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The list of industries that have been impacted greatly by the internet is a long one. The internet pretty much impacts everyone today.

From the newspaper industry to Hollywood, many industries had their own issues and the internet can't be blamed for all of the changes they've had to cope with. But it has played a significant role in forcing them to change faster than they would probably have liked.

According to a study by Borrell Associates, printed direct mail may be the internet's next 'victim'. It projects that direct mail will see a 39% decline over the next 5 years, with spending dropping from nearly $50bn in 2008 to just under $30bn by the end of 2013.

Although a lot of attention has been paid to the internet's impact on newspapers and television, for instance, as Mediaweek points out, direct mail was once king, exceeding newspaper, television and internet ad spending. So if Borrell Associates' predictions are correct, direct mail will have experienced perhaps the greatest fall of all ad mediums.

Obviously the needs that have driven massive spending on direct mail haven't been eliminated. Advertisers still need to reach consumers and coupons, which have gone hand-in-hand with direct mail, are still very popular. But increasingly direct mail and coupon delivery is being replaced with email. And for good reason. It's cheaper and there's far more that advertisers can do to boost effectiveness, from segmentation to A/B testing.

But none of this means that direct mail should be excluded from the marketing mix. Even if Borrell Associates' predictions pan out, direct mail is still a mammoth and will still be a good fit for some advertisers. Ironically, as the amount of direct mail decreases and the amount of email marketing increases, I might make a little prediction of my own: opening your inbox may be more annoying that receiving a mailbox full of direct mail pieces. For savvy marketers that know how to make good use of both mediums, that might not be such a bad thing.

Photo credit: matthewnstoller via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 27 May, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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