In this edition of Network Trends, we look at data-driven marketing strategies you can leverage in your affiliate program for graduation season and Father’s Day!

This spring, shoppers will be looking to purchase products for dads and grads. Father’s Day lands on June 18 this year, and graduation season is going on right now. Both of these holidays are opportunities for marketers to help shoppers find the right product for fathers and graduates.

In this edition of Network Trends, we gathered data both internally and externally on Father’s Day 2016 and graduation season to identify key consumer shopping behaviors for publishers and advertisers to implement and leverage in their affiliate marketing program.

Top Verticals for Orders and Conversions

In order to identify shopping behavior during Father’s Day and graduation season we examined top-performing verticals from two metrics: the total amount of orders by vertical, and top converting verticals.

First, we take a look at the verticals that amassed the most orders during the critical shopping window for Father’s Day and graduation season. Not surprisingly, Department Stores were far and away the most popular vertical by total orders, blowing out the runner-up vertical, Apparel and Accessories. The conversion rates for these two verticals were 4.52% and 2.74%, respectively. Beauty and Personal Care (6.01%), High-End/Luxury Stores (1.4%), and Footwear (4%) rounded out the top five for most orders by vertical.

However, none of these categories cracked the top five for the top conversions by vertical list. Flowers, which did not make the top verticals for orders list, was the highest-converting vertical during the Dads and Grads shopping period with a 13.22% conversion rate. The second, third, and fourth-highest converting verticals cracked the top ten in most verticals by orders. Financial Services (6th-highest vertical for orders, 12.68%), Health and Wellness (8th-highest vertical for orders, 9.07%), and Education (7th-highest vertical for orders, 7.49%) are all prime targets for publishers and advertisers to promote products and offers from based on the conversion results and the high volume of orders.

Most Popular Products

What do father’s want for Father’s Day, and what should grads be excepting to receive for graduating high school and college?

According to an eMarketer survey from last June, the top two gifts dads want the most are both experience related. 32% of surveyed fathers said they wanted a vacation for Father’s Day, and 31% said they wanted tickets to a sporting event. Both these gifts are something the family can enjoy with the father, or the father can use as a quick afternoon getaway. Advertisers should be looking to push offers that promote these types of experiences, and publishers should be sure to highlight these deals to shoppers.

Graduates should be expecting cash, cards, and gift cards, for the most part, this graduation season. Cash is the gift that most internet users plan on giving to the graduate in their life, according to an eMarketer survey conducted in May 2017. For those who are looking to give more than that, Apparel and Electronics are both popular categories as well. Gift cards and apparel are great news for advertisers and publishers alike, who want to promote special offers that shoppers can get on gift cards, or keep gift-givers informed on what trends would look great on a new grad either for summer vacation, for returning to school in the fall, or for just joining the workforce.

Most Popular Publishing Models and Devices

Shoppers will be leveraging Loyalty/Rewards program publishing models this Dads and Grads season, based on Rakuten Affiliate Network data from 2016. Last year, Loyalty/Rewards publishers had the highest amount of orders and the best conversion rate, at 12.7%. Coupon Malls were also highly popular during this period, with a 7.37% conversion rate, and deal sites garnered a 2.12% conversion rate on shoppers who visited during this time period last year.

These are all great for last-click shoppers, but advertisers should take note that customers will be looking at multiple places to try and find the best deal, as well as visiting content sites to educate themselves on popular products to give to fathers or graduates. For example, because electronics are one of the most popular product categories for graduate shoppers, it might be beneficial to work with content publishers who can break down some of the latest electronics (from wearables and smartphones to tablets and laptops) and educate customers on what the best product is for the best price. This may not be the last place the customer visits when making the purchase, but it will help guide them along in the purchasing process.

Finally, PC had the highest conversion rate during this shopping period last year at 5.92%. Tablets had the second-highest conversion rate at 4.84%, and mobile was third in 2.42%. With these numbers in mind, it’s important to remember that consumers will likely be using multiple devices to help them shop during this season, so plan your placements with your publishers accordingly and publishers, make sure your content is mobile-optimized!