Free-standing insert coupon activity dropped 3.9 percent over the first six months of 2011 vs. the same time period a year ago. The decline is the first reported in the first half of the year since 2008, when there was a 3.4 perccent decline.

As most paper-based communications — letters, bills, newspapers, magazines, books — continue their steady transition to digital form, can coupons be far behind? Currently, paper is still king of the coupon kingdom, with digital a bit player. According to NCH Marketing Services' Coupon Facts Report, freestanding inserts in newspapers account for 87.7 percent of U.S. CPG coupon distribution.

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