Britain’s population of cashback and loyalty publishers are set to play a huge part in the busy Christmas period by driving over a quarter of all sales online.

Delivered by Rakuten Marketing as part of its Black Friday analysis and pre-Christmas build-up, the claim provides an idea of the sheer volume of Brits that are likely to consult with cashback sites before making a purchase this winter.

Affiliates have in recent years been recognised as known drivers of ROI for advertisers over Christmas. Last year, PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and the IAB showed brands gaining £14 billion in sales from the affiliate channel, with the bulk of this thought to be attributed to price comparison, cashback, voucher and loyalty publishers.  

In the lead up to December 2014, Rakuten is predicting cashback sites to represent a key source of revenue for advertisers as they prepare for yet another year-on-year lift in online sales. 

Cashback comes of age

Results from 2013 indicate that cashback publishers will drive the highest conversion rates over Christmas compared to a range of other channels.

Ad retargeting yielded a fifth of conversions (17.%) during Christmas 2013, but couldn’t quite reach cashback’s total of 25.9%. 

There are signs this could be about to change soon, though, as big brands plough funds into retargeting solutions with the aim of tackling their cart abandonment issues. 

Figures from research house Baymard indicate that 70% of consumers choose against completing a purchase despite having items in their basket. As a result, cart abandonment inflicts an estimated loss of £1.9 trillion on retailers across the globe.  

Peak times

As usual, the general demand for goods is likely to peak at specific points, and it will be up to retailers to take advantage of key events in the Christmas sales calendar. 

Cyber Monday, which takes place on the Monday after Thanksgiving, is expected to fuel the biggest peak in sales on December 1. However, there will be plenty of chances for retailers to get ahead of the crowd by announcing deals just before days like Cyber Monday and Black Friday (November 28) have officially begun. 

Rakuten Marketing noticed a huge lift in sales three hours before Cyber Monday last year and will be keeping a close eye on this trend for 2014.

“Marketers need to be making their brand visible on these days, as well as the days following and leading up to them, to be in the game this Christmas,” commented Sumitra Joy, head of analytics at Rakuten Marketing.