Tough times breed ingenuity, creativity for Inserts

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With the confluence of postal increases, consumers' green advocacy and soaring paper costs, it wouldn't be unreasonable to think that insert media is one of the print-rooted areas that are currently under attack.

Certainly, one or two of the companies Ispoke to at last week'sDirect Marketing Association Insert Media Day admitted that their customers were feeling the pain, and consequently, they were very quickly having to deal with a very different buyer while dealing with the odd headache themselves.

But from adversity comes creativity, apparently. As the very nice sales manager Ispoke to from envelope specialist Mead­Westvaco will confirm, Iwas really tickled by some of the creative inserts Isaw at his booth and at others' — cleverenvelope fold-outs, ultra-thin magnets, lightweight glossy paper — presented with the vigor of an industry modernizing itself. Iquietly dubbed the phenomenon “Bangtail 2.0” until Irealized that envelope-based inserts — while a very successful area for the business, as seen by the rise in billing inserts — were just part of a story that also had e-mails, dry cleaner hangers and supermarket shopping carts as characters.

The rub, of course, is how to measure the effectiveness of inserts. While some have a very straightforward response mechanism, others present a distinct tracking challenge. But the relatively affordable nature of the medium, coupled with the increased understanding marketers have of how to find the right brands to align with, means that the medium endures nonetheless. As the number of interactions consumers have with brands grows, so too does the opportunity to attach your message to that communication. The scattered nature of these conversations doesn't make it easy, but smart insert media companies are already looking in the right places.

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