Mere ink-on-paper advertisements are so last week. Cutting-edge ads, including direct mail, involve interactive features that were once limited to slick websites. How about something the size of a postcard that uses radio waves to send detailed product information to your smartphone and lets you to buy the minute you want to? Or a piece of mail that has an embedded, paper-thin video screen that you can control?

The first example is called near field communications, the second a type of electronic mail (which is not at all the same as email). They’re just two of 10 technological innovations for enhancing advertising mail that we examine in our recently released white paper, Mail Innovations. One way or another, they each leverage technology to provide far more information about a product – and are far more engaging – than advertising mail of yore.

Some are already in use. For example, home-furnishing giant Ikea’s catalog contains pages with codes you can scan with a smartphone so you can get a better look at something. Let’s say you’re interested in a particular chest of drawers; scanning the page code puts the dresser image on your screen and lets you “open” the drawers to see inside. This innovation is known as augmented reality.

New mail enhancements can also transmit relevant data back to the sender – data such as which items you looked at most. This helps the sender tailor future advertising mail to your particular interests. And the U.S. Postal Service is trying to encourage mail advertisers to use these innovative features by offering promotional discounts on postage when they do.

Let us know what you think. Are you more inclined to open and scan something with an interactive feature? What type of included or embedded innovative technology would hold your attention? 

Comments (3)

  • anon

    I'm excited just getting mail...even though it's mostly junk and bills. One thing that might get people more excited is if they could tell their neighbors that the mail arrived today. I'm beta testing a new webpage that allows people to do that. It's called and I wrote it specifically to address the trend toward cluster mailboxes that are sometimes quite a bit of a walk away from the front door.

    Oct 15, 2014
  • anon

    The only thing that would make me excited to check my mailbox these days is for the following: 1) A copy of the termination of our letter carrier; 2) A copy of the termination of out local post office management; 3) Reimbursement for the packages that have been stolen from outside my door where the letter carrier "claims" he left my packages... against my continued expressed wishes for years!!! Yeah, right. Like that's gonna happen. You people don't even investigate and/or take corrective action. But hey, it isn't YOUR loss, it's MY loss. And why would you care with Congress having your back instead of the consumer?!

    Oct 07, 2014
  • anon

    I haven't received the digital technology mail yet but, I would welcome the opportunity to learn more about it.

    Sep 22, 2014

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