Key Notes Vol. 02 No. 07

OIG Says USPS Prefunding Requirement Isn’t Right – The USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG) says U.S. Postal Service’s requirement to prefund its long-term pension and healthcare liabilities doesn’t seem quite right. And it issued a report describing why it thinks so.  In a recent blog post, the USPS OIG compared the prefunding requirement to a credit card company telling a consumer they would have to enclose a million dollars in their next bill payment because it’s the responsible thing to do.  In the report, with the unexciting title, “Considerations in Structuring Estimated Liabilities,” it outlines in detail some of the numbers surrounding the issue.  The Postal Service is required to pay the full estimate of its liabilities, currently estimated at nearly $404 billion, according to the OIG, while the Postal Service has set-aside cash totals of more than $335 billion for its pensions and retiree healthcare, exceeding 83 percent of estimated future payouts.  Source:  eCommerceBytes

Postal Service and Union Open Contract Talks – The U.S. Postal Service and a major union began contract talks Thursday as the agency continued to face huge financial losses.  The Postal Service’s current contract with the American Postal Workers Union expires May 20.  PMG Megan Brennan said both sides share the goal of negotiating a contract that “enhances our ability to serve our customers and is fair to postal employees.” Brennan took over the job Feb. 1.  Source:  US News

Why Fashion Magazines Matter – Walk by any magazine rack and undoubtedly, you’ll walk by heralded fashion tomes like Vogue, Lucky, W, and more:  thick bound copies often belittled for their heavy advertising and high photo-to-writing ratio.  Inside, you’ll find waifish, pouting models wearing ridiculously expensive, deliciously bizarre costumes—not clothes—with headlines that seem pithy and shallow:  trend forecasts for the season, celebrities posing in designer gowns, tips on how to best flatter the body.  It seems an anonymous writer a decade after the turn of the century felt the same.  In a 1911 Atlantic article, the author wonders at the oft-pensive look found on many a fashion model’s face, the one that seems to look blankly into the distance.  But fashion magazines have evolved.  Today, they are just as likely to tackle serious events and the social issues of the day as much as showcase the next feathered, ruffled creation.  Fashion has become increasingly accessible since the time that this piece was written—it has broadened its vision beyond society girls drowning in money and become a genre that celebrates “street style,” “normcore,” and being “basic.”  We live in the golden age of this medium. Fashion has become a modern political force, and it exerts itself through the images and text in the pages of today’s fashion magazine.  Source:  The Atlantic

USPS Goof Gives Publishers a Break on Postal Rates – Because of a calculation error, the average postal rate increase for magazines in April will be less than originally announced.  The Postal Regulatory Commission, which spotted the error last week, calculates that the average increase for “Outside-County” Periodicals (primarily magazines, with some newspapers and newsletters) will be only 1.34%, not the originally announced 1.965%.  USPS acknowledged the error.  The slip-up came in creating an apples-to-apples comparison of the current rules and rates to the new ones. The PRC noted that the USPS calculations failed to account for new rules that will result in fewer carrier-route bundles and more Flats Sequencing System-optimized bundles.   Source:  DeadTree Edition

Why Data Quality is Essential to Your Analytics Strategy – If you don’t know how dirty your data is, you don’t know what opportunities you’re missing.  To put some numbers behind the potential harm of bad data, let’s look at a hypothetical direct mail marketing campaign.  Imagine you spend $20,000 per month on a campaign to a highly targeted set of 100,000 customers in a specific market.  Assume the annual cost of this program would be $240,000 (excluding employee and other operational costs).  Based on previous experience, you know that each conversion from the campaign will result in a $100 gain in revenue, and you can count on about a 5 percent success rate, generating revenue of $500,000.  After subtracting the $240,000 annual cost, the total annual profit for the program would equal $260,000.  But if your data quality is poor and your error rate is 50 percent (a not uncommon issue for enterprise sales and marketing departments due to duplicates, incorrect addresses, outdated lists, and so forth), the revenue would be cut in half to only $250,000, slashing the total annual profit for the program to just $10,000.  If you include operational costs, you are likely losing money on the program.  Source:  BetaNews

The Future of Advertising:  What Will 2025 Look Like? – Over the next 10 years, advertising will move from communicating to predicting, and emoting, based on human needs. According to a 2014 study by neuroeconomist Paul Zak, three out of eight people now love brands more than their spouses, because thinking of brands releases more oxytocin – the same reaction generated when being hugged.  Without a doubt, we’re going to witness a shift from obsessing over what advertising looks like, to what advertising feels like. And in 2025 we’re going to have the technology to make people genuinely happy.  Just to give you some context, the bulk of your liaison with businesses in 2025 will be digital, clever and all about you. Life will be more automated, slicker and quicker.  Source:  The Guardian

Is Augmented Reality the Savior of Print? – Wikipedia states:  Augmented Reality is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.  According to “How Stuff Works” it “blurs the line between what’s real and what’s computer-generated by enhancing what we see, hear, feel and smell”.  AR is all about taking what you see on the printed page and making it come alive.  Source:  PrintMediaCentr