love the security and risk aversion offered by CPA can still incentivise publishers by implementing target-based competitions with commission increases or perhaps even a travel-related reward as a prize (free stay in a luxury hotel anyone?).
Target Specific Niches
Whilst not specific to the January boom, it is worth raising awareness of Google’s big 2013 update; the Hummingbird. We may be sick of Penguins, Pandas and now Hummingbirds, but this one is genuinely interesting. The update is Google’s attempt to understand the intent behind a user’s search query by focusing on the conversational nature of searches. Search results now focus on the whole search query rather than just a few relevant keywords, whilst the importance of long-tail, specific terms has been emphasised. We can expect pages that produce unique, engaging content that can match highly specific, niche searches will benefit greatly. If you can produce a well written page on luxury chateau holidays for families in the Dordogne, the chances are you’ll rank well for it. My advice to you therefore, is to start producing focused, rich content and the advertisers will be queuing up to work with you in no time at all.
Seasons Greetings and Good luck for the New Year!