Insert Media Day Panel Advises on Blossoming Catalog, Statement Inserts

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NEW YORK -- With annual insertion opportunities stretching into the billions and attractive pricing, the growing ranks of catalog blow-in and statement insert programs are a must-test for direct marketers.


A panel of insert professionals and practitioners offered tips for using these programs yesterday at the Direct Marketing Association's 3rd annual Insert Media Day at the Marriott Marquis.


Catalog blow-ins represent more than 2.5 billion inserts annually, and that figure is growing, said panelist Sandra Roscoe, executive vice president at Singer Direct.


"There are close to 300 programs on the market now, up from about 100 in 2003," she said.


The pros for this type of program include reach, targeting by demographics/interests, low media costs, revenue generation and implied endorsement, Roscoe said, while cons include the possibility of inserts falling out, lower response than direct mail, limited targeting, being tied to another company's mail schedule and size/weight limitations.


Credit card statement insert programs fall into four categories, said panelist Jackie Kern, managing director/co-founder of Main Street Direct. The largest is Visa and MasterCard issuers with 125 million monthly inserts. Retail credit card issuers offer 60 million monthly inserts, oil company credit card issuers 15 million and other credit card issuers such as American Express and Discover have 50 million.


Statement insert formats include regular inserts, bangtails and on-statement messaging, Kern said. Main reasons for statement insert effectiveness include huge rollout potential, implied endorsement, 100 percent deliverability by First-Class mail, simplicity and cost effectiveness, she said.


Mailers on the panel also advised attendees on testing these types of insert media programs.


"Due diligence is very important," said Jane Buck, media director for check marketer Custom Direct.


Her company never pays on a key code that was to be inserted until the first four to five orders come in as proof that the piece was actually inserted, she said. Pieces often don't make it out on the specified mail date, she said.


Joanna DeGennaro, director of packaging enclosures at Bookspan, suggested that mailers test sufficient quantity and test new creative often, keeping the weight of the piece in mind. Bookspan changes creative once a quarter, she said.


Meg Garabrant, account executive for the AM/Direct division of Millard Group Inc., moderated the session.


Kristen Bremner covers list news, insert media, privacy and fundraising for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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