How Marketers Are Responding to the Global Paper Shortage

Direct marketing is arguably the way forward. To be an effective omnichannel brand, print marketing efforts should be included in your strategy. In fact, did you know that there is 400% effectivity of marketing campaigns that combine print and digital ads? (source: Finances Online)

Additional Stats to Keep in Mind:

  • – 95% of people under 25 read magazines
  • – 82% of consumers trust print ads the most when making a purchase decision
  • – 70% of households with income over $100K are newspaper readers
  • – 92% of 18–23-year-old adults say it is easier to read print than digital content

Most importantly, 80% of consumers acted on targeted printed mail ads, and 77% of consumers said that print drives higher levels of recall (source: Finances Online).

As you know from last week’s blog post, we are experiencing a global paper shortage. So, even if you want to launch a direct mail or print marketing campaign, can you do it? The answer is a resounding yes.

A Few Ways That Marketers Are Responding to the Global Paper Shortage:

  • – Page count and circulation fluctuations
  • – Increased use of direct mail (less paper)
  • – Clever interplay between offline and online efforts
  • – Digital natives turning to print in new ways (NTF, trigger, loyalty, and retargeting campaigns)
  • – Short and long-term adjustments to marketing cadence
  • – Willingness to try new things

What’s Next:

Traditional ad spending set to increase, which is a demand driver. After 10+ years of decreases in traditional ad spending, marketers are predicting an increase of 1.4 to 2.9% in traditional media. Traditional channels – TV, radio, and print – outperform digital channels in terms of reach, attention, and engagement, relative to costs. In fact, the top five most trusted ad formats are traditional with print advertising at 82% and direct mail at 76% (TV and radio as well) (source: MediaPost).

Tips for Smart Paper Buying:

  • – Make quick decisions
  • – Be open to grade substitutions and alternative substrates
  • – Look for the “sweet spots” such as basis weight, finish, location, and trim
  • – Improved forecasting and budgeting
  • – Level ordering
  • – Assess whether inventory programs make sense
  • – Spot vs. contract buying
  • – Maintain a sourcing strategy
  • – Pay your bills

Container prices are decreasing – specifically marginally by 0.1% to $7,625.56 per 40ft. container (source: Drewry’s composite World Container Index).

We are hopeful for a more balanced market in 2023. In the meantime, ask us about our tips for smart paper buying!-old 

paper industry

A Status Update on the Paper Industry

Today’s paper market themes include price increases, mill allocations and late deliveries, low inventory at the mills, rising input costs (pulp, labor, energy, chemicals, freight), machine conversions, surcharges, and port congestion and container shortages.

Where We Are

  • – Global pulp prices are up 20% in the last four months. (source: RISI Fast Markets)
  • – Input costs are still on the rise.
  • – U.S. trucking market is softening slightly.

How We Got Here

  • – Pandemic
  • – Issues with supply & demand
    • Port congestion
    • Schedule reliability
    • Warehouse congestion
    • Container imbalance, congestions, and chassis shortage
    • Rail car shortage (especially in Canada)
    • Trucking challenges
  • – Rising input costs
  • – Supply chain issues

Forces Impacting Paper Logistics / Supply Chain

  • – Russian invasion of Ukraine (impact of Russian sanctions)
  • – Economic uncertainty:
    • Weakening consumer confidence
    • Inflation and rising interest rates
    • Reversal of quantitative easing
    • Phasing out of COVID-19 stimulus
  • – U.S. midterm election
  • – ILWU contract negotiations this summer
  • – Additional COVID-19 lockdowns in China
  • – Potential strikes and associated logistics congestion
  • – Energy costs

Understanding where we are and how we got here is imperative in determining how we can move forward. Stay tuned for next month’s post featuring how marketers are responding to the global paper shortage. There will be bonus tips for maximizing your brand’s success.


A man holding a remote control while watching a ski jumping on TV.

Why Direct Response TV Today

So many of the headlines we see in the marketing industry are about Connected TV (CTV). Don’t get us wrong – we’re just as excited about this channel that’s growing at an exponential rate. In fact, so many of our clients have experienced success that we published a blog post on why CTV should be in your media mix today.

Today, TV remains the most dominant share of viewership in the country, which is why CTV has soared in recent years. However, cable, broadcast and satellite are not to be overlooked. Specifically, Direct Response TV or DRTV, allows brands to efficiently reach large audiences at scale, and can be differentiated based on the national or local market. In fact, marketing professionals today still consider DRTV to be the best asset for achieving marketing goals.

We thought it would be helpful to provide a refresh on DRTV, and why it is strategic to test the channel in 2022 and beyond.

What Is It?

It’s Cable. It’s Network. More specifically, Traditional Direct Response TV closely monitors the response directly following an advertisement. These are the ads that not only drive brand awareness but sales. 

How Does It Work?

There are various forms that should be applied to different goals.

If you’re interested in raising brand awareness, Short Form is the way to go. It is any commercial two minutes or less.

If you’re interested in driving response with your campaign, we also recommend :60s and :120s for optimal conversion rates.

Why DRTV Today?

Cost-Effective: The marketplace is fluid and inventory is based on supply and demand. But, the rate structure is lower than the general market.

Measurable: It is entirely measurable – CPC, CPO, CPM, CPP, CPS, MER, ROI, CPR, IMP, ROAS – and in-week optimizations are available.

Ideal Timing: There is flexibility to get on air quickly and the ad is cancellable within three business days. Media is optimized in real time based on the client’s primary KPIs.

Let’s have a conversation about video buying in terms of linear and advanced TV. Why not add CTV into the discussion!? Enhancing your omnichannel strategy with DRTV and CTV (and more!) will contribute to your brand’s future success.


Path to Conversion

Everyone’s Talking About Attribution: Top 5 Things To Know

At Media Horizons, we are focused on data driven marketing for a people-based solution. People-based marketing, according to Forrester, is “the ability to perform targeting and measurement at the level of real individuals by resolving consumer identity across all digital and offline channels.”

For the last 30+ years, our “secret” is placing emphasis on intensive data and analytics to ultimately grow our clients’ businesses. We were thrilled to host a webinar series this spring on data & analytics. Thank you to everyone who participated!

Our Strategic Lead of Business & Marketing Intelligence, Kunick Kapadia, led two sessions featuring our tips and tricks for optimizing Google Analytics as well as what you need to know about attribution today.

We thought it would be helpful to put together key takeaways for anyone that could not join us.

Key Takeaways

(1) While there are so many different attribution models available today, Last-Touch is the most used model. If you are using Last-Touch, keep as many variables consistent as possible for accurate results (i.e., keep lookback window consistent, etc.).

(2) Algorithmic attribution is our recommended model. In our opinion, it is most accurate in determining which channels are adding revenue to your business. However, it requires a high volume of data. So, if you are not spending a fair amount in digital then it’s important to note it may not be as effective for your brand. Let’s have a conversation!

(3) Online to offline attribution is a pain point for many companies today. As a reminder, this is when a behavior begins online, but is completed offline. As marketers, our goal is to tie this conversion together. It can be challenging, but we know how to solve for it using tactics and best practices related to geo-tracking, CRM integrations, and call tracking. Ask us how!

(4) Without an attribution model (or a poorly built one), upper funnel media are hurt most. This includes brand awareness and prospecting marketing such as display, new customer outreach via paid social, non-brand paid search, etc.

(5) Our world is changing, and new technology is coming to help us adapt! It’s important to stay on top of today’s changing landscape with privacy and cookies. By staying on top of this, you will be able to more seamlessly integrate or pivot as the landscape changes. We recommend relying on your agency partners to help you stay in the know.

We look forward to discussing all things data & analytics with you!   

Intelligence (BI) and business analytics (BA) with key performance indicators (KPI) dashboard concept.StartUp Programming Team. Website designer working digital tablet dock keyboard.

Top 5 Tips for Maximizing the Value of Your Google Analytics Data

At Media Horizons, we are focused on data driven marketing for a people-based solution. People-based marketing, according to Forrester, is “the ability to perform targeting and measurement at the level of real individuals by resolving consumer identity across all digital and offline channels.”

For the last 30+ years, our “secret” is placing emphasis on intensive data and analytics to ultimately grow our clients’ businesses. We were thrilled to host a webinar series this spring on data & analytics. Thank you to everyone who participated!

Our Strategic Lead of Business & Marketing Intelligence, Kunick Kapadia, led two sessions featuring our tips and tricks for maximizing the value of your Google Analytics data as well as what you need to know about attribution today.

We thought it would be helpful to put together key takeaways for anyone that could not join us.

Key Takeaways

(1) Google Analytics can be overwhelming! Before you log into your dashboard, we recommend having an idea or focus of what you want to glean from your analysis. This will help you avoid getting lost in the maze of data housed in GA.

(2) Don’t ignore “Segments, which are a subset of users broken out in GA based on a specific set of criteria (i.e., users who converted, users who bounced, etc.). Using “Segments” in reporting is a powerful way to gain more insight into user behavior and identify optimization opportunities. Pro Tip: You can also build audiences using “Segments” for use across other marketing channels.

(3) Invest time into UTM best practices. UTM parameters are extremely important because it is how naming conventions are entered into GA.

  • – Consistent architecture and naming conventions will help you maximize value because reporting will be more efficient and accurate.
  • – Capitalizations matter.
  • – Use all 5 of GA’s UTM parameters as often as you can.
  • (4) When assigning goals, keep in mind that they should be very important actions on the website that you can track. With the complimentary version of GA, you are only permitted 20 goals, so be strategic with how you used them! Pro Tip: Goals are more friendly and flexible than events when it comes to reporting in GA, so you want to use them instead of just events for those key user actions.
  • (5) Data sampling is the key difference between GA360 and the complimentary version of GA. In regular GA, the larger the report you run, the smaller percentage of data is based on actual user data and the more is based on sampled data, which reduces accuracy. GA360 utilizes data sampling in a much smaller number of instances and also has more advanced integrations with other Google and third-party platforms. But it comes with a hefty price tag, so choose wisely between free GA and GA360.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on key takeaways from our second session in the webinar series: “Everyone’s Talking About Attribution: Here’s What You Need to Know.”


Why Is Insert Media Still So Relevant Today?

With 2022 well underway, there are still so many unknowns in terms of post-pandemic consumer behavior — are changed behaviors here to stay? Brands continue to launch omnichannel strategies hoping for the best possible outcome with growth and sales.

Insert Media has been a highly responsive media channel for over half a century. It’s a tried-and-true channel that is not only reliable, but it’s cost-effective. However, here’s why it is still so relevant right now:

1. The Tight Paper Market

With press and paper shortages, companies utilizing catalogs and direct mail face several macro challenges today (in addition to those mentioned above!). In fact, leading supplier of print and packaging, Lindenmeyr Central, recently reported: “Paper supply has never been tighter.” Brands that rely heavily on direct mail for Acquisition need alternative solutions. Since Insert Media involves smaller formats and therefore uses less paper, it is easier to get paper for this channel than others.

2. Cost-Effective, Targetable and Measurable

In marketing, response is everything. After all, our goal is to earn your brand more revenue — in a cost-effective way. Moreover, a brand’s performance with Insert Media is similar to Direct Mail at a fraction of the cost. Insert Media is targetable based on a brand’s audience. It can then be measured to determine the impact of the media on a brand’s campaign. This high-level of traceability will ultimately help your bottom line.

3. Implied Endorsement

In our post-pandemic world, partnerships are more popular than ever. Not only do they offer exposure to new audiences, but the shared resources are ideal. Helping brands with category or product expansion and customer loyalty, the power of partnerships is real (source: Shopify). With Insert Media, there is an implied endorsement — like partnerships — and trust is further established given that your brand’s insert is included in another company’s communications.

4. No Privacy Concerns

In today’s marketing landscape, privacy concerns are top of mind. As we continue to navigate our way through privacy issues with other channels, the great news is that there are no privacy concerns for Insert Media.

5. Different Types to Fit Your Brand’s Needs

From catalog blow-ins, package inserts, shared mail, onserts, and single-sheet inserts to statement inserts, there are many different types of Insert Media. Whether you’re a high-end retailer or mid-ticket company, there are Insert Media strategies for each brand. Whether you’re a high-end retailer or a mid-ticket company, there is an Insert Media strategy that fits your brand.

If you’re looking for new channels for your brand, get in touch with us today and discover all that Insert Media has to offer.


Strategic Marketing Leader, Mark Friedman, Offers Catalogers and DTC Brands Tips For Making 2022 Their Most Successful Year

Recently, we sat down with strategic marketer, Mark Friedman, who has driven growth in the competitive digital marketing space for 25+ years. From Brooks Brothers to Warnaco–where Mark ran businesses for Speedo, Calvin Klein Underwear, and Calvin Klein Jeans–to Steve Madden, FullBeauty Brands, and Amerimark Holdings, Mark has led the charge in driving traffic to stores, websites, or phones, and optimizing conversion of that traffic for both offline and online brands.

In our latest discussion with Mark, we talked about how marketers can maximize their success in 2022. With so many macro factors at play–from the supply chain, pandemic, and consumer behavior to new technology–the playbook is being rewritten both for catalogers and DTC brands.

According to Mark, here are ways that catalogers and DTC brands can make 2022 their most successful year yet…

1) If you’re digitally native and not currently using DM, test it out!

Testing any form of Direct Mail (DM) will optimize your omnichannel strategy. You may try different forms, or just one–either way, direct mail increases customer engagement and therefore, will help drive response and brand awareness.

If you have already been in the mail with catalogs (or currently are!), you are likely experiencing the stress of paper shortages and press concerns. DM is a viable solution for this problem–and we can support the execution. 

2) Analyze “changed” consumer behavior.

As we all know, COVID-19 has created new customer behavior, changed brand loyalty patterns, and increased digital adoption. However, several brands have reported that the new customers acquired during the pandemic are similar to those they had been acquiring in the past.

This tells us that current customers are incredibly important. What are you doing to retain all these customers? It is especially important to focus on customers who have not purchased a second time.

Overall, we recommend strengthening your marketing message o those who have not yet purchased a second time. In fact, we have a new solution that can help you with exactly this. Connect with us to learn more.

3) Double down on new customer acquisition.

As we just discussed, retention is always an important factor. But, even if you move the retention rate significantly, most businesses are still going to need 60-70% of their buyers in any given year to be new.

The most successful DTC marketers are successfully employing a broad media mix including paid search (brand and non-brand), display, affiliate marketing, retargeting, social (organic and paid), email and SMS, and marketplaces.

4) Realize that online is everything.

While some brands may view themselves as “offline” or “catalogers,” the web is where everyone needs to be. Of course, there have been several changes recently with the iOS 15 updates, Facebook adjustments, and more, but it is important to think about all the data that is still captured online. With more first-party data, loyalty programs can excel, preference centers can strengthen customer relationships and optimal site speed will not only drive higher conversion, but the customer experience will be enhanced. There is an opportunity for offline brands…online. 

5) Reevaluate your shipping methods.

The rising prices from shippers and increased number of backorders cause more split shipments and packages per order and therefore, the net freight expense as a percentage of your net sales is likely going up.

Brands must manage the current situation. You may do this by revising the value of a free shipping offer and the hurdles you use. Look at the methods for how you ship. If you have stores, how are you leveraging the store fleet (i.e., ship from store) based on where shipping costs may be lower? This may even help reduce the ship time for customers.

6) Be realistic about today’s supply chain and pivot.

Order earlier than you ever have before. Often, you cannot make changes once the orders have been placed due to lead times. Some questions to ask: Can you accept backorders? If not, can you build that capability?

Now is the time to focus on the innerworkings of your brand. What can you afford to shift? What is not adding to your success right now? Answering these questions honestly and realistically will benefit your bottom line.

7) Rely on your building blocks and best practices.

When in doubt, always rely on your foundational building blocks. Nobody knows your business better than you. Therefore, you can determine what to change and continue most efficiently. From this standpoint, it is all about the details. For example, can you extend a contract for a reduced price? Are there services that you can do without? Two words: Be relentless.

We hope you enjoyed Mark’s insight for how to add success for your brand this year. No matter your product or service, the recipe is the same. Whether we’re talking about macro trends, your unique strategy or tried and true best practices, Mark believes “the devil is in the details.” That said, we’re looking forward to collaborating this year and beyond!


Bring It On, 2020-Too

As we enter the New Year, we can’t help but think of the newest popular saying: “2020 – too.” Get it? Beginning last month, several news outlets published their marketing predictions for this year by looking back at 2021 successes and failures as well as industry-leading brands. From increased customer loyalty to an emphasis on personalization, marketing in 2022 is surely unprecedented. Can you believe we’re using that word again?

Rather than add to the list of articles about predictions (though we are always happy to share if you are interested!), we thought it would be helpful to provide current scenarios and what they mean for your marketing strategy in the next few months and beyond.

Current Scenario 1: Brick-and-mortar closures due to not enough employees available to work.

This is likely due to several factors, but mainly people contracting COVID-19 (or having experienced exposure) and that people have found new work elsewhere. Reuters reported a record 1.35M COVID-19 cases on Monday, January 10th, which was the new single-day high (source: CNBC). Additionally, a record 4.5M Americans quit their jobs in November (source: SHRM). Whether this is a result of finding higher paying jobs, relocation due to the pandemic, or something else, bricks-and-mortar are suffering the consequences.  

What This Means for Your Marketing Strategy: Your target audience may not be what it once was. People are adapting to bricks-and-mortar closures in different ways. Some are becoming more brand loyal; some are finding other solutions and some are developing new habits. It may be time to revisit your house file, reevaluate your top earning channels and discover new marketing tactics (PS: Are you familiar with our New to File Direct Mail program? It helps with exactly this. Reach out here to learn more).

Current Scenario 2: Privacy Concerns, Apple’s iOS Updates, and More…Signal Upcoming Tech Changes.

From privacy concerns and Facebook’s policies changing social media, technology modifications like Apple’s iOS updates affecting email marketing, Google’s algorithm adjustments affecting SEO, to Instagram’s new focus on video, marketers’ tech stack is shifting.

What This Means for Your Marketing Strategy: Marketers must rely on partners–to be the most cutting-edge, to understand the latest laws and best practices–to continue driving your omnichannel strategy forward.

Current Scenario 3: More Channels for Consumers Than Ever Before

Since 2020 (and arguably even before), there has been a theme of disruption. The pandemic stimulated widespread digital adoption, facilitated changed consumer behavior, and impacted the supply chain. Each day, we are dealing with the impact that these changes have had on our businesses.

What This Means for Your Marketing Strategy: Marketing will continue to be a challenge. In fact, Forbes reported: “Marketing is getting harder, and there’s no end in sight…numerous disruptive changes have dramatically impacted marketing and advertising in the last several months.” However, while people are consuming more channels than ever before, marketers may also utilize this opportunity to test new channels, find new customers and thus, drive success.

In looking at the above current scenarios, we hope your mind isn’t spinning, but if it is, lucky for you we understand the marketplace. With our 30+ years of industry experience, we know the ins and outs of this landscape. At our core, we are flexible and adaptive, which is how we help our clients daily. While we do not know what the future holds, we do know how to grow your customer base and thus, revenue using our building blocks: open communication, sharing and collaboration, innovation and problem solving and personalization. We look forward to collaborating with you this year


Building Blocks: 2021 Holiday Season Learnings

As marketers, we understand that the landscape is changing daily. From branding to promotions, best practices are constantly evolving. In the last few months, we have posted about the all-important holiday season in terms of planning for it and selling successfully. With the holiday season underway, we wanted to provide a roadmap for the last few weeks of the year – to ensure you close it out successfully.

(1) Attempt to Clear Any Excess Inventory to Protect Margin

  • – It is important to remember that the work is not over once the holiday season is here. In fact, it is a critical time to ensure you end the year in a profitable way.
  • – Analyze what is left in stock, and what you can promote right now (or in early 2022). Build a post-holiday marketing calendar and campaign to stimulate sales.
  • – Use your hard-won list growth from the holiday season and continue the conversation with customers. Tip: ignite a sense of urgency!
  • – Use both personalized marketing and bulk tactics.
    • – Examples include an exciting subject line that is transparent or show products that are on sale in emails. Better yet? Personalize emails with previously viewed items that are now on sale or abandoned cart positioning.

(2) Reflect & Learn to Stimulate Growth in 2022

  • – Dedicate time to learn and document your wins / losses while they are fresh in your mind.
  • – Reference your calendar with campaign reporting. Observe traffic, measure results and identify selling trends. Record your marketing successes; use them for future planning.
  • – Assess your inventory and determine:
    • – Were your best sellers those that you expected them to be?
    • – Were different items more popular?
    • – Were there more items that needed to be discounted than you thought?
  • – Use tools like customer surveys to help with marketing decisions for next year.

As you can tell, our themes are absorption, education, and growth. We believe that evolution is the key to success – especially in this ever-changing retail landscape. Most importantly, this evolution will trigger success. We hope you are having a successful holiday season and look forward to even more prosperity in 2022!

Information sourced from Mailchimp eCommerce Masterclass Series. 

Consumer Behavior Unknown

How Post-Pandemic Consumer Behavior Is Impacting Companies’ Success

I vividly remember someone saying to me, “I really do not think anyone is going to work out in a gym ever again.” Two weeks ago, Peloton’s stock plunged more than 35% in a day and last week, it fell another 11% likely because of the decrease a few days earlier (source: The Motley Fool). In contrast, Equinox’s stock increased last week (source: Market Watch). At-home fitness soared during the pandemic, but people are reverting to gym workouts.

While we all understand that consumer behavior has been changing rapidly – mainly due to the pandemic the last 2 years – the bottom line is that many of the behaviors that did transform are seemingly changing back to what they were pre-pandemic. While some brands may have benefitted from the pandemic, others are now experiencing the success they once did. As they say, “old habits die hard.”


As the U.S. recently eased international travel restrictions, airline stocks soared. CNN Business reported, “US airline shares take flight.” Moreover, the JETS ETF (holdings include Delta and American airlines) climbed 11% this month. Virgin Atlantic reported that flights were 98% full. In fact, by July 2021, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported that domestic air travel was back to pre-COVID levels. New trends arose such as U.S. travelers booking outdoor activities, visiting rural destinations, and reserving private vacation rentals (source: NPR). We will see if some of these pandemic-related trends are here to stay!

Meal Delivery

While grocery stores and big box retailers are still experiencing the effects of the supply chain, meal delivery services such as Door Dash, Grub Hub, Postmates, Uber Eats, and meal prep services are up. In fact, sales for meal delivery services grew 17% YOY (source: Bloomberg Second Measure). With consumers traveling more and working in different locations (gasp…at the office?!), it is expected that meal delivery services will continue to experience an uptick due to people being “on the go.”

Video Conferencing Tools

Beginning in July, daily average users for Zoom were down by about a third from the year prior, to 44.3M from 49.3M. Since then, Zoom app downloads also decreased (source: Barrons). During this time, 74% of businesses reported that they were bringing employees back to the office (source: Inc). While the power of video conferencing has been incredible (and useful!), it cannot replace in-person meetings and get togethers entirely. More than 8 in 10 executives prefer in-person meetings, specifically sharing that they create the right environment for timely decisions, difficult discussions, and stimulate more strategic thinking. In fact, research shows that face-to-face meetings are 34x more effective than email conversations – and 35% of the discrepancy in a team’s performance directly correlates to the number of times that the individuals spoke in-person (source: Washington Post). 

Apparel & Accessories

The pandemic created an athleisure boom. While the business casual and athleisure segments were climbing in popularity pre-pandemic, it is obvious that the pandemic created an acceleration. In 2020, the athleisure market yielded about $105B in sales (source: CNBC). Post-pandemic, we are seeing marketing efforts tailored to comfortable workwear and items that can transition from working remotely to the office, and back. Transitional items such as stretchy work pants and unique sneakers are more popular than ever. For example, Athleta now has a “Travel and Commute” section while J.Crew’s new holiday section features cashmere and velvet sets to dress up or down, and Bonobos includes “E-Waist Pants and Joggers” on their website. Brands continue to tailor not only their products but marketing efforts towards new consumer behaviors. 

As Bob Dylan and The Band sang: “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” Not only do we understand the marketplace, but we know your customers. From shopper marketing, data & analytics, creative services, to direct mail and insert media, we have the expertise to tailor your marketing strategy to these changing times.