Publication Volume Up and Testing Flat
On the heels of the May 2007 postal rate increase, 2008 was a heavier mailing year for publishers, who sent 32 percent more efforts, an increase from 7.5 percent of all mail received by the Who's Mailing What! Archive last year to 11.1 percent of all mail presently.
Digging deeper within the publications sector, newspapers have cut back their direct mail efforts by about half this past year-a sign of that industry's struggle. Newsletter efforts also have decreased, albeit less dramatically, from 22 percent of publishing mail last year to 17 percent this year. In fact, the only category with an increase in volume was magazine publishing, where there were 13.2 percent more pieces mailed.
With mostly acquisitions efforts in the mail, only 12.4 percent of publishing efforts were personalized, a three percentage point decrease since last year. Premiums remained flat this past year at 46.2 percent of efforts. Two unusual premiums that stood out from the pack were OXO brand tongs offered by Cook's Country and an umbrella offered by Condé Nast Portfolio.
Since publishers are hurting for advertising revenue, they may be doing less testing, instead relying on control formats in hard times. Archive data shows publication control mailings have increased from 41 percent to 45.5 percent, indicating less testing. In past years, there has been even less testing than that, with publishers mailing controls at more than 50 percent and as high as 67 percent back in 2005. But there were other factors at play in years past, such as the May 2007 postal rate increase, which flummoxed publishers who had been using flat formats, and a heavy reliance on the voucher format.
Self-mailers were up by 24 percent this past year. Included in the self-mailer category are the popular "slim-jim" magalog formats (usually measuring 6˝ x 10˝) in lieu of the more costly 8-1/2˝ x 11˝ flat magalogs, and which run from 12 to 24 pages, are wafer-sealed and weigh less than 3 ounces.