Amazon, Vonage affirm insert media's growth
NEW YORK - The atmosphere at the Direct Marketing Association's
Insert Media Day at the McGraw-Hill conference center March 6 was
positive, with many traditional direct marketing experts speaking to
the medium's increasing importance in a changing media landscape.
Keynote speaker Sam Wheeler, director of advertising and partnerships
at Amazon.com, said his company offers 80 million package insert
opportunities annually as well as on-box ad space and online display
ads. While the Seattle-based online retailer is still finessing its
insert program, Mr. Wheeler said he admired the strength in the
industry's business model.
"You guys are in a really unique position because you're so
accountable," Mr. Wheeler said. "You're always working to make sure
that people get paid and that's reassuring."
Speakers at Insert Media Day agreed that the accountability of direct
marketing also appeals to brand marketers as budgets tighten and
eyeballs move online.
Doug Guyer, president of new business development at Berwyn, PA-based
International Direct Response Inc., said there are still silos within
companies between direct and brand marketing.
He talked about the need to educate companies that are not used to
scaling their spend in relation to tests and instead renew ad
contracts based on a fixed yearly budget. He praised companies that
"get it" and combine branding with sales accountability.
Speaking for this tactic was Benjamin Quigley, director of marketing
at Vonage. His company's marketing objectives for inserts are to
build the brand and get sales.
While Vonage's brand message, "One smart decision," is not used
directly in its insert strategy, the basic message carries over in
inserts that read "Keep your phone number, lower your phone bill."
"I'm a huge fan of insert media," Mr. Quigley said. "It can feed into
the brand work that you are doing and inform it. The reason we don't
go overboard with the brand is because we tested it - it doesn't go
Copywriter and direct marketing veteran Herschell Gordon Lewis warned
the insert crowd against blurring the lines between direct and brand
"Remember who you are; you are an insert," he said. "We are in the
response business and we have been invaded by the brand."
Mr. Lewis said that successful inserts take the perspective of the
buyer rather than championing the company that is providing the
product. He said testing was the only way to determine the best
Testing, and changing ad spend based on results, has not only proved
well for the 50-year-old insert media industry but may become the
standard as buyers move online.
Mr. Wheeler said Amazon runs A/B tests for creative in internal as
well as third-party advertiser offers and could have results within a
"We're very nimble...we don't make any decisions at our company
unless we have the data behind it," he said.