The Guide To America's Mailstream
Advertorials : Postal2020.com
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Advertorials

How Targeting & Technology Changed The Ad Game

Targeting & Technology Change Mail Game New figures from advertising authority Robert Coen show that advertisers used mail at record levels in 2007.

Mail spending rose 4.0 percent in 2007 to $60.998 billion, according to Coen, senior vice president, director of forecasting with Universal McCann, one of the largest advertising agencies in the world,

In the December 2007 issue of his “Insider’s Report,” Coen
said that advertisers spent $283.88 billion on all media in 2007, a .07 percent increase over 2006. In effect, mail continues to represent one of every five dollars spent by U.S. advertisers.

Coen said Internet advertising increased 20 percent in 2007 to $10.92 billion — about one-sixth of the dollars spent with the mailstream. Newspapers took in $42.94 billion, down substantially from the $47.71 billion spent in 2006.

For 2008 Coen estimates that total ad spending will grow by 3.7 percent to $294.38 billion. expenditures for ad mail will grow at an even stronger pace. Coen predicts that for 2008 advertisers will spend $63.73 billion advertising through the mailstream, up 4.5 percent over 2007.

The fact is that advertisers will spend more money on direct mail than on promotions through radio, newspapers, magazines, network television, cable TV or the Internet.

“Madison Avenue,” says Business Week, “came of age as a content supplier to mass media and remains much better versed in making 30-second TV spots than in exploiting the interactive intricacies of the Internet. What is more, in the same way that network TV’s dominance of media is eroding, advertising’s dominance of marketing is diminishing. Marketers are increasing their spending on telemarketing, direct mail, e-mail, in-store displays, and other forms of closely targeted, nonmedia spending.” (See: “The Vanishing Mass Market,” July 12, 2004)

For advertisers, there is a use and value for all forms of media. Each media option offers something unique, and in a country with an $11 trillion economy everyone benefits when there are numerous media choices.

But why the interest in mail?

Advertisers today want to reach specific publics. For instance, a local pizza store may want to reach everyone in a given ZIP code while a company that sells ski boots may only want to reach households with a given income level in communities where snow is common six months a years.

The availability of consumer and business data, advanced software, computers and market segmentation allow advertisers to target their messages with great precision. And when messages are carefully targeted, it becomes possible to obtain higher response rates and lower costs per sale. In other words, mail is popular because advertisers get strong returns for each dollar they spend.

Targeting offers other benefits as well.

  • With careful targeting consumers are likely to receive fewer irrelevant ads. They will increasingly receive only those ads which most closely relate to their buying patterns and preferences.
  • In an age of heightened environmental awareness, targeting can lower material consumption and yet produce the same number of sales.
  • Advertising mail is the most democratic medium of all. You don’t need a $10 million campaign to start an advertising mail program. Individuals, small businesses, charities and growing companies can all find advertising mail programs that fit their budgets — and the same is also true for unions, political campaigners, environmental groups, consumer organizations and religious congregations.

Does ad mail targeting work? You bet.

According to the Postal Service consumers read 78 percent of the advertising mail they receive, nearly 10 percent respond to offers, and 21 percent bring coupons and ad mail with them when they shop.

The new emphasis on targeting can be seen in ad mail volume:

For example, between fiscal 1996 and 2007, ad mail volume increased from 71.7 billion pieces to 103.516 billion — a huge gain, especially given the growth of email and online communication in general.

What is the future of ad mail? Given universal delivery six days a week as well as competitive pricing, ad mail offers much potential. After all, how else can you securely reach more than 148 million physical addresses?

Mail Means 8,300,000 Jobs Inside Our Borders

Mail Means 8,300,000 Jobs Inside Our BordersOne of the largest industries in America is virtually unknown, yet it anchors more than 8,300,000 jobs and is related to the production of goods and services worth $1.2 trillion. (For details, see the 2008 Economic Jobs Study Final Report)

The postal system in this country is so important that it’s actually included in the U.S. Constitution — Section 8 says that only Congress shall have the power to “establish post offices and post roads.”

Why Congress? And why not the states? Because the Founders knew that unlike the situation in Europe, a single postal system with one set of standards and one set of prices could bind the national together. All citizens, no matter where they lived, would pay the same fee for the same services.

No less important, the U.S. postal system requires no payments from recipients. We have a sender-funded delivery system, meaning that senders take all the financial risk when they send materials through the mailstream. (In contrast, email recipients pay  and that’s why it doesn’t matter if a spammer broadcasts 10 messages or a million emails, the cost is about the same.)

This is a site which says that the mailstream is important to the country, that we as a Nation are not so wealthy that we can afford to lose millions of jobs inside our borders and that a reasonable discussion of the mailing system is helped by the availability of factual information and data.

Ecology: Why Every Major Green Group Uses Mail

Ecology: Why Every Major Green Group Uses MailEvery major environmental and consumer organization uses the mailstream to raise money, gain members, promote causes and distribute information. Larger groups send out tens of millions of items annually.

When asked if Greenpeace was contributing to the nation’s environmental problems because the group uses direct mail, Peter Bahouth, a former Greenpeace executive director, once told ABC News that “accusing environmental groups of paper pollution is a bit like saying that we need to get the ambulances off the street because they’re loud.”

You can check for yourself by looking at the IRS Form 990 which most non-profit organizations are required to make available to the public. More than 1.5 million non-profit groups are listed at GuideStar.org, and many post their Form 990s for public review.

Why do major ecology groups use the mails? Just take a look at mail and the waste stream.

How much garbage is produced each year?

According to the latest-available figures from the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States produces 13 billion tons of nonhazardous solid waste each year. The EPA calls this material Subtitle D waste. (See: RCRA: Reducing Risk From Waste, EPA, EPA530-K-97-004, September 1997, page 5.)

Thirteen billion tons in the mid-1990s! That seems impossible. Is there an environmental organization with similar numbers?

Yes. As an example, Greenpeace has research showing that we produced 11.3 billion tons of Subtitle D waste in the 1980s.

The United States,” says the Natural Resources Defense Council, “produces between 12 and 14 billion tons of waste annually. This includes mining waste, oil and gas waste, agricultural waste, hazardous waste, food-processing residues, demolition debris, incinerator ash, and medical waste, in addition to municipal waste. The management of most of this waste is not regulated by U.S. federal law — it is exempt — and of the total, municipal waste accounts for only about 210 million tons.” (See: Too Good To Throw Away: Recycling’s Proven Record, Chapter 2)

The problem, of course, is that more recent Subtitle D figures are needed to better understand waste issues, information which the EPA has not made available to the public.

What is municipal solid waste?

In general terms, “municipal solid waste” or “MSW” can be seen as a limited number of items which are part of the overall waste stream. As the EPA explains: “our trash is made up of the things we commonly use and then throw away. These materials range from packaging, food scraps, and grass clippings to old sofas, computers, tires, and refrigerators. It does not include industrial, hazardous, or construction waste.” (See: Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2006, EPA, page 2)

Does MSW equal all the stuff that goes into local landfills?

No. Although omitted from the 2006 MSW report, the EPA has plainly stated in the past that “some people assume that ‘municipal solid waste’ must include everything that is landfilled in Subtitle D landfills,” but this is NOT correct. (See: Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2005, EPA, page 25)

“It has been common practice,” says the EPA, “to landfill wastes such as municipal sludges, nonhazardous industrial wastes, residue from automobile salvage operations, and construction and demolition debris along with MSW.” (See: Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2005, EPA, page 25)

But wait a minute. Doesn’t the EPA say that the number of landfills has declined substantially during the past decade?

The EPA says two things: “while the number of U.S. landfills has steadily declined over the years, the average landfill size has increased.” It also states that “since 1990, the total volume of MSW going to landfills dropped by 4 million tons, from 142.3 million to 138.2 million tons in 2006.” (See: Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2006, EPA, page 8)

In other words, older, smaller and less ecology-secure landfills are being replaced with a small number of larger sites which can benefit from new technologies and better management.

While the volume of MSW material thrown away has dropped by 4 millions tons per year, the amount of available landfill capacity is actually growing. As The New York Times has reported:

“It became clear in the early 1990’s that there was a glut of disposal space, not the widely believed shortage that had drawn headlines in the 1980’s.

“Although many town dumps had closed, they were replaced by fewer, but huge, regional ones. That sent dumping prices plunging in many areas in the early 1990’s and led to a long slump in the waste industry.

“Since then the industry and its followers have been relying on time — about 330 million tons of trash went into landfills in the United States last year alone, according to Solid Waste Digest, a trade publication — to fill up some of those holes, erase the glut and send disposal prices skyward again. Instead, dump capacity has kept growing, and rapidly, even as only a few new dumps were built.” (See: Rumors of a Shortage of Dump Space Were Greatly Exaggerated, August 12, 2005)

Where can I get more information regarding the landfill glut?

Press here to see our complete report.

How much MSW is there?

While the overall waste stream consists of some 13 billion tons of nonhazardous materials, MSW is just a small fraction of that amount. In 2006 we generated 251.3 million tons of MSW — 1.93 percent of the non-hazardous waste stream. (See: Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2006, EPA, page 7)

Do 251.3 million tons of MSW go into landfills?

No. MSW in 2005 included 251.3 million tons of material before recycling, composting and energy recovery. The amount left to landfill was 138.2 million tons. (See: Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2006, EPA, page 9)

Aren’t we landfilling more MSW than ever?

No. MSW generation is down. Recycling and composting are both up. The result is that MSW landfill use has declined.

For instance, the EPA reports that we landfilled 138.2 million tons of material in 2006 — that’s down from 142.3 million tons in 1990 — a time when we had 50 million fewer people. (See: Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2006, EPA, page 9)

How long will it take to pack our landfills with MSW?

More than MSW goes into landfills, so the issue involves a wider array of waste than MSW by itself. No less important, we are now adding landfill capacity faster than we are using it.

The New York Times has reported that between 2001 and 2005 the nation’s three largest trash collectors — Waste Management, Allied Waste Industries and Republic Services — “buried 882 million tons of waste. But the remaining permitted capacity of their combined 410 dumps did not shrink. It expanded over those four years by more than one billion tons. The three companies now expect expansions of another 1.8 billion tons. At that level, their combined capacity could handle the nation’s trash sent to dumps for about 26 years.” (See: Rumors of a Shortage of Dump Space Were Greatly Exaggerated, August 12, 2005)

Not only are the three largest private companies increasing landfill capacity, the same is also true for other private and public facilities. This is happening because we are landfilling less and also because landfill technology is improving — we can get 30 percent more stuff into a given amount of landfill space than in the past, according to the Times. Equally important in the case of paper-based materials, scrap that used to be landfilled is now being exported to China. In fact, in 2007 the Chinese bought scrap paper worth more than $2 billion from the U.S.

Will we soon run out of landfill capacity?

No. In their most-recent annual reports, the three major collection and disposal companies told the Securities and Exchange Commission that they have enough landfill capacity today to last for decades — without further expansion.

We will develop new landfill sites using the latest and best environmental techniques — certainly as good as the technologies we use today and no doubt better. However, efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle should continue not only because they limit landfill needs, but because such practices are inherently good for the environment and for us all.

If annual Subtitle D waste totals 13 billion tons or more, why have we not run out of landfill space already?

Because much of the “waste stream” is nonhazardous industrial and production water, mining debris and agricultural waste that is left in place and not landfilled.

Is there any source which shows billions of tons of Subtitle D waste broken into categories by weight?

Yes. An official 1988 EPA study entitled, “Report to Congress: Solid Waste Disposal in the United States,” (EPA/530-SW-88-011) details Subtitle D categories. On page 11, Volume 1, is a table showing more than 11,387 billion tons of waste, including 158 million tons of MSW. In 1988, of course, we had a population of just 244,498,982 people, far fewer than today.

How much MSW is in the form of paper products?

Paper and paperboard products amounted to 85.29 million tons in 2006. However, paper-based products have traditionally had high recovery levels. While the general recovery rate for MSW is 32.5 percent, the recovery rate for paper-based products is 51.6 percent — meaning 44.02 million tons were diverted from America’s landfills. (See: 2006 MSW Characterization Data Tables, EPA, table 2)

Given that we live in the Internet era, wouldn’t it make sense avoid all landfill issues and just use email? After all, with email there’s no environmental impact.

The presumption that email has no environmental impact is simply untrue.

According to the Scientific American, “e-mailing, number crunching and Web searches in the U.S. consumed as much as 61 billion kilowatt-hours last year, or 1.5 percent of the nation’s electricity — half of which comes from coal. In 2005 the computers of the world ate up 123 billion kilowatthours of energy, a number that will double by 2010 if present trends continue, according to Jonathan Koomey, a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. As a result, the power bill to run a computer over its lifetime will surpass the cost of buying the machine in the first place — giving Internet and computer companies a business reason to cut energy costs, as well as an environmental one.” (See: Digital Diet, April 2008)

Not only is energy consumption a concern, so is landfill usage. PC Magazine offers these examples:

___”A pile of our obsolete computers could make a 22-story mountain that covers the entire 472 square miles of the city of Los Angeles.”

___”Three billion units of consumer electronics potentially will become scrap between 2003 and 2010. That’s nine gadgets thrown away for every person currently living in the U.S.”

___”As little as 0.014 gram of mercury is enough to contaminate the fish in a 20-acre lake. The 300 million computers that have already been discarded contain enough mercury (about 0.5 gram each) to poison the Great Lakes eight times over.”

___”Nearly every large electronics and semiconductor manufacturer that began operations in the 1970s or earlier has an EPA Superfund site (deemed the worst toxic waste sites) in its history. Forty-one million Americans live within 4 miles of one of these sites.” (See: Measuring America’s E-Waste, March 17, 2008)

The important point, of course, is that email offers great value and utility, but email — like every other product and service — is not environmentally cost-free.

How much advertising mail is included within MSW?

Advertising mail totals 5.89 million tons before recycling. However, 2.28 million tons is recycled, a recovery rate of 38.7%. (See: 2006 MSW Characterization Data Tables, EPA, table 4)

So how much of the waste stream is advertising mail?

Using EPA data, as a Nation we have 13 billion tons of Subtitle D waste. We also have — before recovery — 5.89 million tons of advertising mail. In the worst case, advertising mail thus represents 0.000453 of the waste stream — about 5/10,000ths. After recycling, of course, the percentage is even lower.

How can we increase the percentage of advertising mail saved by recycling?

We now have thousands of local governments that collect paper — but not all paper. We would have significantly-higher recovery rates for ad mail if local communities collected all paper and not just newspapers. Given the worldwide demand for U.S. scrap paper, such enhanced collections would keep more material away from landfills while at the same time bringing additional money into the U.S.

The Check Is Less Often In The Mail

The Check Is Less Often In The MailThe check is not in the mail — at least as not as often as it used to be.

Figures from the Federal Reserve show that “the number of checks paid in the United States has fallen from 42 billion in 2001, to 37 billion in 2003, and to 30 billion in 2006.”

Whoops. That’s 12 billion checks that vanished in just five years. You can bet that the trend continues and that future reports will show even fewer paper-based checks in 2008 and beyond.

Why is this a mailstream matter? Why are postal jobs at stake? Should the Postal Service be concerned?

In many cases the reduction in check volume reflects the increased use of electronic deposits. If this means that a foreman no longer goes around the plant floor on a Friday giving out envelopes then we do not have a postal issue in the sense of deliveries and such.

But many checks are sent through the mails. It’s difficult to imagine that we have 12 billion fewer checks and no mail volume reduction. Okay, it’s impossible to imagine.

The Postal Service and the mailer community cannot undo either progress or technology. But the question ought to be asked: If the volume represented by checks — those checks that really are in the mail — is being reduced, then what new volume is being created?

This is the essential issue for the mailer community. As postal volume declines and fixed expenses largely remain, increased hard costs per piece must be absorbed by remaining users. As prices per piece rise the incentive to avoid the postal system grows.

What to do? The Postal Service needs to demonstrate why paper-based communication and exchange have value in the electronic era. There’s a good argument to be made — if only someone would make it.

The Wonderful Thing About Green Is That It Comes In Different Shades

The Wonderful Thing About Green Is That It Comes In Different ShadesFew matters generate more controversy than environmental questions. Honorable people with deeply-held convictions routinely debate a host of issues, everything from owls to elephants and from old forests to new ones.

But debate is healthy. It’s a sign of activity rather than stagnation, a chance to test ideas, and an opportunity to build consensus.

Through debate and discussion we’ve come a long way since the first Earth Day in 1970. According to the U.S. Forest Service, the net volume of trees set aside for growing stock increased from 516 billion cubic feet in 1953 to more than 925 billion cubic feet in 2007.

The crusade to reduce, re-use, and recycle has been accepted nationwide. Small, inefficient landfills are being replaced by larger and safer facilities. In fact, many states now have fewer landfills — but more landfill capacity. Paper, envelopes, and catalogs that use recycled fibers, water-activated adhesives, and soy-based inks are increasingly common. Significant efforts have been made to clean the air and water, and the results can be seen in every state.

There is surely more to do, but as we celebrate Earth Day each year, let us all consider that while environmental purity and absolutism produce headlines, discussion and common sense produce results.

Mail. The Medium that Delivers.

© 2008 Postal2020.com, All Rights Reserved.

It Means Too Much To Be Called “Junk”

It Means Too Much To Be Called “Junk”Advertising mail gets a bum rap, especially from those who call it “junk mail.”

“Junk” suggests that advertising mail benefits no one, that it is useless and without worth. But the truth is that advertising mail provides important values. It fuels economic growth by generating sales. It provides jobs for people in every state. It’s vital to charitable, educational, consumer, ecological, political and medical causes nationwide. It brings coupons and catalogs to millions of Americans each day, including the elderly, the rural and the disabled.

Advertising mail supports our universal mail delivery system by lowering the cost of postal services. In fact, without advertising mail, the price of a first-class letter would soar.

Why? The Postal Service has fixed costs for people and facilities. Advertising mail represents about half of all mail volume. Take away advertising mail and to keep universal postal deliveries nationwide, six days a week, you still need most of the postal facilities and people now on the payroll. Fewer users sharing largely the same fixed costs means only one thing — vastly higher rates for the postal patrons who remain.

Don’t let anybody fool you. Advertising mail is many things. But it’s not “junk.”

Mail. The Medium that Delivers.

© 2008 Postal2020.com, All Rights Reserved.

Every Day Can Be Special When You Shop By Mail

Every Day Can Be Special When You Shop By MailFather’s Day, Mother’s Day, Christmas, a birthday, a graduation, a promotion, a new job, Valentine’s Day, an anniversary — there’s a lot to celebrate, something important almost every month.

And being in the holiday spirit — no matter which holiday is at hand — means having the right gift at the right time.

Little wonder that when it comes to special days, more and more Americans avoid the hassle of traffic, mall prices, and limited store hours to shop the easy way. By catalog.

More than 10,000 catalogs bring a world of goods and services to your front door. Clothes, furniture, electronics, books, jewelry, gift items, tools — you name it, and there’s a catalog that’s got it.

For more than 100 years mail-order catalogs have been the consumer’s best friend, an American tradition that means selection, value, and low prices. And today, when time is precious, catalogs allow consumers to shop at home, pay at home, and get delivery at home.

So the next time one of those special days is on the horizon, be prepared. Sit down, put your feet up, order by catalog. And let the world come to you.

Mail. The Medium that Delivers.

© 2008 Postal2020.com, All Rights Reserved.