Sunday, December 14, 2008

An Opportunity for Mail in the Decline of Local Media

In recent days, a number of news articles focused on financial troubles across all media modes that depend on advertisers for most if not all of their revenue. While all advertising media are suffering, the economic downturn plus a switch to Internet-based media has pushed print media, and in particular daily newspapers, toward bankruptcy.

As the largest deliverer of print advertising, the question arises: Is the Postal Service facing the same fate, or is there an opportunity in the decline of a direct competitor?

The answer to this question requires that six questions be answered.
  1. What are newspapters doing to cope with change that affects the market for advertising?
  2. How do these changes affect the competitive position of postal delivered advertising and in particular what gaps in advertiser needs are the changes creating that postal delivered advertising could meet?
  3. How well do existing mail-delivered advertising vehicles fill in the gaps that the changes in the newspaper industry create?
  4. Could new mail-delivered advertising vehicles fill in these gaps in a way that these new vehicles will have a higher value to the recipient than traditional advertising vehicles?
  5. Does the Postal Service have operating processes and rate structures that will allow the creation of these new advertising vehicles especially when many of these vehicles may not fit the traditional definitions that define existing mail classes and sub-classes?
  6. Can the regulatory process handle the creation of new Postal products for which any forecast of revenue and volume would be speculative?
Right now the greatest opportunities may exist in those markets where newspaper home delivery is threatened. For example, Detroit's two dailies are talking about ending daily home delivery and only delivering three days a week. Similar opportunities exist in communities with the highest proportion of young, internet-savvy residents where daily newspaper delivery has not taken hold. Now is the time to start developing plans for this new vehicle so that it can launch when the economic and advertising recovery comes in 2009 or 2010