Welcome to the Talon Mailing & Marketing July 2013 Newsletter.
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Display Ads Often Not Visible
By Suzanne Vranica, The Wall Street Journal
An astounding 54% of online display ads shown
in "thousands" of campaigns measured by comScore Inc. weren't seen by
anyone, according to a recent study.
Don't confuse "weren't seen" with "ignored." These ads simply weren't
seen, the result of technical glitches, user habits and fraud.
The finding implies that billions of marketing dollars are being poured
down a digital drain. Last year, $14 billion was spent on online display
advertising, estimates eMarketer, 40% of all online ad spending.
Advertisers can blame both technical snafus and more nefarious factors for
ads going nowhere. Technical issues include ads being displayed on part of
a browser not open on a computer screen—such as when an ad appears at the
bottom of the screen and surfers don't scroll down. Another problem: Some
ads load so slowly that the Web surfer switches off before the ad comes
up, says comScore.
And then there is fraud. A significant number of display-ad "impressions"
often paid for by marketers are based on fake traffic. Malicious software
makes a website think a person is actually on a page and ads are served up
to that fake visitor. In other scams, ads show up on several Web pages but
they are hidden behind a window on a website that is the size of a pencil
point, according to comScore.
Tod Sacerdoti, who runs video-ad company Brightroll Inc., puts the
proportion of fake display-ad impressions at 30%, accounting for 10%-15%
of all display-ad revenue. That proportion doesn't include video, where
fraud is a smaller but growing issue, he said.
Google has attempted to stamp out fraud, according to ad
executives. Google, which owns DoubleClick ad exchange—a marketplace for
buyers and sellers of ads—has invested in tools to measure and remove fake
Web traffic to ensure ads are "being viewed by real people," said Mr.
Online measurement tools introduced two years ago, including an ad-tagging
system used by comScore have made marketers more aware of how many of
their display ads aren't being seen, giving them the ammunition to agitate
Using comScore's technology, ConAgra Foods Inc. learned that its display
ads were served up in non-viewable areas of the website roughly 30% of the
time. ConAgra's ads sometimes reached its preferred demographic—women aged
25 to 54—only about 30% to 40% of the time. Its online video ads were
hitting the right target roughly 50% of the time.
"We were shocked to see what was out of view and when we go after a
certain demo what is not hitting a certain demographic target," said
Heather Dumford, global marketing manager at ConAgra, whose food brands
include Hunt's, Wesson, Banquet and Bertolli, among others.
ConAgra is now demanding that all its display-ads deals come with some
sort of guarantee from publishers that their ads will be visible to the
human eye and/or its online video and display ads will be seen by a bigger
swath of its target audience. Ms. Dumford said ConAgra will make sure that
a Web publisher runs ads as many times as it needs to ensure that it gets
the correct amount of viewable ads it has paid for.
Kellogg Co., similarly, found that "up to half of the ads never come into
view," said Aaron Fetters, director of insights for the cereal maker.
Last month's study was prepared by comScore, using its ad-tagging
technology. It said the study showed wide ranges in how different websites
perform when it comes to ad "view ability." Premium sites, that is, more
popular sites that have at least $100,000 in monthly ad revenue, generally
performed much better than ads that marketers have bought through some ad
networks and exchanges, which place ads on dozens of websites across the
Web, comScore said.
ComScore deems an ad visible when at least 50% of the ad is visible for at
least one second on laptops and desktop computers. For the study, comScore
said it measured about 76% of the ads directly using the tagging method
and projected the remainder of ads because its technology can't measure
some of the ads.
The study doesn't include ads that appear on mobile devices such as
smartphones and tablets, which have their own set of challenges when it
comes to measurement and visibility.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau, the trade group for Web publishers,
declined to comment on the comScore study, saying it hadn't seen it. The
IAB said, however, the industry is working on a "uniform way of measuring
if an ad is viewable." To improve an ad's prospects for being seen,
publishers have been experimenting with new page layouts and site
redesigns, the IAB said.
In April, Google Inc. said it received accreditation from the Media Rating
Council, which also accredits comScore's measures, for a technology called
"active view" that allows marketers to "know when and for how long your
ads were viewable on a consumer's screen" and allows them to pay only for
Website visitors are more than twice as likely to click on ads that are
viewable for more than one second versus ads that are viewable for less
than a second, Google said, based on its data.
Marketers have been using the data from comScore and Nielsen Co., which
can measure if ads are hitting the target, to tweak ad campaigns, during
the weeks and months the ad effort is up and running, by moving ads around
a page or to different websites.
Unilever said that, after going back to publishers and requesting changes,
its ads are reaching between 70% to 80% of its target audience, whereas
previously it was reaching just 30% to 40%, as measured by Nielsen.
ConAgra has also seen dramatic improvements.
"Improvement can be continued through ongoing monitoring, conversations
with publishers," said Jennifer Gardner, Unilever's director of media
investment for North America.
Spark, a media buying firm owned by Publicis Groupe said it is now asking
that all its display ad deals come with some kind of "viewable" guarantee.
Basics of Successful Direct-Mail Marketing
Barbara Morris, Lifehealthpro.com
Direct mail is a proven, reliable method that employs time-tested
practices to generate substantial results.
Social media and web marketing may have their names in
lights at present, with a lot of focus shifting to digital marketing. But
that doesn’t make it the best option for every audience. For example,
only 45 percent of seniors have Internet service, while those who do use
email have become savvier at filtering sales messages. Because people
readily abandon email accounts due to spam overload, today’s solid email
leads can become tomorrow’s waste of time.
But next to the ever-changing landscape of digital marketing stands that
old faithful: direct mail. Direct mail is a proven, reliable method that
employs time-tested practices to generate substantial results. If you can
craft a message that creatively places the right information in front of
the right person, direct mail can deliver a powerful return on your
Here are the three basics of successful direct-mail marketing:
1. Make your list and check it twice.
Just buying lumps of leads won’t give you the same results
as building your own direct-mail campaign. Expert list technology, which
filters data based on your specific needs, will produce more refined
results than a random blast of data you can only hope is current and
correct. “Pray and spray” marketing will never be able to compete with a
thoughtfully planned-out campaign designed to target a specific group of
people with information that interests them.
2. Make it personal and engaging.
Direct mail doesn’t have to be a boring, impersonal card
or letter that’s destined for the trash. Thanks to sophisticated
marketing software and digital printing, savvy marketers are
personalizing messages and engaging prospective customers in new and
creative ways. For example, there are envelopes that catch the eye and
engage the reader with customized teaser copy, highly customized pieces
that can include the addition of handwritten notes and vivid brochures or
inserts that showcase the in-depth details of your message.
3. Offer incentives.
High-quality direct mail is not only packed with relevant
information, it also entices the reader with an irresistible deal. By
adding value with a discount, bonus gift or free trial, a good piece of
mail focuses on the recipient and encourages him or her to say yes. This
tangible, real-world value adds weight to any offer and makes a bigger
impact than can be achieved through a strictly digital approach.
Just because direct mail isn’t the newest technique in the book doesn’t
mean it isn’t relevant. It can be a fantastic way to reach prospects who
are difficult to reach via email. Even though online marketing is new and
shiny, direct mail — that old reliable — is still an impactful way of
putting your compelling sales message into your prospects’ hands.
Strategies For Improving Your Outer Envelope
By Robert W. Bly
Tests have shown that
varying the outer envelope can increase or depress response rates by 25%
to 100% or more.
It’s not uncommon for a marketer to invest a tremendous
amount of time, effort, and money in a new direct mail package, and then
create the outer envelope almost as an afterthought.
That’s a mistake, because tests have shown that varying the outer envelope
can increase or depress response rates in an A/B split – even if the
mailing inside is identical – by 25% to 100% or more.
Here are 9 important outer envelope factors to consider when putting
together your next mailing:
1. To tease or not to tease? We
use outer envelope teasers because we think the strong teaser we have
written will increase response.
But there are times when a teaser – even one we think is strong – has the
opposite effect and actually decreases response.
Some marketers argue that the purpose of the teaser is to get the
recipient to open the outer envelope. But a blank envelope from a stranger
gets opened every time: you want to know what it is and who it’s from.
So why use a teaser at all? Copywriter Bob Matheo says the function of a
teaser is to create a positive expectation for what’s inside the envelope.
Recommendation: If you can’t come up with compelling copy for the outer
envelope, don’t use a teaser. If you have a teaser you think is strong, do
an A/B split test of a teaser vs. no teaser. Then roll out with the
2. Who is it from? The corner
card – the sender’s name and address on the outer envelope – tells the
reader who the letter is from.
Let’s say you are doing a mailing to sell subscriptions to an investment
newsletter. The letter could be from the editor (Ron Gurian), the
publisher (Capital Financial Media), or the publication itself (Tech Stock
The corner card copy is not trivial, and should be tested. One publisher
had just the name of the editor and the publishing company in the corner
card. When they added the name of the publication, it depressed response
3. Company letterhead or plain envelope?
When the recipient gets an envelope with the logo of a company he does not
know, he suspects that he is getting promotional mail and is therefore
less likely to open the envelope, read the contents, and respond.
To avoid this from happening, you can omit your logo and set the company
name and address in the corner card in plain type, such as Helvetica or
When your company or brand is well known, using your corporate logo may
lift response. IT professionals, for instance, are likely to read a
mailing from IBM because they think it may be important technical or
A number of mailers type the name of the person who signed the letter in
New Courier above the logo, so it looks as if it was typed on the envelope
by hand. Those who have done it tell me the technique increases their
4. Paper stock and color? In a
test, a mailer did an A/B split of their control using a kraft envelope
vs. a white envelope. The white envelope outpulled the kraft envelope by
This does not mean that the rule is “white always outpulls kraft.” It does
mean that outer envelopes matter and you should test.
Agora Publishing’s long-time control for International Living mailed in a
white #10 envelope. When the control threatened to tire, they revived it
by taking the entire package, putting it inside a kraft envelope with a
cover letter, and mailing it that way.
5. Size? Test different sizes:
Monarch, #10, #11, #14, 6 by 9 inches, and the 9 by 12-inch jumbo. In
direct mail envelopes, size does matter, so this is worth testing. A
common result is that the jumbo lifts response over the #10, but not
enough to make it profitable. Exceptions? Tons.
6. Stamp, meter, or indicia?
Conventional wisdom says that best to worst, in order of preference, is a
stamp, then a meter, then a preprinted indicia. Some marketers report a
lift in response when using commemoratives and other unusual stamps.
Another technique I’ve seen work with a jumbo mailing is to use multiple
low-denomination stamps to reach the total required for postage.
7. First class or third class?
Direct mail that sells a product via mail order is almost always sent
third class because of the economics. However, if you are doing
lead-generation mailings to business prospects using just a letter in an
envelope with a reply card, and your universe is small, first class may
lift your response.
8. Window? Should you use a
closed-face envelope? Or should you use a window envelope?
Test. The advantage of a closed-face envelope is that it looks like real
personal or business mail. The advantage of the window envelope is that
the recipient’s name and address can be imprinted or affixed to the reply
element, which is positioned so that they show through the window –
eliminating the need for the customer to write in his own name and
9. Bulk? Should the envelope be
flat? Or should you make it bulky, and therefore arouse the reader’s
curiosity, by putting something inside it other than paper? The marketing
director for a national nonprofit told me that all of their
best-performing packages have “heft” created by a small, enclosed object,
such as a crucifix or necklace.
When I worked for a manufacturer of wire mesh used in chemical plants, we
dramatically boosted response by enclosing an actual sample of the wire
mesh along with our sales letter (actually, we designed the letter as a
faux shipping tag and attached it to the sample). The teaser on the bulky
envelope read: “Your FREE mesh mist eliminator enclosed.”
Enclosing an unusual object works especially well when you plan to follow
up each package with a phone call. A contractor sent a brick with his
business card silk-screened on it. When he called to follow up, he told
prospects, “I’m the guy who sent you the brick.” He almost always got
About the author:
Robert W. Bly is a freelance copywriter and
the author of more than 50 books including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to
Direct Marketing (Alpha). His e-mail address is
firstname.lastname@example.org and his Web
site address is www.bly.com.
Win Yankee Tickets!
Enjoy a great day at Yankee Stadium!
We are giving away two tickets to see the New York Yankees.
you have to do to win is be the first telephone caller (please don’t hit reply or send an email). Voice
mail messages count so it's fine to leave a message. Call Michael Borkan at
(631) 667-5500 x 11. These tickets are great seats and close to the field!
Tuesday August 13th, 2013. Yankees vs.
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Web Display Ads Often Not Visible
Three Basics of Successful Direct-Mail Marketing
9 Strategies For Improving Your Outer Envelope
Mike Borkan's Links - Web sites you probably
View Samples of Our Work
Direct Mail Humor!
Talon welcomes the following new clients this month to our growing roster
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Mike's Favorite Links:
Some interesting links...
asana.com - Asana is the shared task
list for your team. The place to plan, organize & stay in sync.
skillfeed.com - Professional
training video tutorials on creative and technical skills.
CreativeCriminals.com - A
blog with a daily variety of creative and unique advertisements from
around the world.
NeverColdCall.com - Bestselling
author Frank Rumbauskas shows you the secrets to never cold calling again.
funnyordie.com - Funny or Die is a
comedy video website founded by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay's production
chordify.net - Turns any music or
song (youtube, soundcloud, mp3) into chords. Play along with your guitar
or piano and get into the groove.
smore.com - The days of posting a flyer
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