Amazon, Vonage affirm insert media's growth

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NEW YORK - The atmosphere at the Direct Marketing Association's 
Insert Media Day at the McGraw-Hill conference center March 6 was 
positive, with many traditional direct marketing experts speaking to 
the medium's increasing importance in a changing media landscape.
Keynote speaker Sam Wheeler, director of advertising and partnerships 
at Amazon.com, said his company offers 80 million package insert 
opportunities annually as well as on-box ad space and online display 
ads. While the Seattle-based online retailer is still finessing its 
insert program, Mr. Wheeler said he admired the strength in the 
industry's business model.
"You guys are in a really unique position because you're so 
accountable," Mr. Wheeler said. "You're always working to make sure 
that people get paid and that's reassuring."
Speakers at Insert Media Day agreed that the accountability of direct 
marketing also appeals to brand marketers as budgets tighten and 
eyeballs move online.
Doug Guyer, president of new business development at Berwyn, PA-based 
International Direct Response Inc., said there are still silos within 
companies between direct and brand marketing.
He talked about the need to educate companies that are not used to 
scaling their spend in relation to tests and instead renew ad 
contracts based on a fixed yearly budget. He praised companies that 
"get it" and combine branding with sales accountability.
Speaking for this tactic was Benjamin Quigley, director of marketing 
at Vonage. His company's marketing objectives for inserts are to 
build the brand and get sales.
While Vonage's brand message, "One smart decision," is not used 
directly in its insert strategy, the basic message carries over in 
inserts that read "Keep your phone number, lower your phone bill."
"I'm a huge fan of insert media," Mr. Quigley said. "It can feed into 
the brand work that you are doing and inform it. The reason we don't 
go overboard with the brand is because we tested it - it doesn't go 
over well."
Copywriter and direct marketing veteran Herschell Gordon Lewis warned 
the insert crowd against blurring the lines between direct and brand 
tactics.
"Remember who you are; you are an insert," he said. "We are in the 
response business and we have been invaded by the brand."
Mr. Lewis said that successful inserts take the perspective of the 
buyer rather than championing the company that is providing the 
product. He said testing was the only way to determine the best 
creative.
Testing, and changing ad spend based on results, has not only proved 
well for the 50-year-old insert media industry but may become the 
standard as buyers move online.
Mr. Wheeler said Amazon runs A/B tests for creative in internal as 
well as third-party advertiser offers and could have results within a 
few hours.
"We're very nimble...we don't make any decisions at our company 
unless we have the data behind it," he said.

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