Royal Mail to Pilot Targeted Junk Mail Scheme

Online shoppers could soon be faced with targeted junk mail being delivered to their address as online retailers pass consumer habits onto Royal Mail.

The targeted junk mail can be triggered by a consumer only adding an item to an online basket, without actually purchasing it. The retailer then applies the use of cookies to track the purchasing habits of the consumer before matching the information to a specific address. Royal Mail is then paid by the retailer to deliver the junk mail, within ‘a day or two’ to the consumer in the hope of encouraging further purchases.

A spokesman for Royal Mail, speaking to the The Independent, said: “Royal Mail is carrying out a direct marketing trial with a retailer, based on its contacts with existing customers who have given their permission to be marketed to. We are using an established, targeted direct marketing method – called programmatic – widely used by many retailers and other organisations online, in a more precise and defined way for post.”

The trial is currently being carried out by an unknown retailer and could be rolled out across the UK within the next two months. Royal Mail has faced a loss in profits from its letter delivery business, but makes £3million a day from marketing based business letters. In a report published by the Royal Mail entitled ‘The Private Life of Mail’ the logistics firm describes the benefits of targeted junk mail, with letters staying on average within a home for 17 days, making the consumer feel ‘more valued’.

Daniel Nesbitt, of Big Brother Watch, a civil liberties and privacy pressure group, said to the Daily Mail: “These plans mean that not only will people be bombarded by targeted adverts, they could also be deluged by letters, often with no knowledge of why or how Royal Mail have got hold of this information.”

Interestingly, consumers will find it difficult to opt-out of the mailing scheme as it falls outside of the Royal Mail’s system for stopping generic junk mail. With almost three-quarters of British adults shopping online, nearly 37million people, the plan could generate significant income for the recently privatised firm.

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