Stat of the Month: Publishing
The current economy—which some optimistic economists have declared to be finally showing signs of a slow turnaround—has damaged nearly every direct mail sector, and publishing is certainly one of them. Publishing mail in our Who's Mailing What! Archive includes magazines (general interest, women's, men's, business/financial, regional, computer and special interest), newspapers, newsletters and subscription agencies, and all those categories are hurting from lapsing subscribers, a more parsimonious prospect base and increased postage costs. Meanwhile, the products themselves have suffered from the slipping ad revenue and increased paper costs, and many have shuttered their doors or at least undergone some level of downsizing.
This all will become obvious in the mailstream, right? Not necessarily. Despite all these giant obstacles and some mailers dropping by the wayside, the publishing sector grew in strength in 2008 and may continue to do so in 2009. Diving into the statistical database of the Who's Mailing What! Archive reveals several surprising findings, starting with the fact that nearly 8 percent of the mailstream in 2008 was publishing mail. That is a staggering 34.6 percent increase from 2007, and is more in line with the 8.1 percent share of the mailstream that publishing had back in 2005. Part of the reason that publishers look strong in the mail may be because other sectors pulled back, but the fact remains that publishers simpled mailed more in 2008 than either of the previous two years. Compared to 2005, last year zoomed back up to 78.4 percent of that total after having fallen to 56.9 percent in 2007.
The calendar year 2005 also represented a high in self-mailer usage, with more than a quarter of all efforts going out as self-mailers. After dipping below 17 percent in both 2006 and 2007, self-mailers climbed back above that figure in 2008.
Also climbing back are control mailings and premium usage. After registering at the high point of 65.2 percent of efforts in 2006, repeat mailings sunk all the way down to 40 percent in 2007, representing a 38.7 percent drop! In other words, many more test mailings went out in 2007 than in most years. But this past year, repeat mail increased to 47.1 percent. 2006 also represented a high for premium usage, at more than 50 percent of publishing mail, before returning to normal mid-40 percent levels in 2007 and 2008.
Lastly, the personalization technique, which can add expense to a mailing, was used in fewer publishing mailings in 2008 than in any of the last four years. Coming in at only 12.2 percent, personalization thus dropped a whopping 24.7 percent from 2007.