Welcome to the Talon Mailing & Marketing January 2015 Newsletter.
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Service Starts Fiscal Year With Growth and a Bang
Maybe it was the election. Maybe it was the
economy. Maybe it was even a sign that an organization that was left for
dead is bouncing back.
Whatever the reason, the U.S. Postal Service revealed today
it had a bang-up October, with domestic mail volume up nearly 7% over the
same month last year, rather than the 2% decrease USPS was expecting.
The beleaguered agency had "controllable operating income" of $647 million
in the first month of Fiscal Year 2015, more than double what it budgeted
or what it earned last October.
Controllable operating income excludes
what is euphemistically referred to as prepaid retiree health benefits,
which USPS has stopped paying, and accounting adjustments for the future
cost of workers compensation cases.
Big growth areas
Major mail categories with significant revenue increases over October 2013
included "Permit Imprint Nonprofit Standard" (43%), Parcel Select (30%),
"Permit Imprint Regular Standard" (14%), and "Permit Imprint First-Class
(7%), according to an in-depth financial report also released today. Even
the Periodicals class was up a bit.
In the first month, with aggressive parcel rates for large business
mailers, volume for Shipping & Package Services rose 14% and
revenue by 12%.
Despite the higher volumes, work hours increased by less than 2% and total
expenses by less than 3%.
It will take more than one strong month, however, to get one of the
country's largest employers out of the financial woods.
USPS is frequently on the verge of running out of cash, and
it has no ability to borrow money, even for such mission-critical needs as
replacing its decrepit, inefficient delivery vehicles.
of Google's Online Ads Are Never "Seen"
By David Murphy, PC Magazine
An incredible 56.1% of ads on the internet are not seen by humans,
according to new research recently released by Google.
"With the advancement of new technologies we now know that many display
ads that are served never actually have the opportunity to be seen by a
user," said Google group product manager Sanaz Ahari in a blog post.
If you're a small business owner, a nonprofit marketing person, or anyone
else who has reason to buy a Web ad, there are a few good reasons why so
few people might be clicking on—or even noticing—your promotional efforts.
According to some new research from Google, 56.1 percent of ads on its
various display advertising platforms remain unviewed. That's not to say
that the ads disappear, or that some code in the page itself makes the ad
impossible to see. When it speaks of "viewability," Google defines an
advertisement as having been viewed if 50 percent of the ad's pixels are
in view for at least one second's worth of time.
In other words, if a person rapidly clicks through sites or doesn't scroll
through the entirety of a page, and doesn't see at least half of an ad,
then that ad is considered unviewable. The same holds true if something in
a person's browser mucks up the ad itself, for example.
Google's figures, as noted by CBS Moneywatch, align pretty closely with
other metrics from Comscore and Vindico related to advertisement
viewability—54 percent and 55 percent aren't viewed, according to the two
According to Google, the average ad viewability for a publisher is around
"A small number of publishers are serving most of the non-viewable
impressions," the company notes.
As you might expect, the exact placement of an advertisement on a Web page
can greatly affect its viewability. People are more likely to view an ad
that's been placed right above a page's fold, or the point before a person
has to scroll down to see more of the page. The top of a webpage isn't
actually the best spot for viewability—presumably, users are scrolling
down too quickly to see the entirety of the ad for very long.
However, Google also notes that placement isn't the end-all, be-all way to
increase the visibility of one's advertisement. Around 68 percent of ads
above a page's fold, on average, are viewable; that number drops to 40
percent for ads below the fold, but that's a lot higher than the zero
percent you might have been envisioning.
According to Google, an ad's size also plays into its viewability.
Vertical ads are more viewable—"Not a surprise, since they stay on screen
longer as users move around a page," Google writes.
Why Retailers Keep Sending You Catalogs
By Uri Berliner, ripr.org
Many things made with paper have become relics because of computers and
the Internet: the Rolodex, multivolume encyclopedias, even physical maps.
Now take a look in your mailbox or somewhere around your house. There's
a good chance you'll see a shopping catalog, maybe a few of them now
that it's the holiday season.
"I ignore them," says Rick Narad, a professor at California State
University, Chico. "I get them in the mail sometimes, and they don't
make it into the house. I walk past the recycling bin, and they go right
So why, in the digital age, are they still around?
"Consumers really still love looking at catalogs," says Bruce Cohen, a
retail private equity strategist at the management consulting firm Kurt
The company published an article called "Is the Catalog Dead?" and the
answer was a definitive no. The number of catalogs mailed in the U.S.
peaked in 2007, according to the Direct Marketing Association. It's come
down since then, but last year it ticked up again to a whopping 11.9
billion mailed to addresses around the U.S.
"And what's interesting about that is you even have purely online
companies starting to experiment with printed catalogs," Cohen says.
So the death of print is highly exaggerated, at least when it comes to
Mary Winter, a Binghamton, N.Y., resident who works at a Guitar Center
warehouse, says she loves catalogs; she enjoys marking them up, and the
tactile sensation of thumbing through them at her leisure.
"I typically go online and order them and order whatever I'm getting,"
she says, "or go into the store because it's a little faster, but I
still get my ideas from the catalogs."
Sue Johnson, a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier in Bay City, Mich., has
what you might call the 360-degree perspective. For 28 years she hauled
catalogs and other mail in a satchel.
"It builds up the muscles in your arms," she says. "A lot."
Sometimes she would hand people their catalogs, and they would toss them
out right in front of her. But when Johnson curls up on her couch at
home, it's a different story.
"I'll sit here and read catalogs for hours and just look at stuff," she
says. "Stuff I either wish I had, or maybe something will give me an
idea to make something."
Maybe you're one of the catalog haters, but retailers say there are
plenty of people like Winter and Johnson.
"We look at them less as tools and more as magazines for our customers,"
says Felix Carbullido, chief marketing officer at Williams-Sonoma.
"They've become more editorial. They've become more of a sourcebook of
Those aren't just fluffy marketing words. A Williams-Sonoma analytics
team crunches data to help determine who's most receptive to catalogs,
their size and their content. Versions are tailored to a customer's
purchasing history. Carbullido says the payoff is evident at the
"Our customers come in with the catalog dog-eared and refer to the
catalog as 'this is the style of my home that I'm looking to achieve,' "
That style you've seen portrayed in high-end catalogs is often a
tableau: maybe it's a couch, a bookcase, a couple of rugs, plants,
sunlight streaming into a casually elegant room. Even if you're not
buying, the retailers want you to keep dreaming. And that's one reason
the catalogs keep coming.
Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
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Postal Service Starts Fiscal Year With Growth and a Bang
56% of Google's Online Ads Are Never "Seen"
Here's Why Retailers Keep Sending You Catalogs
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