Visa Unveils Online Promotions for the Holiday Season

Transaction and credit card giant Visa USA is banking that online contests will boost the use of its cards for online holiday spending, announcing promotional partnerships with Universal Pictures and America Online, in addition to cardholder discounts with selected Web merchants.

Visa’s e-commerce unit, e-Visa, said it hopes to increase e-commerce transactions from 2 percent of its overall volume to 10 percent by the year 2004. The company’s game plan is to use promotions to target and convert Web surfers who are “just looking,” said e-Visa vice president Gerry Sweeney.

“We’ve found that Internet promotions that provide value to online shoppers are very effective marketing tools for turning ‘browsers’ into ‘buyers,'” he said. “We’ll continue to provide the most exciting and interactive promotions anytime and anywhere our cardholders will shop online this holiday season.”

To that end, the company inked a deal with another ubiquitous brand — Imagine Entertainment’s “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” starring Jim Carey. In conjunction with Universal Pictures’ November 17th release of the film, Visa and Universal launched a co-branded sweepstakes: “Visa and the Grinch Give Back The Holidays!”

The promotion aims to capitalize on the film’s current media blitz (and ideally, box-office success) to boost signups and to entice Visa cardholders to buy online. With each online purchase throughout November and December, Visa users earn a chance at a reimbursement for the total dollar amount purchased on their Visa cards for the two months.

To promote the contest, Visa member banks’ Web pages will feature games, movie trailers and information on the promotion.

San Francisco-based Visa and several of its affiliated online businesses are also offering merchant-specific versions of the Universal contest. For example, when cardholders use their Visa card at usairways.com throughout November and December, they are entered to win the total dollar amount purchased at usairways.com on their Visa card for the period.

Visa also signed a separate deal with Dulles, Va.-based AOL to boost sales on the service, and to increase registration for AOL’s Quick Checkout wallet, which stores customers’ billing information for use throughout AOL commerce properties.

The Visa-AOL contest offers a user the chance to win $15,000 each day during November and December. The promotion reprises a similar contest last year, during which Visa cardholders accounted for more than 70 percent of new AOL wallet registrations, spokespeople from the companies said.

Visa also rolled out special Visa discounts to drive sales on several partnered sites, including Cooking.com, Sharper Image, Sunglass Hut, SmarterKids.com and cdnow.com.

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