Neither the Internet nor smartphones can hold advertising mail down. Even with digital advertising growing at a rapid pace over the past 20 years, advertising mail has kept its same share of the market — around 10 to 12 percent.

What’s advertising mail’s secret?

Well, besides the fact that advertising mail is more tangible than digital, the Postal Service has found ways in recent years to make advertising mail more attractive. For example, the Postal Service now offers promotional discounts for mailers that embed mobile barcodes on their mailpieces. This also provides an interactive experience for the recipient and gives mail extra “pop.”

With advertising mail generating $19 billion in revenue for the Postal Service in fiscal year 2015, the organization needs this good news story to continue. But it may not unless the Postal Service acts now to further modernize its offerings and keep pace with the digital revolution, our latest white paper, Advertising Mail Innovations, finds.

The paper looks at two ways the Postal Service can innovate its ad mail offerings to engage senders and recipients in this changing advertising landscape. First, the Postal Service should continue integrating digital technologies with advertising mail. For instance, the paper highlights a potential mobile coupon platform hosted through the USPS Mobile app that would let consumers scan coupons received in the mail and store them digitally. As the use of mobile coupons grows, a Postal Service-sponsored mobile coupon platform could provide an incentive for advertisers to keep sending paper coupons.

Second, the Postal Service should work with mail service providers to provide online tools to make advertising mail more accessible to small businesses — only one-third of which use advertising mail for marketing purposes.

The ideas presented in the paper are not exhaustive, but they build on our previous work to provide examples of the types of innovation the Postal Service should continue exploring.

Share your ideas with us. Have you used the Postal Service to send advertisements, such as flyers, brochures, or coupons? If so, how was your experience? What other innovations could help ad mail grow volume?

Comments (8)

  • anon

    Please provide a way for residents to manage or block unsolicited advertisements and unwanted mail. It clogs up my mailbox and is bad for the environment. Not to mention the fact that it is completely wasted on me- it goes directly from my mailbox to the recycling bin just on general principal.

    Feb 04, 2018
  • anon

    I will be refusing all USPS mail by not picking it up from outside mail box, from now on, until delivery of all junk mail stops. I stopped USPS delivery for all bills/set electronic, all parcels (UPS, Amazon prime or Fedex only), I setup USP mail box, and I no longer need your service. USPS will eventually be put out of business by its decision to harasss and inflict nuisance on customers (taxpayers, who decide if this organization should even exists), after making a choice to start mass junk mail distribution. I'm not your garbage service.

    Jan 08, 2017
  • anon

    That's why government organizations should be funded exclusively by taxes; not even donations should be allowed.

    Dec 21, 2017
  • anon

    The only ones benefiting out of this annihilation of the system is the USPS. They could care less what the consumer has to deal with; we are the low ones on the totem pole. If they are going to inundate us with these worthless mailings, they should be required to have an opt-out/do not contact list that they must adhere to. Because these mailings make my first class mail susceptible to crime in my locking mailbox, I for one am going to download the Form 1500 on the USPS website (they informed me it is for " all intrusive" not just what the title of the form states it is for). I have had my identity stolen before - it is devastating. I for one, have documented every single phone call, letter and computer contact. If my mail is stolen again at the hands of one of these worthless media fliers after I have documented proof that they have been contacted, warned, and am on FOUR do not contact lists, I will file a lawsuit against them, to include all the other entities that are involved with the process. For me, this is not a junk mail issue, this is a mail fraud, mail theft, identity theft, identity fraud issue. Make the post office work for you. Use the mail hold system and hand over to the individual at the counter all the junk mail when you pick it up; let them dispose of it. Or, forward your mail to a close friend or family member that is local and vice versa. Only first class mail is forwarded. Lastly, start doing everything paperless, the less paper that moves through the system, the less money they make. If I am made desperate enough, I will remove my mailbox altogether. You only need one day in between the mail hold 30 day l limit to start the process over. Make that day a Sunday.

    Dec 04, 2016
  • anon

    I have recently been receiving junk mail that no longer even has my name or address on it, so there is no way to opt out of receiving it through the various methods available (i.e. Companies seem to be able to just pay USPS to deliver a copy of their mailer to every person in a zip code as a blanket service. I was always told mail had to have an address on it, but it seems in order to prevent people from opting out and continue delivering junk mail for the extra revenue, USPS has created a system with which it can do both. This type of forced mail should not be allowed and it is, quite frankly, ridiculous that such a system was allowed to be implemented. We all know USPS was going broke and had to innovate, but it shouldn't be at the expense of regular people that don't even want the junk mail. To increase revenue and become a sustainable organization by forcing a product most people don't want down their throats under the cloak of a "universal service obligation" is not a successful business model.

    Sep 20, 2016
  • anon

    It difficult now that everything is becoming digital. Online Advantages Miami helps for those in transition from traditional marketing to online.

    Sep 14, 2016
  • anon

    I enjoy reading through your article post. Really Glad to read this. Thanks a lot for sharing such a great post.

    Sep 13, 2016
  • anon

    Could I have my mail all set for drop off at my physical address

    Sep 12, 2016

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