The Specialist View – Inserts

Specialist advice on how to make the most of today’s media market.

24th August 2023 Read time: 5 minutes
What's happening?

Brands are turning to inserts to drive performance

Despite challenges faced in Q1, insert media continues to be an effective acquisition channel for many direct-response brands to drive consumers online and deliver business objectives.

Canopy Media are industry leaders in the insert market and recently released their Q2 2023 insert market review. The data shows that while the insert market is showing a decline in demand, with the total number of insert campaigns decreasing by 29% YoY, some sectors such as charity and travel are increasing their media spend in the channel.

The charity sector is facing internal and external pressure. The sad fact is that during a cost-of-living crisis, charities struggle to acquire support while also dealing with a rise in demand for their services. As a result, this sector is seeing its marketing performance spend have to work increasingly harder, and they have seemingly invested in a tried-and-tested channel to drive donations, posting a YoY increase in insert activity of 26%.

Charities aren’t the only sector to be increasing investment into inserts; travel reported an increase of 6% in activity. Inserts is a key acquisition channel for travel companies targeting the 50 to 74 market, as shown by increased YoY spend in activity from the likes of Saga Holidays and Leger Holiday. [Source: Canopy Media, Inserts Market Review: Q2 23 vs Q2 22]

It’s also important not to fall into the trap of thinking that inserts are bad for the environment. Print media has proven to be an effective channel for many brands that focus on sustainability and fighting climate change. Paper can be an incredibly eco-friendly material and there are various ways to make print more sustainable. Please speak to your client director to find out more.

Fragmented TV viewing is evolving

Ofcom’s recent Media Nations 2023 report was an interesting read. It provided insight into TV audiences and how a perceived fragmentation of viewing is progressing. However, as with anything, once you look below the headlines, you start to gain context and understand what is truly being communicated.

The Media Nations 2023 report looks at 2022 data comparing media consumption to the previous year. 2022 was the ‘getting back to normal’ year, versus a period of enforced ‘couch potato-ness’ in 2021. Despite this, there is no hiding the fact that TV’s weekly reach has decreased from 91% in 2017 to 79% in 2022; a significant, but unsurprising decline. At the same time, the proportion of UK homes with any subscription video-on-demand (SVOD)  service has doubled to reach 66%. Looking more closely, Amazon Prime Video went from 14% of homes to 45%, Disney from 0% to 25%, and Netflix from 30% to 59%.

Additionally, the broadcasters have actively been pushing viewers to video-on-demand (VOD) platforms. The Media Nations report shows that during a period of decline for the SVOD market, the broadcasters’ advertising-based video-on-demand (AVOD) players grew.

In a nutshell, we’re now entering a period of stability. Average commercial TV viewing is down 2 minutes per day while SVOD remains steady at 35 minutes. While we shouldn’t become complacent, especially with the rise of TikTok and YouTube continuing to post strong numbers, it’s worth remembering that according to Ofcom, 60% of all video viewing in the UK in 2022 was to broadcasters.

Audience-driven activation enables campaigns and plans to be created from a neutral perspective. The ability to contextualise scary headlines and not be tempted to chase the next big thing (such as Netflix’s ad-funded model) centralises our focus on effectiveness. While we are in no doubt that the TV market has fragmented, understanding what is actually being watched rather than merely subscribed to, is fundamental to driving performance. [Source: Ofcom Media Nations]

X Corp launches new level of control for advertisers

Elon Musk’s controversial rebrand of Twitter to X last month is still taking a while to get used to. The rebrand is more than a new name and logo. X has delivered various changes, focusing on creating an engaging and healthy platform where people and brands can connect safely and securely So, what’s new with X?

Launched pre-bid Adjacency Controls to support advertisers and enhance adjacency protection. More than 1,900 global advertisers now leverage this solution to avoid adjacency to undesired keywords and handles with more than a 99% efficacy rate.

X is using industry-leading brand safety partner, Integral Ad Sciences (IAS) to expand their pre-bid brand safety and suitability. This is currently available in the US market only; however, this is soon to launch in the UK and will offer advertisers quality and brand-safe inventory.

Sensitivity Settings is a protection solution that will be coming soon within the Ad Manager to help brands establish the right balance between reach and suitability when it comes to ad placement on the platform.

Enhanced Blocklist for advertisers. In collaboration with industry partners, X has created an automated, industry-standard block list that aims to protect advertisers from appearing adjacent to unsafe keywords in the app’s timeline.

X is continuously evolving, and these new solutions are significant milestones in their continued brand safety and suitability efforts. [Sources: X Business and TechRadar]

What's in store?

Royal Mail postage rate increase

Royal Mail have recently announced that several business and advertising mail products will increase in price from October 2023. These price increases will mean that all Downstream Access Suppliers (DSA) will also be increasing their rates from 2nd October.

Planned increases are as per the below:

Letter format – Naked Mailings – approx. 13% increase

Letter format – Mailmark (Standard) – approx. 13% increase

Letter format – Mailmark (Economy) – approx. 5% increase

For large letter mailings, the increases are set to be similar at approx. 13%.

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