PebblePost took the concept of addressable TV and adapted it for direct mail. Lewis Gersh, the company's CEO, said the "monumental endeavor" requiring engineers to build a fully functional ad server that connects digital behavior with direct mail took more than two-and-a-half years to build and test.
Each piece of mail is custom built for an individual, not by household or ZIP code. "We had to build this from scratch and work with some of the biggest data companies and ecommerce sites to launch this addressability graph," Gersh said.
Gersh initially thought it would appeal to direct-mail marketers, but that's not the case. It turns out the challenge becomes convincing brands with a passion for direct mail to move online.
Most of the companies using PebblePost's platform today understand how programmatic and digital marketing work, because they're more familiar with the process. Gersh says those marketers think of the addressable, programmatic platform as the "first new channel since search and social."
The platform looks for consumer activity on a site and ranks browser keyword searches like shoes and shirts. It ties in with cart abandonment and other behavioral activity and applies campaign rules much like an ad server such as frequency capping, suppression, A/B testing, control groups, audience tagging, and geo-targeting.
From that information—behavior, product-level activity and other signals like campaign rules—the platform determines the piece of direct mail to send. It's all sorted by ZIP and sent to a postal hub within 12-to-24 hours daily.
From Web site activity to when a direct-mail piece lands in the consumer's hand should only take about three to five days. About 8% of all mail PebblePost sends results in a purchase, not just a response, Gersh said. "We keep a 30-day attribution window, which is about half the normal of direct mail," he said. "Typically, direct mail is modeled on a 60-day window."