just remembered Reader Reply Cards were a thing magazines did back in Yon Olden Dayes

imagine this, my young friends: you read a number of articles on a topic, interspersed with (mostly) topically relevant advertising, each ad with a number associated with it, and at the end, you can circle numbers on a card corresponding to the ads you were interested in, drop the card in a mailbox, and receive more detailed advertisements in your home mailbox over the next few weeks.

@elomatreb the information has always wanted to be free, it is just the middlemen who keep heckin it all up


In the 90s/00s I used to fill them out in electronics magazines and the replies were addressed to the cat, who was listed as "Engineering Quality Manager, Cables and Connectors"

This wasn't even a fib as he thought every telecoms cable was a snek, and disconnected my LAN and telephone system on more than one occasion by clawing cables out of distribution boxes 😸


Living in New Zealand I always held Reader Reply Cards in awe, they were alien technology which wouldn't work in my country (or would be very expensive to airmail).

Imagine, being able to send letters *AND GET REPLIES*! To live in a country where the companies that made stuff ALSO LIVED IN THAT COUNTRY! And spoke your kind of English with vowels in the same places and used the same measurement units and printer paper size! Just the thought was breathtaking, utopian, impossible.

@djsundog Some people used it as a replacement for firewood in their houses. Imagine that, all your heating fuel delivered free, Post office bringing multiple bags of BRM's.

@djsundog I really miss those. I learned so much about a lot of things from them.

@drwho same! companies were more than happy to provide free educational materials so long as one did not mind them being slanted towards the products the company produced

@djsundog @drwho i can say from long experience that this approach works pretty well even now in internet days, but its achilles' heel is of course that doing any form of economic activity on the internet will attract marketing professionals to shit up your whole deal sooner or later.

(well, and i guess that the internet doesn't exist any more unless you ask facegoogle's permission, so that's also a problem.)

@djsundog @drwho

Royal Dutch Philips did this a lot for electronics hobbyists, particularly from the 1950s to 1980s...

@djsundog For basic components the companies were pretty interchangable. But for stuff like BASIC Stamps, at the time they were often the only company selling affordable ones to tinker around with.

@djsundog I wonder if there are any modern examples. This seems a lot more efficient and less intrusive than modern adtech tracking.

@djsundog hey all you young 'uns gather 'round and let me show you how you clicked on banner ads before there was a world wide web!


As a child, I once filled in one from (IIRC) Popular Electronics for pretty much everything that seemed even remotely interesting. The mailings were a constant stream of treasure for the next few months.

Highly recommend!

@djsundog I used those things heavily in the '80s-'90s to get a ton of free promos, tech books, and software; customer acquisition was super expensive back then.

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