At least digital tablets stop the magazine insert cards from falling out

Now that Motorola has its Xoom on the market, and RIM is ready to take orders for its new PlayBook tablet in April, Apple’s iPad will have to stand up to some competition after having the market all to itself for just over a year.

As more and more magazines utilize digital tablets as a method of distribution much has been made of the reader experience in reading magazines on tablets. Despite the killer technology few publications have truly embraced the tablet medium for all it is worth by using video links, photo links and in so doing providing a much more rich experience for readers.

I don’t yet have a tablet (but I am thinking about it and getting the iPad is most likely) but have seen a few of the magazine applications on tablets and often they look like magazines on a digital flat screen. Nice but nothing earth shattering.

One advertising medium that many people will not be sad to see go is magazine insert cards (there are two kinds 1) the bind-in which is either stapled into the book or glued to the spine, or 2) the blow-in which really is blown into the magazine with air so that it floats loosely inside). The cards have been a part of magazines for as long as I can remember- that’s more than forty years and I bet it’s longer than that. In fact I tried to find out when magazine insert cards were first put into newsstand and subscriber publications and had some difficulty finding any information I could be confident was correct.

Our company has produced more than a billion insert cards (both blow-in and bind-in but almost no smelly ones for fragrance companies) over the years. Clients like to use them because – they work. Those of us in the business know that the magazine (or book as we like to call it) is ‘broken’ which is to say it opens where the cards are inserted and stops the reader even if momentarily. A corresponding advertisement with the bind in offers the reader and opportunity to respond in a number of ways. By phone, over the web by using a landing page or personal URL (PURL), or even to call a phone number listed on the card. Different phone numbers are frequently used for different publications so that we can accurately track response by individual publications.

But that cannot happen in a digital publication. Of course ‘interruptive media’ like a bind-in card can be done as a pop-up in a digital magazine but the effect is decidedly less impactful. As more and more people adopt tablets to read publications what will be lost to marketers is an opportunity to stop the reader and allow them the chance to reply when they want – now, later or never. The plus side is that people will no longer have to complain about ‘annoying bind in cards’ that are seen as a waste of paper (true if you are not interested in what is being offered). But I bet people will complain about something else. They always find something.

Have you ever responded to blow-in or bind-in cards in magazines?

About markkolier

Futurist, entrepreneur, left lane driver, baseball lover
This entry was posted in Communication, Marketing stuff, Media, Technology and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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