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Digital Ad Blockers vs Canada Post’s New Smartmail Brand

IMG_2230Last Friday morning’s Globe and Mail greeted me with an interesting juxtaposition of content in their print version of the business section. As I scanned this week’s “Persuasion” article  for marketing tips, Susan Krashinsky’s column about the threat Ad Blockers pose to digital advertising was positioned over a half-page Ad for Canada Post’s new “non-digital” Smartmail Marketing campaign.

If it wasn’t a planned placement by the layout folks, then it was a very lucky one for Canada Post. The top half of the page was the story of how Ad Blockers are impeding digital marketing on our devices and hitting digital marketers right where it hurts.  Then below we have Canada Post taking another shot at grabbing the attention of marketers with photos of a paper catalogue being opened and enjoyed in a stop-action-like grid.  The message Canada Post is sending is clear. People enjoy getting well targeted, relevant content through the mail in paper format.  

Why? The creative is often more engaging than a standard online advertisement. More importantly the “paper interface” is easy to use, simple to save and quickly retrievable. And when people do refer back it can even serve as a doorway to online content and e-commerce.  

Paper works very well with the internet. And it’s compatible with everything. New research is showing that the very physicality of the mail* is what makes actually making  it more effective.

A Norwegian study has shown that students remember more when they study on paper rather than a screen. Canada Post and the Royal Mail recently released some research that actually shows how many more regions of the brain light up when paper is handled, mail is opened, touched, folded, flipped through etc. vs the same content on a digital screen.  

Even more important to marketers recipients tend to value the paper communications more.  There seems to be an innate sense of effort that has been expended to get the communication to their door – make, fold, insert, stamp and send.  So print marketers are rewarded with clients who remain loyal, appreciative, engaged and most importantly… responsive.

It’s hard to be responsive when digital ads are consider them an intrusion that eats up real estate on the screen as it gobbles up chunks of the targets’ data plan. I take no joy – well maybe a little joy – in pointing out how much the complaints about online advertising today sound like the previous decade’s complaints about the volume of ad mail cluttering mailboxes.  But, with less mail in the mailbox, combined with well targeted, segmented and relevant mail, today’s campaigns seem a lot less like junk to the recipient.  

The shotgun approach to mail is long gone.

Interestingly enough, when I went to the online version of the story, the banner ads and sidebar ads were for banks and expensive cars.  Something tells me Canada Post could have also seized the opportunity here for positioning some relevant content to support their story.  But, that is asking a lot, as few organizations are masters of the omni-channel marketing environment and all it’s moving pieces.

Not coincidentally I also received a beautifully styled direct mail piece from Canada Post on the very day that the Ad appeared in the Globe and Mail.  It was one the best looking and well presented business-to-business pieces I’ve received from the corporation.  Maybe they have a new creative agency –  but whatever the reason, it seems they are getting things right as they position themselves as a relevant part of effective marketing communications going forward.

Globe and mail article – A modern advertiser’s anathem by Susan Krashinsky

*Canada Post study – A bias for action

** Nowegian study in ScienceNordic Journal – Paper Beats Computer Screens

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