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Programmatic Paperplanes come knocking - how direct mail is embracing the challenge for change


By Dani Gibson, Senior Writer

October 23, 2017 | 6 min read

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The use of programmatic media trading technologies began as a means of monetizing otherwise remnant display ad inventory on the web, but as the use of such technologies becomes mainstream online, progressive minds are now taking this revolution to more traditional media channels. The Drum’s Programmatic Punch conference will explore this being used in direct mail.


Programmatic Paperplanes come knocking - how direct mail is embracing the challenge for change

It's clear that Daniel Dunn, founder of the programmatic direct mail agency Paperplanes, believes that everything doesn’t come down to digital.

Ahead of a panel session on programmatic technologies being applied in areas beyond the internet, Dunn explains how direct mail is making a comeback and how it creates stronger bonds and experiences with customers on a physical level, which brings back the sense of touch.

Why are you starting such a business in an era defined by digital?

Digital has transformed how marketers can communicate to customers but despite all of the advantages it has brought we have lost the ability to engage senses such as touch. Touch leads to a longer brand recall, it creates a stronger emotional bond between the customer and the brands. That is a driving factor great reason as to why we are seeing this renaissance period for email.

The traditional method of batch and blast and sending out the same creative to a big group of customers needs to be supplemented with new innovations. Companies, like Paperplanes, who can begin to utilise creative relevance and personalisation to drive incredible responsive direct mail to customers will prosper.

We know that mail is staying at the customers home for up to 17 days, which is most likely why it is driving the impact and results that it can in a programmatic space. It's the fact that, yes, it is relevant to personalised content [which can now be driven on direct mail] but it is also staying in the customer's home and staying at the top of their mind.

How do you see programmatic infusing with more traditional channels?

Programmatic is still a young industry. It's only really been going for 10 years and it has already gone through a lot of changes.

The honeymoon period has passed, whereby everyone was utilising programmatic and were excited about the opportunities that could come through automation with little understanding of impact.

There are a couple of different scenes on the horizon, one being first-party data and plugging it into re-targeting and how we plan and buy programmatic. This is going to be key moving forward.

What we will see more of is the utilisation of programmatic capability and technology into traditional channels. Marketers will begin to demand a lot more measurement from their media buying. When fluid transparency and visibility issues are put aside, I think that is what programmatic allows. The ability to measure the impact that your campaigns are having.

In your opinion, what has been the most cutting-edge application of programmatic media buying technologies in recent months?

Naturally, that would have to be one of our initial trials of our own recent programmatic direct mail campaigns that we have triggered through Paperplanes. We worked with one of the largest eCommerce retailers looking to complement their programmatic strategy who had never previously utilised direct mail. We followed up customers falling out of the online customer journey with highly personalised content mailed out the next day. We doubled the typical response rates the brand sees from email and online retargeting, leading to wider rollout across their portfolio of brands.

What would be the key piece of advice for brands/agencies in applying programmatic media buying technologies beyond the web?

First and foremost, we need to be utilising all marketing channels. Let’s not turn ourselves away from any opportunity that a marketing channel can give. I have heard a lot of brands talking about how they only execute digitally, which is all well and good, but then they close themselves off to opportunities if they aren't looking at the value that can be driven from the other marketing channels.

We all need to ensure our data is in a good place. This is going to be particularly relevant to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) around the corner. Everyone needs to ensure they have a good grip on their data, that permissions are in place and everything is ready to go for when GDPR actually hits.

What should delegates take from your panel?

My big wish for the panel is that the delegates come away from it realising that programmatic applications are now available across the entire marketing mix. For too long the industry has worked in silos where inventory or capability is planned or brought in an isolated way. We now have the opportunity to plan programmatic applications across entire marketing portfolios.

Programmatic Punch is great as it brings together a vast array of brands, different skill sets and disciplines into the one place to discuss relevant trends and demonstrate what is possible. What I like about events like Programmatic Punch is the fact that it encourages us all to come away from the day to day and gain a bit of perspective on the wider trends in the industry.

Programmatic Punch discusses the hot topics and issues, explores what is new in the industry and puts to the stage the experts that are pioneering the way in programmatic.

Tickets are available for the event on Thursday 9 November at the Congress Centre, Bloomsbury, London.

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