Print media, it's time to reconsider insert media

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List and insert brokers and managers are being subjected to lower activity, according to reports in the trade press. New services are needed to bolster their bottom lines and counteract the effects of the Internet and cooperative databases. Add to this the consolidations among some prominent brokerages and the birth of new, boutique firms, and there are quite a number of challenges.

In spite of all this, broker/managers do have many opportunities in today's marketplace. The first is to incorporate insert media into their activities, if they have not done so already.

The insert media industry is poised for significant growth, thansk to postage rate increases, emphasis on targeted marketing and greater knowledge of the efficacy of inserts through more success stories. Others reasons include the willingness of non-direct mail companies to participate in the revenue from distributing inserts, and the explosion of catalog bind-in and blow-in programs.

Magazine publishers, including Bookspan, Highlights for Children, New York Magazine and Reiman, among others, continue to use insert media to maintain circulation levels. Publishers accepting inserts in their renewals and statements include Boardroom, The New York Times and Rodale Press.  

While this is positive for all concerned, there are several clouds on the horizon. One is the greater emphasis in the trade papers on Internet-based media at the expense of insert media coverage. Media workhorses, such as inserts and mailing lists, are still the backbone of most print media campaigns. The success stories are there, but they need to make it to the print mailer community. 

Another challenge to be considered is a significant drop in volume for prominent, existing insert program owners. Due to lack of new lists for prospecting, as well as the “abacus effect,” response rates are falling off for many catalog insert programs. This requires the insert mailer to explore new insert programs.

Yet another challenge, historically, has been the oft-quoted, “I tested it, and it didn't work” excuse. Brokers need to explain to print mailers the test and re-test formula that is the backbone of successful circulation activity.

Adept broker/managers will meet the challenges and look back at this pause as if it were a speed bump before resuming the drive to success.

Leon Henry is chairman and CEO of Leon Henry Inc. Reach him at

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