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Welcome to the Talon Mailing & Marketing January 2015 Newsletter.

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Postal Service Starts Fiscal Year With Growth and a Bang

From: deadtreeedition.com

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.

56% 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 companies.

According to Google, the average ad viewability for a publisher is around 50.2 percent.

"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.

Here's 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 in."

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 Salmon.

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 shopping.

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 ideas."

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 brick-and-mortar stores.

"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,' " he says.

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/.

  Ticket Giveaway!   

Talon has great seats for you to win.

We are giving away a pair of tickets to see the New York Islanders!  To win, be the first telephone caller (please don’t hit reply or email). Voice mail messages count so it's fine to leave a voice mail.   Call Michael Borkan at 631-667-5500 x 11. 

  • Monday January 19th, 1:00PM.  Islanders vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Do you know of anyone else who would be interested in receiving our newsletter?  Please let us know by email:  mb@talon-mailing.com

To learn more about our company, please visit our Web site: www.talon.com or contact Michael Borkan at (631) 667-5500 x 11.

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In this Issue:

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

Ticket Giveaway!

New Clients

Mike Borkan's Links - Web sites you probably haven't seen

View Samples of Our Work

Newsletter Archives

Direct Mail Humor!

New Clients:

Talon welcomes the following new clients this month to our growing roster of customers:

  • Perception Imaging

  • 3 New Lists from Statlistics

Mike's Favorite Links:

Some interesting links...

thescene.com - Watch the best digital shorts, series, and documentaries from WIRED, GQ, Glamour, Vogue, ABC News, Buzzfeed, and many more!

thinkful.com - Thinkful is the online school you need to become a web developer. Build real projects at your own pace with ongoing support from your own mentor.

cssdesignawards.com - Awards the best website designs from solo web designers, studios and agencies with official certificates, trophies and international acclaim.

highrisehq.com - Highrise is a flexible contact management tool that helps you stay organized. It’s easy to import your contacts from any email system and get started with Highrise right away.

curioos.com - Limited editions & signed art prints on canvas, aluminum, acrylic glass & fine art paper. Discover top talented artists & bring the finest of Digital Art to your walls!

flightcar.com - Lets people parking at the airport rent their vehicles out to other approved traveling members. Every rental is insured up to $1 million, and every renter is pre-screened. Members get free parking and a car wash and vacuum. Approved members renting a FlightCar get the lowest rental rates guaranteed, with free insurance, free extras, and no fees. It's free to join.

Work Samples:

Did you know Talon offers the following services? 

Click on the links below to see samples.

Direct Mail Humor!

Click on image below to enlarge.

Do you need help marketing to your clients?   Talon can help!  Call Michael Borkan at 631-667-5500 x 11 to learn how to increase revenue.

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