Alternative media evaluation of effectiveness of Direct Marketing19th February 2021
Alternative media are media sources that differ from established or dominant types of media (such as mainstream media or mass media) in terms of their content, production, or distribution. Sometimes the term independent media is used as a synonym, referencing independence from large media corporations, but this term is also used to indicate media enjoying freedom of the press and independence from government control. Alternative media does not refer to a specific format and may be inclusive of print, audio, film/video, online/digital and street art, among others. Some examples include the counter-culture zines of the 1960s, ethnic and indigenous media such as the First People’s television network in Canada (later rebranded Aboriginal Peoples Television Network), and more recently online open publishing journalism sites such as Indymedia.
While mainstream mass media, on the whole, “represent government and corporate interests”, alternative media tend to be “non-commercial projects that advocate the interests of those excluded from the mainstream”, for example, the poor, political and ethnic minorities, labor groups, and LGBT identities. These media disseminate marginalized viewpoints, such as those heard in the progressive news program Democracy Now, and create communities of identity, as seen for example in the It Gets Better Project that was posted on YouTube in response to a rise in gay teen suicides at the time of its creation.
There are various definitions of “alternative media.” John Downing, for example, defines “radical alternative media” as media “that express an alternative vision to hegemonic policies, priorities, and perspectives”. In his assessment of a variety of definitions for the term, Chris Atton notes repeatedly the importance of alternative media production originating from small-scale, counter-hegemonic groups and individuals.
Christian Fuchs also argues that alternative media must have four distinct properties. The first being that the audience of these media must be involved in the creation of what is put out in alternative media. The second is that it has to be different from the mainstream. The third is that it should create a perspective different from that of the state and major corporations. The fourth property is that alternative media must “establish different types of relationships with the market and/or the state.”
As defined by Atton and Hamilton “Alternative journalism proceeds from dissatisfaction not only with the mainstream coverage of certain issues and topics but also with the epistemology of news. Its critique emphasizes alternatives to, inter alia, conventions of news sources and representation; the inverted pyramid of news texts; the hierarchical and capitalized economy of commercial journalism; the professional, elite basis of journalism as a practice; the professional norm of objectivity; and the subordinate role of the audience as a receiver”
Journalistic Practices says “Alternative media not only allow but also facilitate the participation (in its more radical meaning) of its members (or the community) in both the produced content and the content-producing organization.’ In this sense, participation in alternative media as described and reflected upon by the participants in this study can best be understood as a form of active citizenship”.
Alternative media challenge the dominant beliefs and values of a culture and have been described as “counter-hegemonic” by adherents of Antonio Gramsci’s theory of cultural hegemony. However, since the definition of alternative media as merely counter to the mainstream is limiting, some approaches to the study of alternative media also address the question of how and where these media are created, as well as the dynamic relationship between the media and the participants that create and use them.
Social movement media
Social movements are a type of collective action. They involve large, sometimes informal, groups or organizations which focus on specific political or social issues and promote, instigate, resist or undo the social change. Social movement media is how social movements use media, and oftentimes, due to the nature of social movements, that media tends to be an alternative.
Communication is vital to the success of social movements. Research shows that social movements experience significant difficulties communicating through mainstream media because the mainstream media often systematically distort, stigmatize, or ignore social movement viewpoints. They may deny social movements’ access or representation at critical moments in their development, employ message frames that undermine or weaken public perceptions of a movement’s legitimacy or implicitly encourage movement actors who seek coverage to cater to the questionable values of mainstream reportage on social activism, including a heightened interest in violence, emotionality, and slogans. This problematic coverage of social movements is often referred to as the protest paradigm: the idea that mass media marginalizes protest groups through their depictions of the protesters, and, by doing so, subsequently support the status quo. As a result, social movements often turn to alternative media forms and practices in order to more effectively achieve their goals.
Audience size has several possible measures:
- Circulation: The number of physical units carrying the advertising.
- Audience: The number of people exposed to the vehicle. (If the vehicle has pass-on readership then the audience is larger than circulation).
- Effectiveness audience: The number of people with target audience characteristics exposed to the vehicle.
- Effective ad-exposed audience: The number of people with target audience characteristics who actually saw the ad.
Make tracking the results of a direct-mail campaign possible with the right set-up and tracking instructions. Start by including a unique code, peel-away graphic or other identifier on each mailing piece. Use the code to distinguish the mailing campaign from others that may be running concurrently. Include instructions requiring a customer to present the mailer at the store to receive a free gift, a discount or whatever the mailing campaign offers. If the customer shops online, include instructions to enter the code during the checkout process.
Measure Response Rates
Proper set-up and education makes measuring response rates far less difficult. Make sure staff members are aware of each and every mail campaign currently in circulation. Conduct meetings to ensure staff members know how and where to record tracking information. Collect tracking information when the mailing campaign expires and divide the number of customers responding to the campaign by the number of people receiving the direct mail piece to get an accurate response rate.
The cost per mail piece and per acquisition plays a significant role in evaluating the success of a direct-mail campaign. The cost per mail piece should include both direct costs such as design, printing, paper and postage and indirect costs such as response management and administrative labor costs. Divide total costs by the number of mail pieces in the campaign to get the cost per mail piece. Cost per acquisition reveals how much each customer the mailing brings in costs. Divide the total cost of the mailing by the response rate to get the cost per acquisition.
An effective direct-mail campaign maximizes response rates and minimizes costs. In addition to reviewing the cost per mail piece and acquisition cost of the current mailing, compare cost assessment and individual features of the mailing piece to previous mailings. Conduct a thorough analysis to see whether, for example, investing in a professional design service, adding more color or using a different weight of paper may have affected the response. Finally, consider external factors such as the geographic size of the mailing, the time of year and business competition to complete a results evaluation.