Amazon.com sees inserts as part of viable media mix

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NEW YORK - The Direct Marketing Association's Insert Media Day at the McGraw-Hill Conference Center yesterday focused on the changing media landscape and the growing opportunities that the alternative medium has to offer marketers.

In his keynote speech, Sam Wheeler, Amazon.com's director of advertising and partnerships, emphasized the insert's place as a complement to the booming online market. With 80 million packages reaching U.S. consumers each year, he said that Amazon.com aims to leverage its vast audience when working with advertisers across channels.

"The sun sort of never sets on Amazon locations," Mr. Wheeler said.

The company operates in the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany and India, in addition its growing distribution centers in the U.S. In an effort to offer customers quicker product delivery, the retailer is expanding its presence into New Hampshire. The Web site sees an average of 7 million unique users each day.

The e-commerce site at www.amazon.com offers more than 21 million products that include books, entertainment media, clothing and groceries. Mr. Wheeler said that about 30 percent of the company's products are offered through third-party retailers.

Package advertising opportunities with Amazon.com include black ink printing on one end of the shipment box and a bonus book, which can hold multiple retail offers. The company also offers traditional insert opportunities. Mr. Wheeler did not give an exact minimum quantity to run a program with Amazon.com. He said that the company has run tests of 200,000 inserts.

At the beginning of this year, Amazon.com launched a comprehensive segmentation program to its advertisers. Using past purchasing data that feeds its customers personalization and recommendation programs, the company now offers online targeting based on seven different purchaser categories.

"You can hit them at the home page, hit them when they are searching, learn about the product - and then one, two, three days later when they're opening the box they get another opportunity to buy," he said.

Whether there is comparable off-line segmentation available to marketers through Amazon.com, the answer was "sort-of." Geographic segmenting can be done based on the distribution center that a package leaves from. However, it has not been offered yet as a reliable program.

"It is something that we're trying to get on our product roadmap," Mr. Wheeler said. "Don't expect it for '07."

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