Industry Must Coordinate to Foster Growth

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The structural changes in insert media are just beginning. Everyone who participates in the medium - the mailer, brokers and managers, printers, letter shops and ad agencies - will see the changes.


The main issues are new mailers and a coordinated effort by all participants to keep inserts in the mainstream media.


The most obvious change will be the rush of new insert programs, reflecting the income potential heretofore kept under cover except to the initiated. Obviously, if Company A thinks that outside mailers traveling in its packages is a good idea, then Company B will jump on the bandwagon. The 1,500-plus insert programs are a modest but healthy start to the distribution potential we will see in the future.


Mailers looking to expand their advertising efforts must consider insert media. With another postal rate increase on the horizon and the leveling off of new lists, inserts will find their rightful place in marketing plans of more mailers.


It is the coordinated effort of the insert industry operating under the Insert Media Council that needs attention.


The Direct Marketing Association implied that in return for new members in the council, greater attention would be paid to issues that only the DMA can supervise effectively. These issues are at the core of the effort we need to be sure is in place.


There are several aspects to the effort needed to keep the momentum. These include advertising and promotion of the insert medium; statistics to authenticate the industry; coordination to ease the high labor costs of trafficking inserts and keeping the playing field level. Let's take each of these and see what they mean to our newly energized industry.


Advertising and promotion always have been the province of the broker/manager segment of our industry for obvious reasons. With the start of insert media sections in most major trade papers, success stories of mailers using inserts will grow more common.


For example, the mention of inserts being used by more than 10 percent of the respondents to a survey by the DMA reported in the Oct. 20 DM News should be cause for celebration. In addition, the generic advertising and promotion sponsored by the DMA and including major players from all segments of the industry will create an atmosphere of success.


Statistics and definitions go hand in hand. Every broker/manager has his or her definition of what's available. Media researchers need to be able to authenticate the programs including their circulation, cost per thousand, description of market reached, etc., and to rely on definitions of the insert programs that all agree to. It is time to replace alternative media, PIP and other nondescriptions with universally accepted definitions of insert media. It is time for SRDS or mIn to step up and act as the arbitrator.


Such coordination requires cooperation from all the major broker/managers. This includes insertion orders, clearance requests, status reports, invoicing and payment terms that all can agree on, as well as forms that all can use interchangeably before eventually switching to the Internet for further cost reduction in trafficking production. Growth needs to come from all broker/managers, program owners, mailers and suppliers to the insert industry.


Growth will be produced from each participant feeling that his or her contribution to the energized Insert Media Council will result in greater business done more efficiently. This growth is just the beginning for all who participate in insert media. n


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