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Increase in third party inserts stems media decline

Third-party distributions grow and magazines remain resilient, while newspaper inserts continue to decline, according to the DMA.

Magazine and third-party distributions are taking a larger market share than last year, according to research into the inserts industry conducted by the Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA).

The DMA’s Annual insert industry report 2017 found that the total number of inserts has reduced by 12.5%, from 4,554 million in 2015 to 3,984 million in 2016. 70% of this decrease came from a drop in newspaper inserts, while magazine and third-party insert volumes have remained steady.

According to the report, inserts industry has declined by 18.8% since 2014 although the third-party channel has actually increased over the same period by 9.8%. Recent statistics from the National Readership Survey highlight that consumption of National Press through mobile devices has increased by 17% since last year, going some way to explaining the decline in newspaper insert volumes year-on-year.

Ben Briggs, deputy chair of the DMA Print Council and Planning & Brand Partnerships Director, Response One, said: “As marketers of print media we shouldn’t necessarily view this report with gloom. Although we will undoubtedly continue to see print circulations decline as the consumption of press moves online, inserts face a real opportunity to increase their cut-through through innovation, creative thinking and playing to the strengths of the medium – making impactful, tangible connections and delivering great ROI.”

The upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force in May 2018 means a possible shift away from digital will make inserts a more favourable alternative, especially as online retail, subscriptions and auto-replenishment services are increasingly common. Inserts continue to offer a viable alternative to direct mail. As data protection legislation tightens, inserts give advertisers the opportunity to reach an audience without handling their personal data.

Briggs continued: “Even if print media volumes decline in light of GDPR, inserts still have a crucial role in the marketing mix due to their impact and tangibility. When a consumer flips the pages of a newspaper over breakfast, ponders a creative DM piece they’ve picked up off the doormat or luxuriates with a glossy lifestyle magazine, that experience is real, relevant and undeniably engaging.”

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