Mail of the Future

 What Will the Mail of the Future Look Like? (Part 1 of a Series)

Innovation is all around us.   And so is marketing, as businesses compete to grab our attention.  We’ve already seen significant changes in the past few years in the types of media being used by consumers, as well as the technology being used by businesses to better understand their customers and get their attention.    In no industry is this more apparent than in the mailing industry.  You only have to look as far as your own mail to see how it is changing.  But there is still much more to come as businesses explore new ways to marry digital and physical, with exciting outcomes designed to delight and intrigue consumers.

As part of our PostalVision journey, considering what the mail of the future may contain, and discussing how businesses, posts, and service providers can better support innovation in the mail is a key part of growing the hardcopy mail business.   In this first in a series of PV2020 articles, we take a look at some wonderful innovations in print that bring new life to hardcopy messaging.  Some of these you may already have seen – but I’m betting others will surprise you!

Chevy Ad in Esquire and Popular Mechanics  – Video in Print.  This one incorporates video in print to allow the user to play 3 short videos to complement the magazine ad.  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqy61evUeFg)

Motorola Interactive Print Ad (Wired Magazine).   This print innovation appeared in Wired Magazine – a Motorola ad showing the Moto X mobile phone, but with interactive color “buttons” that appeared at the bottom. When the user presses a button, the mobile phone changes color!  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMrZmSPpIRw)

Nivea Sun Kids Ad.  This magazine print ad by Nivea for its sun protection product included a tear off strip in the ad that a parent could put on their child’s wrist at the beach, then download an app on their mobile phone that would send an alarm if the wristband moved out of a specific range.   (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgXrTGIiFV8)

Audi TT Brochure Hack.  We’ve all seen Augmented Reality ads, which are becoming more common, but this Audi TT brochure ad connects the AR app with the printed ad, using an embedded Bluetooth chip and conductive print to take the interactive experience to new levels. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzJ9InscjA0)

Coca-Cola Print Ad that Becomes an iPhone Speaker.  This print ad could be folded into an iPhone holder that also was a functional amplifier (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdYDePsNMug)

Neutrogena Cover Ad Allows User to Wipe MakeUp Off Model Pic.  This magazine cover ad brings a new interactive sensory experience, allowing the user to use Neutrogena make-up wipes (sent in the magazine) to “wipe” the lipstick off the model pictured on the magazine cover.  (http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/brazilian-neutrogena-ad-lets-you-wipe-lipstick-right-actress-s-face-166292)

Sonera Speed Test.  This printed magazine ad by mobile operator Sonera serves as a game board for an iPhone game where the users can play using interactive buttons on the print ad.   (https://youtu.be/1_pzZ5z5LAI).   Ford Explorer did a similar ad in terms of making the mobile phone interact with the ad (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSzO75rrJog)

Esquire Interactive flashing magazine Ad.  Here’s an example that uses light flashing animated ink in a magazine cover ad (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKS12PMdJ6w)

RSA Interactive Print Ad for Car Insurance.  This ad included a mechanism to communicate with RSA’s systems. The user keyed in their car info on the print ad, and then received a text from RSA with an insurance quote based on their specifics.  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxT6QWCyyEE)

Peugot Air Bag Ad.  This magazine ad by Peugot contained an inflatable “air bag” that when the user hits the ad, it then inflates the mini air bag on the next page ad.  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ko-N8O6j6p4)

Audio in Print.  Similar to the concept of audio in greeting cards, this ad uses audio in larger printed ad brochure.   (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AA28-g2p7RA)

These are just a sampling of the creative ideas being explored to bring new life to print.   With the phenomenal developments happening in printed electronics and, more recently, printed batteries (http://www.idtechex.com/research/reports/flexible-printed-and-thin-film-batteries-2015-2025-technologies-forecasts-players-000410.asp), the marriage of hardcopy print and technology is likely to explode in the future.

What may surprise you most in looking at some of these innovations is the date they were used, because some (not all) of these technologies and innovations have been around for some time.   So why don’t we see more of these kinds of things in today’s mail?   Are posts ready for these types of innovations?  What are the barriers to the posts and businesses that use the mail as a direct marketing medium to support these print innovations?  What are the investments and directions that printing companies need to consider for future mail designs?    Stay tuned, and look for the next article in our series!

By Kathy Siviter

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