May 08, 2018

How Programmatic Direct Mail® Fits into the Great Digital Duopoly and the Marketer’s Mix

Marketing Solutions

By Celeste Giampetro and Tom Barbaro --

One benefit of working at a growing company like PebblePost is that we’re in the same position as many of our customers, a.k.a. marketers. We conduct the same calculus when it comes to determining budgets (for both dollars and hours) to balancing short-term needs against long-term scalability to ensuring that we delegate our resources as efficiently as possible. And just as we’re evangelizing Programmatic Direct Mail® to brands, we’re seeking solutions to our own marketing challenges from vendors.

Comparing the two processes has been enlightening.

A crash course in prioritizing problems
First, all our experiences since we first went live in 2015 have confirmed the soundness of our foundational concept, Programmatic Direct Mail®. Yes, we know that sounds like a boast, but it’s true. Here’s the fundamental reason why. 

Programmatic Direct Mail® is not designed to solve a niche problem. It is designed to help businesses acquire new customers and retain existing customers. (If there’s a business that doesn’t need help with those things, we’d like to know what it is.) Not only that, it’s fully scalable. Yes, we’ve helped a lot of smaller companies — but a brand can also spend seven figures a month with Programmatic Direct Mail® and still drive performance. So, it’s a meaningful solution that can really move the needle. Whatever your most optimistic ceiling is, we can help you reach it.

Do you have any idea how rare that type of all-encompassing solution to a major problem is? We do. We’re inundated with pitches from vendors every day. Most fall into one of several broad categories: event sponsorships, lead generation tools or data plug-ins. And, in most cases, it’s clear that the vendor did zero due diligence on PebblePost because their proposed “solution” isn’t designed for any problem that we’re having. They’re very similar to display ads.

But at least those are easy to ignore. JK.  

A sneakier time suck are proposals that initially sound promising but ultimately don’t pan out because they cost too much, require too much time to implement and maintain, or both. Or maybe they’re just not scalable. For a marketing professional, there’s nothing worse than locking into a 12-month contract for a solution that will be obsolete in two months.

This is how it’s supposed to work
From the PebblePost perspective, we’ll give a shoutout to a vendor that solved an actual pain point for us: HubSpot.

Early on, when we had just a two-person marketing team, we managed to hold our own generating, publishing and socializing content. Where we encountered our pain point was in getting the content live. We had to log in and format everything on a bunch of different platforms — WordPress, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and so on. HubSpot allowed us to publish everything from a central location. That saved a ton of time. It’s also made it easier to analyze results and run tests, and testing is an absolutely critical part of any marketing strategy. 

What’s most exciting is that it feels like we’re still just getting started. We’re going to grow into that tool as it continues to evolve. That scalability is invaluable.

Many companies have a similar reaction to PebblePost Programmatic Direct Mail®. It solves a major problem but in a way that’s simple to understand. It’s great when you see a marketer’s face light up as they realize what we’re offering: the ability to take online intent signal and do something completely different with it. They can reach people at home, away from all that online noise, and then track the resulting activity either back online or in-store.

Don’t get lost among the duopoly
That last point is critical. In the age of the Google/Facebook duopoly, it would be easy for marketers to simply resign themselves to what appears to be an inevitable fate. Bow down, budget in hand, before the two digital giants. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. And, let’s be real, Google and Facebook work really well for a lot of marketers. 

Combined, Google and Facebook now account for 63% of digital ad revenues. And according to an eMarketer forecast, by the end of the year they will account for more than a quarter of all ad revenue. Moreover, mobile is on pace to pass television this year for the largest share of U.S. ad revenue with a projected 33.9%. That’s expected to grow to 47.9% by 2022.

That’s progress in the digital age.

With growing concern about brand safety and contextual targeting, many brands have concerns about putting the majority of their eggs in two baskets. And here’s where Programmatic Direct Mail® really makes sense. We’re a natural complement to all the marketing activity driven to your site. And, frankly, there’s humanistic charm in a tangible piece of brand collateral received at home and personalized in a way that captures the recipient’s intent — and holds it long enough for them to act on it. When’s the last time you cuddled with a banner ad?


Celeste Giampetro is VP of Marketing for PebblePost and Tom Barbaro is VP Sales, East. They complement each other very well. (“Nicely put, Celeste.” “Why thank you, Tom. Couldn’t have done it without you.”)

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