Custom 'Printfomercials' Are in the Mail

Imagine a late-night infomercial where the bubbly hostess mentions you by name, then refers to previous items that you’ve purchased. I might jump off the couch if I heard that, thinking I was dreaming. Yet a similar approach for the print medium is being carried out almost daily, as inkjet presses produce more and more custom printfomercials. Keep reading to find out how 16-page, full-color, variable-data inserts and glossy, personalized onserts were produced for 300,000 selected readers of Popular Mechanics magazine.

The innovative concept was so successful that publisher Hearst has created similar four-color campaigns, on coated paper, in Harper’s Bazaar with advertisers such as Christian Dior, Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, and Neiman Marcus. “There are more [programs] in the pipeline,” reports Doug Sexton, manager of global publishing market development at Hewlett-Packard, which provides the inkjet web hardware for the Hearst custom print jobs. Particularly encouraging, Sexton added, is that “the [image] quality is high enough for high-end fashion retailers.”

Over the past five years, production inkjet printing has made significant inroads into the transactional printing, direct mail, and book publishing market segments. So what’s next? As print costs continue to drop and image quality improves, fuller coverage and coated media are keys to production color inkjet. The promotional publications market looks promising. Several marketers already are bringing “magalogs,” such as Hearst’s, to life using a powerful combination of customer data and inkjet technology.

Improvements in print quality and media range, especially matte and glossy media, have opened new opportunities for customers in what HP calls “high-volume general commercial printing”, says Aurelio Maruggi, VP and GM of the firm’s Inkjet High-speed Production Solutions (IHPS) division. “The idea is to marry the benefits of digital, in terms of customization and personalization, with the high-volume productivity that was previously only possible with offset technology,” Maruggi explains. “The result is the ability to do mass customization. We anticipate this to be a big area of growth for production inkjet,” especially as cost-per-thousand continues to drop.

Kodak also offers super-enhanced inkjet image quality with its new Prosper 5000XLi Press, launched earlier this year (in February). The “i” stands for Intelligent Print System (IPS), a press-management technology that ensures the highest quality output. IPS is designed to process thousands of press inputs that measure imaging performance and detect variations. The technology combines inline video monitoring and advanced software controls to enable real-time adjustments that refine and optimize color quality. IPS tracks and evaluates pages, then makes adjustments, as needed, to the more than 100,000 inkjet nozzles in each system.

“The Prosper Press Platform is a high-performance solution for a range of digital printing applications, such as direct marketing, commercial print, and publishing,” says Will Mansfield, marketing director for Kodak’s Inkjet Printing Solutions. “The high speeds and large volumes these presses offer make it more important than ever to ensure the highest performance and quality throughout the print run. Automatic monitoring and on-the-fly adjustment of printing parameters do just that—enabling printers to achieve very high image quality and excellent color-to-color registration on a wide range of media, including glossy.” This improvement also is achieved regardless of image content, web speed, and environmental conditions, Kodak states in its official announcement that introduced the press.

The Prosper 5000XLi model features the fastest, most accurate writing engine on the market. Newly formulated, nanoparticulate pigment inks are matched to the press’s writing system, offering greater durability on coated papers, and a color gamut up to 30 percent wider than offset printing. To help ensure crisp, readable output, the press also features a new text-enhancement feature.

Mercury Print Productions in Rochester, NY, an early adopter of inkjet printing for commercial and book printing applications, has been beta testing the new device. “This is a press to build and grow a business with,” reports its president, Christian Schamberger. The Prosper 5000XLi became commercially available in February 2013. Existing customers with 5000XL models can upgrade to the XLi, Kodak says.

 

Inkjet and Web-Offset Hybrids

On the imprinting side, the replacement of older continuous inkjet printing technology has occurred faster than projected, reported research firm IT Strategies. While final figures are not yet available for last year, 2011 projections were exceeded by some 160 percent ($200 million actual). Kodak cited placements of more than 400 of its new generation S-series imprinting print heads.

As the inkjet-web installed base continues to grow, along with the high adoption rate of color imprinting (despite the fact that adding color costs three times more), IT Strategies expects about 10 percent more growth between now and 2016.

Another contributing growth factor is that print heads now can be installed on mail table/inserters, according to IT Strategies’ research.

Highly relevant content is supported by two major proof points. More targeted print can reduce mailing costs and yield higher response rates. Mini mailers are popular among automotive industry marketers for educational and entertainment purposes, Kodak’s Mansfield notes, as many marketers move away from static, full-page catalogs and less sophisticated direct mail and postcards.

The Kodak Prosper S10 System is designed to enable part-page and full-page variable print inline at full speeds with a web-offset press or web finishing line. With process-color capability, print and marketing service providers can leverage the specialty printing capabilities of offset—including metallics, heavy color saturation, scratch-off coatings, and other specialty inks—to create a high-value product that can be customized with process color imaging inline at high production speeds. This is ideal for direct mail pieces, catalogs, and other custom publishing solutions, Kodak contends.

“Car companies are using the magalog format to communicate with owners and leasees,” Mansfield says. Content changes are based on demographic and sociographic information, such as age, geographic location, and interests. Outdoor enthusiasts use their sports utility vehicles differently than family minivans, he points out.

Literally hundreds of millions of such pieces were produced last year by mega commercial/direct mail printer Japs-Olson in St. Louis Park, MN. The 106-year-old firm has played a major role in the evolution of on-press personalization, migrating from Kodak Versamark technology to its Prosper S series imprinting system in its 750,000-square-foot plant. The company had annual sales of more than $134 million in 2012, and increasingly more of the nearly one billion pieces it produces annually are highly customized. Its president, Michael Murphy, believes in the power of print, having studied at RIT under professor-turned-industry-guru Frank Romano.

CEO Mike Beddor cited the example of a national retailer selling automotive parts. Every week, Japs-Olson prints, imprints, and mails two million to four million digest-sized (5.5x8.5-inch), case-bound, personalized mini-catalogs ranging between 12 and 20 pages each.

Variable information includes recipient names, nearest store location, special offers, QR (quick response) codes, and even maps using geodemographic coding.

“One store may be offering a car wash discount on page 13, while other stores want to promote different services on different pages,” Beddor said. “In Minnesota in February, they may have had a surplus of windshield ice scrapers they are trying to sell.”

These weekly, custom print runs are accomplished on the Prosper S Imprinting System, which uses Kodak Stream Inkjet Technology and its Versamark CS410 System Controller to provide the highest quality in the inline digital printing product line. S10 imprinting speeds of up to 1,000 fpm match those of a web offset press and web finishing lines. (See separate article, “Fat Bottlenecks in the Digital Bindery,” on page 23.)

Four-inch print swaths “leave ample ‘real-estate’ space for multiple products, part numbers, and regionally based offers,” Beddor says. Two dozen S10 print heads were installed in mid-2010, when Japs-Olson added its second 24-page, eight-unit Goss Sunday 2000 press. The inkjet heads print on both sides of the web. “Our full web presses are decked out, top and bottom, with these heads—24 on a side,” he noted. His firm also employs S heads on its Harris M110 mini webs, he adds, “and everything in between.” (Japs-Olson runs a total of 16 web presses.)

While Beddor freely discusses offset press iron, inkjet heads, and other hardware used for this type of customized print production, the CEO was more hesitant to reveal any “secret sauce” when it comes to how Japs-Olson manages the data side of the process. “Let’s just say it’s a combination of vendors’ and homegrown solutions,” he offers, adding that program success is dependent on high-quality, end-user data.

The hybrid, variable print technology is ideally suited for retail chains and franchise organizations, says Beddor, whose automotive parts customer has some 3,000 stores. Japs-Olson also prints six-page, folded mailers for the same client, which targets car dealers to subcontract various services, such as tune ups.

“The volume on those is somewhere between 500,000 and 600,000 [weekly] with anywhere from 300 to 3,000 different versions,” he explains. Data is broken out by Chevy dealers, for example, and the variable printing, again, can include information such as maps, store hours, and even special incentives for tires or brakes, including corresponding photos, of course. Japs-Olson’s CMYK S20 heads from Kodak are twice as fast (2,000 fpm) with 600x300 dpi resolution, vastly increasing the possibilities for variable imaging, he adds.

In more sophisticated applications, “Database marketing can be used to reveal what has not been done,” Beddor says. “Perhaps the recipient’s car is due for transmission service, for instance. There also may be a personalized redemption card, with a barcode, that they can peel off.”

There now is an even faster Kodak cousin: the 3,000 fpm Prosper S30 Imprinting System boasts one of the highest speeds in the industry for “hybrid” offset/digital printing applications. Competitor HP also offers Print Module Solutions that provide an economical, module-based system for web offset printers to add color images, graphics, and variable data to pre-printed pages. These can print up to 800 fpm and include complete workflow solutions for integration with existing equipment. A stitching feature extends the printing area for additional flexibility and scalability. Kyocera is the other leading manufacturer of inkjet imprinting heads, according to I.T. Strategies.

 

Astounding Potential

The so-called turnkey inkjet production systems market is some three times larger than imprinting’s $200 million, and it is expected to nearly double to $1.2 billion within three more years. According to Maruggi, HP’s T series of presses now “has an installed base of more than 80 units and more than 24 billion pages printed to date. Every month, this number is growing in excess of 1.3 billion pages,” he says.

Meanwhile, customers used Kodak’s latest Stream inkjet technology to print some 10 billion pages in 2012, an uptick of nearly 50 percent over 2011, reports Mansfield, who is based in the firm’s Dayton, OH, location—the former home of Scitex Digital, which Kodak sold in mid-1993 and reacquired in 2004.

“Four years ago, uncoated media and ‘pleasing color’ were the norm” in the production inkjet space, Mansfield recalls. (See separate article, “Coated Paper Chase,” on page 19.) Notably, a fourth color Kodak Prosper 5000XL press was installed last year at Toppan Forms, after a trio was added the year prior, as part of the firm’s personalized solution for the educational publishing market in Japan.

Kodak’s 5000XL inkjet web press brings offset-class output approaching 175 lines per inch with roll-fed speeds of up to 650 fpm. It features a monthly duty cycle of up to 90 million A4 pages and is able to handle both uncoated and coated papers, including glossy, with basis weights ranging from 45 gsm to 300 gsm (30-pound to 200-pound). This combination of speed and quality makes the Prosper one of the most productive inkjet web presses on the market for eight-, 12- and 16-page signatures, Kodak says.

Yet when comparing the Kodak press to that of HP, its primary competitor, the two OEM technologies could not be more different. (See box.)

Fujifilm has seen education-related inkjet applications as well, including “short runs of college textbooks for a specific year and professor,” says Peter Vanderlaan, marketing director for Commercial Graphics. Its new JPress 540 W (web) model—featuring a 21.3-inch print width, 328 fpm speeds, and soon-to-be 1200x1200 dpi resolution—can be seen at the PRINT 13 show in Chicago this September. “We’ll have 11,000 square feet, the second booth in from the entrance,” he notes.

Vanderlaan reports that some 20 units of Fujifilm’s half-size JPress 720 now are in production worldwide since its introduction at drupa 2008. Sensing inkjet’s eminent growth, the OEM had bolstered its equipment offerings with three acquisitions: UK ink manufacturer Sericol Group in early 2005 and printhead manufacturer Dimatix in mid-2006. Also, Fujifilm Imaging Colorants was created when Avecia Inkjet, a spin-off from ICI in Scotland, was purchased in early 2006.

Xerox, too, has been buying—early this year it gobbled up inkjet press manufacturer Impika to complement its CMYK CiPress piezo drop-on-demand, waterless solution. Xerox has been selling the French firm’s aqueous systems in Europe for two years, so it is familiar with the technology for maintenance and support purposes. Impika’s product line includes iPrint continuous-feed production printers that boast speeds up to 1,230 fpm and iPress high-quality systems, which can print at up to 2400x1200 dpi.

But it was an acquisition 13 years ago that really set the inkjet table for Xerox, when it bought Tektronix’s color printing and imaging division and its ColorStix solid ink inkjet technology. (Remember the Phaser?)

At drupa last year, there was strong interest in the CiPress 500 with German printer CW Niemeyer Druck purchasing the system to produce individualized magazines, direct mail pieces, and catalogs. “Since the CiPress prints on the same substrates as our offset presses, we…no longer need to use expensive coated substrates,” says the firm’s director Joachim Glowalla. The digital press uses water-free ink based on a granular polymer resin, which is melted in the printhead and then applied in liquid form onto the paper. Through this technology, untreated, low-cost substrates can be printed, according to Xerox. “It allows us to put down a lot of ink on a page without distorting the sheet,” explains Graupman, VP and GM of Xerox’s inkjet business team. In 2013, CiPress 500 and 325 models became available as a single-engine duplex device.

Print-to-One, CW Niemeyer’s variable data/imaging subsidiary, has been producing direct mail and other marketing pieces on its CiPress 500 since last July that mimic the look and feel of offset print on uncoated, matte stock. Reportedly, for an international ad agency client, Print-to-One is producing direct-to-mail catalogs featuring six-page covers with foldouts that have up to 64 different customizable fields. After it is aqueous coated, the cover wraps around offset-printed body pages. Quantities range from the high hundreds of thousands to the low millions.

“Another European customer is producing hundreds of thousands of stand-alone direct mail co-marketing with distributors for branding [purposes],” Graupman notes, adding that the three-panel roll-folds feature 60 to 70 variable elements. Research has proven, he said, that variable applications can garner 400 to 500 percent higher response rates versus static campaigns.

 

Changing the Rules of Advertising

Marketers large and small can learn valuable lessons about inkjet’s potential from an open-minded magazine publisher which initially bought into the magalog concept three years ago. It was partly the vision of Dale Williams, operations VP at print service provider Strategic Content Imaging (SCI), Secaucus, NJ. Williams was not convinced by the doom-and-gloom predictions people were making about the future of print media. The other out-of-the-box thinker is Jim Cioban, CEO of data-driven marketing partner Cierant Corp., Danbury, CT, who wasn’t drinking the Kool-Aid either.

Why not leverage data from hundreds of thousands of subscribers to create high-value, low-cost personalized magazine advertisements, they asked? Why not use customization to drive subscribers to online content tailored specifically for them? Why not use these tools to create more effective and measurable marketing campaigns? The two men put their heads together and began to change the rules of print advertising.

“If you want to reach a few hundred thousand people, and you only have 40 hours to print and ship, you need something like the power of the HP Inkjet Web Press to get it done,” says Williams. He and Cioban began talking with Jeff Lovelace, director of business development at print service provider O’Neil Data Systems (ODS) to work out technical and logistical challenges. A long-time HP user, ODS has locations in Los Angeles and Plano, TX.

The trio then brought their idea to Hearst Magazines. “Hearst was very receptive,” recalls Lovelace. “They understood very quickly how this could impact the longevity of publishing a traditional magazine.”

That’s no small buy-in. The unit of Hearst Corp. is one of the world’s largest publishers of monthly magazines, with 20 US titles and more than 300 international editions. (The company publishes 24 magazines in the UK through a wholly owned subsidiary.)

In the winter of 2010, it began developing the Hearst Personalized Advertising Platform by bringing together SCI, Cierant, ODS, and offset print production partner Brown Printing, based in Waseca, MN. The proverbial door to one-to-one print advertising had been cracked open.

It is interesting to note that while the overall number of magazine subscriptions is shrinking, many consumer magazine categories with a demographically consistent readership have grown over the past decade or so. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of bridal publications increased by more than 233 percent, ethnic publications by 117 percent. Travel and regional interest periodicals also grew. Hearst is intimately aware of these statistics, along with this one: A Dynamic Logic study of advertising return on investment (ROI) found that magazines ranked first in driving purchasing intent among all media options. Magazines also were the top medium, on average, for helping drive web searches across all age groups, according to market research firm BIGresearch.

Hearst knew that the potential to reach readers with high-quality, personally relevant advertising was out there, but traditional offset printing made incorporating variable data cost- and time-prohibitive. Prior digital printing technology could not cost-effectively print at the volumes needed for a national magazine. However, wider high-speed inkjet web presses have changed the game: With full-color, 100 percent variable content printed at up to 400 fpm, the HP T300 Color Inkjet Web Press can meet the quality demands of an offset-printed magazine. The T300 can also produce hundreds of thousands of personalized pieces within the publishing industry’s short printing windows, says HP. The T350 model is even faster, with color speeds up to 600 fpm.

Not coincidentally, HP’s printing business stepped up as the guinea pig, becoming the first to advertise through the program. Science/technology monthly Popular Mechanics (circulation 1.23 million) was a natural fit. Brown began printing the now 111-year-old PM and four other Hearst titles two years ago: Food Network Magazine, Esquire, Marie Claire, and Town & Country.

 

Inserts + Onserts = Magalogs

The Hearst/HP team formed a campaign that ultimately produced customized advertisements for 300,000 subscribers in the nation’s 12 largest metropolitan areas. It included personalized “onserts,” printed by SCI, which harnessed the power of the HP T300. “Onserts make addressing easier,” notesDoug Sexton, who heads up global publishing market development at HP.

The ads featured full-color name/address variable data printing with photography of regional landmarks, such as San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, as well as QR codes and personalized URLs that drove readers to an online sweepstakes for a chance to win an HP consumer printer.

The campaign also included a 16-page, regionally customized insert printed in full color by ODS using the HP T350. Two targeted, eight-page signatures featured information about HP technology and product innovation and provided subscribers with details on where to buy products locally. It also employed QR codes and URLs to drive readers to Web landing pages that enhanced the printed content. Cierant programmed all the websites and QR codes to match each of the 300,000 individual subscribers. To integrate that and other personal information into the printed collateral, SCI and ODS used front-end solutions, including communications management software HP Exstream.

“It’s the computing power on the HP Inkjet Web Presses that allows this number of pages to come off the press in the right order, fully variable, [and in] four-color,” SCI’s Williams says.

ODS printed the 16-page insert first: 4.8 million total pages. Two weeks later, after the latest subscriber information had been compiled, data for the onsert was sent to SCI with just 48 hours to complete the job. SCI met the deadline with time to spare.

Finally, Brown bound the digitally printed signatures with the offset printed signatures, applied the onsert, inserted the mailing into a polybag, addressed, and mailed the November 2011 issue of Popular Mechanics. The concept of personalized advertising that bridged print and online media was put to the test. How would recipients respond?

The Popular Mechanics onsert generated a response rate of more than four percent, with 15,228 sweepstakes site visits—exceeding the typical one percent to two percent response rate for direct mail. Mobile platforms accounted for 39 percent of site visits, reports HP’s Sexton.Hearst was also able to track the response rate according to the 12 targeted metro regions, which allowed the company to see how different parts of the country responded to the messages. This level of tracking also creates the potential for publishers to alter Web content midstream to adjust for response demographics.

“HP technology allows us to offer another level of personal engagement, and we’re thrilled with the results we’ve seen from this first phase of the partnership,” says Michael Clinton, president, marketing and publishing director of Hearst Magazines. “It places a new premium on the value of print advertising.”

According to a custom VISTA survey administered by Affinity Research through PM, readers responded positively to the advertising approach, delivery method, and the HP-branded content. Seventy-four percent viewed HP as “innovative” for delivering a personalized message to them through the onsert, and 82 percent saw the insert as innovative. More than three-quarters of readers reported that they enjoyed reading the content, and two-thirds wanted to see more programs like this one in Popular Mechanics.

“Unlike more generic campaigns, this type of personalized advertising delivers specific metrics, so companies know what return they’re receiving on their campaign spend,” adds Chris Morgan, senior VP of HP’s Graphics Solutions Business.

The response from other publishers to the HP Innovation Ad Program has been overwhelmingly positive. “HP and Hearst took that leap of faith and we printed [the personalized advertisement] and put it in the magazine. Now everyone wants to know about it,” reports SCI’s Williams, whose digital print firm gets inquiries about the program nearly every day from publishers. He and ODS’s Lovelace see tremendous growth potential for print service providers who need high-volume data processing and printing.

“There are so many different applications that this can hit on that we’re all going to be busy trying to keep up with it,” Williams added.

That’s one reason why SCI has since upgraded its HP T300 Color Inkjet Web Press to a T350. ODS also installed an additional HP T400 at its one-year-old Texas facility.

“You don’t just want to be the person who prints,” Williams advises. “You want to be the one who does more. This was a prime opportunity for companies with a high level of sophistication to step up and show their talents and the power of HP inkjet technology.”


Opposites Compete

With this spring’s NBA Finals, looking at two inkjet web manufacturing giants on paper is like matching a pair of basketball powerhouses against each other. For fun, let’s call our game the Hewlett-Packard Hornets vs. the Kodak Bears (Kodak, Kodiak: Get it?) and pretend that their head coaches have very different approaches.

These teams’ hardware stars are the HP T series and the Prosper series, respectively. “These presses and companies are practically opposite in every way,” says scout/industry consultant Henry Freedman, who publishes the quarterly Technology Watch newsletter. Freedman, who spent more than 835 hours researching Kodak’s Stream inkjet technology in 2012, pointed out some of the basic differences: “The HP T presses are DoD (drop-on-demand) while the Kodak Prosper 5000XL is continuous inkjet,” he writes. “The HP has a long paper path, while the Kodak has a short one. With HP, all inks remain wet until they dry together at the end of printing. Kodak dries between colors during printing.”

Freedman went on to scientifically discuss even more detailed differences, such as print head structure, jetting paths, uniform dots versus random dots, low/high humectants, and digital front end design. To obtain a copy of the issue ($95), go to www.mytechnologywatch.com. (To subscribe to Technology Watch, email Freedman at h.freedman@att.net.)


Knowledge is Power

Despite all the growth, there still is an alarming amount of inkjet ignorance. Among other challenges facing printers as they relate to these new business opportunities, customer education may be the biggest, says Aurelio Maruggi, VP and GM of HP’s Inkjet High-speed Production Solutions (IHPS) division. “The primary challenge for printing service providers, as well as vendors…is educating the market about these new technologies. This applies to publishers, brand owners, and business in general,” he points out. “While the early adopters rapidly embraced these technologies and are capitalizing on the benefits they bring in terms of supply-chain efficiency, target market communication, short-run, and quick turnaround, there is still a lot to do to create awareness at all levels.”

Health, fitness, and wellness publisher Rodale, Inc. is a prime example of such lack of awareness. No stranger to the magalog concept, the publisher has been producing the hybrid publications since the mid-1990s. Yet the lion’s share of its direct mail promotions still are printed using conventional offset technology.

“Occasionally, we do utilize inkjet printing for personalization,” Sue Sweeney, Rodale’s director of print production, told me. “This is done on the stitcher. Additionally, we have used digital printing on some double postcards. However, the majority of the work is still done with traditional, four-color offset printing.”

When asked if Rodale has any near-future plans to get even more customized content using customer data and high-speed, inkjet web print technology, “Yes, we hope to do this more,” Sweeney says. “I am working on some strategies and campaigns for it now.” But when pressed for details, she revealed that more inline inkjet on the stitcher was planned. Sweeney then admitted not even being aware of the hybrid imprinting possibilities available today. I explained briefly about putting inkjet heads on web offset presses and diplomatically encouraged her to read this article, once published, to learn more about the technology.


Zappos.com Catalog and eMagalog Experiments

Just because open minded customers are willing to try new things doesn’t mean they always work. But did Zappos.com’s experiments fail or were they merely ahead of their time?
After only about six months, the Amazon-owned online shoe and clothing store zapped the wi-fi connection on its “Zappos Now” (ZN) magalog iPad app midway through last year.

Launched in late 2011 to complement the Zappos.com shopping app, the digital catalog and lifestyle magazine app sounded like a great idea. ZN included editorial content on current fashion trends and the ability to shop directly within the app. The inaugural issue featured a report on color trends and an interview with a Zappos.com stylist as well as a holiday gift guide.
ZN users had the ability to purchase all of the products featured in the editorial pages, make notes about them, and create shopping lists of items to buy later. Previously available on iTunes, it also included social sharing features that enabled users to share articles and products to their social media pages. Early on in the campaign, Zappos ran ads on Google and Facebook to promote the app.

“With this app, we wanted to create more of an experience, rather than just drilling down into 60,000 products with search,” said Will Young, engineering director of Zappos.com at the time, who has since moved on to direct Zappos Labs, the firm’s research arm.

Not Enough ROI

With the benefit of hindsight 15 months later, Young noted recently: “We loved making it [the ZN app] and sharing a new shopping experience with our customers. There was a lot of positive feedback from our customers and our brands, but we didn’t quite make the traction we were hoping for. We’ve shut it down for now and are taking those learnings into new projects.”
Could those new projects integrate inkjet printed magalogs? Probably not in the present fiscal budget at the digi-central firm.

While Zappos.com management is aware of the content customization opportunity offered by data mining and digital print production, the Internet retailer has “no real plans to invest further, outside of infrequent testing in direct mail,” added Darrin Shamo, its director of online marketing. “The magalog was originally conceived as a channel extension for brand co-op, though it evolved to become a way to reach beyond our email house file,” he explained.

The e-tailer also stopped producing its “Zappos Life” printed catalog in 2010, after rave reviews a year earlier that average per-transaction sales were consistently twice what it had achieved online. The publication was targeted at the over-40, female crowd, but its momentum fizzled.
“After several years of testing and iteration, we determined that the curation required and the return against it no longer justified its place in the traffic mix,” added Shamo.

“We still continue to run small test campaigns and will reinstate should the performance ever improve.”

 

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