The other night, my wife and I sat down to watch television. Riveting start to my story, huh? Anyhow, we were finally caught up on Parks and Recreation, after watching episodes I had saved on my DVR. With this accomplishment came finally watching the show live. On the first commercial break, my wife remarked “gosh, I forgot what it was like to watch commercials,” as she got up and left the room to refill her water. “They’re still on? Ughh!” was the response when she returned. This got my wheels turning. Television commercial advertisements, although cherished during the Super Bowl, have become a nuisance, a bane to most TV watchers. This is why more and more people are DVRing their favorite shows and watching television through Netflix- to skip the commercials. 

Television services are forced to find new ways to trick patrons into watching commercials. Hulu Plus and several “On-Demand” providers build commercials into the feed, and one cannot change the channels or skip the ads. Muting the device just pauses the commercial, which will resume play when it comes back. This way of advertising just further reinforces that commercials are an interruption, and a cost of watching television. So how can you break through the clutter?

Plain and simple- Print.

I read an interesting blog from Nicole Schappert at Oce/Canon about how e-readers aim to replace the printed book, but that print technology is making the printing process more convenient than ever. Take a look-

Kindle is not for Everyone (excerpt)

Ultimately, digital printing technology offers numerous benefits for printers. For one, it reduces the risk of having to forecast demand. Printers can now print only what is ordered, thereby eliminating warehousing needs and waste. Digital print also offers blazing fast turnaround times with some book printers being able to fulfill an order within 24 hours of receiving it. Finally, digital print allows for anyone to be a publisher. With no minimums to meet, books can be published in small quantities. Digital also allows for increased creativity through customization and personalization.

The bottom line is that books are not a thing of the past, and by implementing digital printing technology, printers are able to stay in the game and are better equipped to deal with whatever trends may come their way. They can have greater turnover, new revenue opportunities, and improved profitability. And these business benefits are not just limited to book printers! Photo book vendors, self-publishers, non-profits, and corporations can all benefit from the publishing revolution through digital printing technology. The question is… how can you benefit from it?

That article neatly sums up how changes in technology allow printers to adapt. The same lessons ring true in how advertisers can reach their customers. You can’t “skip over the commercial” that is a direct mail piece in your mailbox. There is no spam filter for physical mailings. Even with mobile advertising, the targeting can be completely off-target, being peppered with commercials you can’t skip, and that have no relevance to you.  YouTube often forces commercials on the viewer prior to viewing.

Take this into account: the first question I get every day if I arrive home before my wife is “Did you get the mail already? Anything good?”

I wish it were- “How was your day, honey?…” 

But I digress. Digital print allows for amazing levels of personalization, and allows direct mail to break through the clutter. Just as television companies have to compete with DVR, On-demand, Netflix and the Internet, direct marketers need to compete with, and utilize, social media, email, mobile messaging, and a variety of emerging technologies. These are all good things. Advertisers and marketers must try harder. Messaging becomes more personalized and offers become more relevant. More striking color and design becomes more affordable, and my mailbox fills up with attractive, targeted communications.