How and Why Dimensional Inserts Work

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I'm often asked, "Why consider dimensional inserts over traditional 'flat' ads?" It's simple. They outperform.

A Time Inc. readership survey found that 91 percent of readers recalled the messaging delivered in a dimensional ad. That's 51 percent more than can be expected with a flat ad. And given today's advertising clutter, this rate of recall is more than impressive.

Flat ads typically provide a one- to three-second window to deliver a message. On average, a dimensional product owns the viewer's attention for more than 45 seconds.

Another benefit is a dimensional insert's ability to "break the book." When the reader thumbs pages, the publication typically opens to the dimensional ad because of the thickness of the insert.

But dimensional inserts require effective management and thorough attention to detail in planning and production. By addressing production factors upfront, you can eliminate surprises that might hinder your campaign.

With dimensional inserts, it is imperative that you adhere to the publisher's binding specifications. Most publishers require that you secure their approval not only of a comp representative of the insert, but one that confirms the size, weight, dimensions, safety and function as well as content. Both form and content should be reviewed and approved by the publisher before going to press.

What's the most important step to ensure a smooth execution of a dimensional insert? Testing, testing, testing.

Work closely with the publisher and partner with its binderies. Pre-approval of the format is crucial. Feedback from the binderies helps incorporate any necessary modifications to ensure smooth running during the binding process. This is particularly critical with the inclusion of non-paper components such as electronics or product sampling.

It's worth mentioning that the introduction of certain non-paper components may move the insert into the "ride-along" rate classification. With this, the advertiser would incur a per ride-along piece rate of $0.131, as specified in the Direct Mail Manual 707.3.3.3. Though this surcharge is rare, many of the nation's leading periodicals offer the ride-along program as part of their standard price card for print advertisers.

Time and again, dimensional inserts have proven to be twice as memorable with readers than flat ads, something to consider when weighing return on investment for your advertising efforts.


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