Wot a Waste

The world of marketing is truly changing – and at an astonishing pace. We often write here about the steady decline of the 30 second ad on TV, but its slightly more dodgy, less glamorous and decidedly more wasteful, second cousin, Direct Mail is undergoing a huge paradigm shift of its own.

In the UK (according to Associated Newspapers) 3.4 billion pieces of direct mail (aka junk mail)¬†are sent every year, which equates to 60 per annum for every man, woman and child. 22% of these are simply binned without being opened. Very roughly, this equates to over a billion pounds ($1.8 billion) of money completely wasted, not even taking into account the environmental impact. With charity mailing, it’s even worse, ironically, with over 30% thrown away unopened.

Convenently, there are no stats to say how many of the rest are opened, glanced at and discarded, but if we take a response rate of about 1% (very, very high for a cold mailing) you can see that the industry has turned into the equivalent of an assassin wanting to eliminate one man, by nuking a whole city.

The marketing world is gradually turning to digital media and it was interesting to browse through the offerings at Ad:Tech here in London yesterday, which seems incredibly vibrant. Digital media is exploding as anyone who is involved in marketing realises. It takes the best of direct mail – targeted, accountable and measurable – but overlays an instant execution and response, lower cost, better metrics and low environmental impact. In other words, it’s simply a smarter way to operate.

What did quite surprise me though was that among all these established players, there was barely a mention of mobile. From the perspective of a few years hence, this will seem as extraordinary as the ideas of¬†putting billions of bits of tree fragments, via an incredibly expensive and lengthy¬†delivery mechanism through the doors of peoples’ houses, who just put them¬†straight in the waste bin.¬†¬†

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