The ABCs of Programmatic Direct Mail

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An Adotas Q&A with Lewis Gersh (pictured left) about PebblePost’s Programmatic Direct Mail service.

Q: What is Programmatic Direct Mail®?

A: PebblePost invented Programmatic Direct Mail® to transform real-time online activity into personalized, dynamically rendered direct mail that’s delivered into postal hubs within 12-24 hours, every day. And, because we start with online activity, we can match a return visit and provide real-time analytics so you can use that daily response and conversion data to optimize tomorrow’s Programmatic Direct Mail every day. In other words, we use data-driven decisioning with high levels of automation to continually enhance efficiency and efficacy.

Q: Why create a new marketing channel now?

A: Unfortunately, what’s happened in digital and exacerbated by programmatic is a heavier reliance on efficiency of ad spend at the cost of effectiveness. Just because you can surround consumers everywhere doesn’t mean you should. Competition among marketers for attention and market share is driving this trend as well. And worst of all, it’s disrespectful of consumers. Consumers shouldn’t need a restraining order for six weeks to look at a pair of shoelaces. When you achieve a balance between efficiency and effectiveness – a la the least number of impressions served to impact ROAS – you have a more respectful relationship with consumers. In other words, we are connecting the power of digital’s real-time intent data with the efficacy and high brand impact of physical media into home.

Q: Who is the ideal marketer and consumer segment for Programmatic Direct Mail?

A:We help marketers in retail and e-commerce re-engage and convert existing customers, email subscribers, and website prospects a.k.a. online window shoppers. We plan to extend to other verticals in early 2017. In terms of an “ideal” marketer, Programmatic Direct Mail is for brands interested in a fresh, relevant, respectful way of continuing the conversation with consumers – alongside their other marketing mix efforts in digital and elsewhere.

Q: Where does Programmatic Direct Mail® fit into the marketing mix?

A: Programmatic Direct Mail is 100% programmatic digital ad spend. Many digital marketers say we invented the first new channel since Search and Social. Marketers work hard to find the right balance of Paid, Owned, and Earned to drive consumers to their sites for content and commerce. Programmatic Direct Mail® enhances those efforts in a new, highly relevant, dynamic and long-lasting way. No one ever taped a banner ad to their fridge, but a Programmatic Postcard™ or our upcoming Programmatic Catalogs™ have a long life span and in-home brand impact that digital can’t match.

Q: What kinds of results are marketers seeing with Programmatic Direct Mail?

A: We’ve discovered that Programmatic Direct Mail greatly enhances the relationship between brands and consumers. Response and conversion rates are outperforming targeted digital and direct mail channels by orders of magnitude, with significantly higher Average Order Value and extremely high ROI. We’re averaging 8% Total Mail Conversion Rates (all mail sent to purchase) and 15x ROAS.

Q: With the rise of ad fraud, blocking and viewability, how does Programmatic Direct Mail address those concerns for marketers and the end consumer receiving the in-home media?

A: We solve several of the biggest problems in digital: viewability, fraud and ad blocking. We are 100% privacy compliant with complete 1:1 transparency. Remember, bots don’t have mailboxes and shop at Bonobos. Imagine how you yourself sort mail. Everyone spends time with the mail, making a stack of relevant mail they must follow-up on. Programmatic Direct Mail® falls into the relevant stack because we’re making a connection to that recipient’s expressed interest and intent, which allows that brand to continue the conversation in a 1:1 and respectful way. What’s even more powerful is the consumer decides when she’s ready to transact. What I mean is, when it’s “situationally” appropriate or convenient for the consumer to act versus digital disrupting the user experience when the situation of the consumer is almost never appropriate. Marketers also benefit from the exposure to other members of the household so the impact for a brand is really attractive.

Q: What do you think is next for digital and programmatic advertising?

A: Most of digital has become today’s junk mail unfortunately. There are surprising parallels between the rise and reset of direct mail and what’s happening in digital today. Everyone has a similar digital experience: privacy invasions, stalking, overserving. It’s more abusive and disrespectful than junk mail ever was. When you can’t load the comments to a travel site because of all the ads, that is the equivalent to stealing your time. I do believe that history will repeat itself in that a digital market reset is likely to happen, probably around privacy.


About Lewis Gersh

Lewis Gersh is a founder, Chairman and CEO of PebblePost. Prior to PebblePost, Lewis founded Gersh Venture Partners (later Metamorphic Ventures), one of the first and largest seed venture funds in the country, focused primarily on B2B marketing and ecommerce technologies. The fund specialized in retargeting, ecommerce and database marketing. Prior to Metamorphic, Lewis founded and ran Worldly Information Network, a database direct marketing company that published on over 40 topics and delivered upwards of 1 billion email newsletters through both O&O and network sites. Lewis has served on many corporate and non-profit boards, and is an accomplished endurance athlete, having competed in many Ironman triathlons, ultramarathons and parenting. He has a BA from San Diego State University and a JD and Masters in Intellectual Property from UNH School of Law.

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