Thought your life had an ad-free moment? Sorry: A new service is allowing online retailers to sell space for paper ads in customers' boxes, the Wall Street Journal reports. Called UnDigital, the company already has 25 retailers offering slots, including Barnes & Noble, Zulily, and Saks Fifth Avenue. Companies have long added their own product samples or coupons in packages, but with online shipping cutting into profits—and retail margins falling from 10.2% in 2012 to 8% last year on average—it may be time to monetize box space. "It's rare that someone will order something online and not open the package," says an e-commerce site director who's seeking to include inserts in packages.
How it works: Retailers post listings every month saying how many boxes they'll have and how many inserts will fit. For their part, advertisers say how many inserts they want to place at the retailer's set price—usually 10 to 12 cents per, with an average of two or three inserts in each box—and retailers "can approve which advertisers can insert ads," says a press release. UnDigital handles payment and printing, and sends the ads to the shipping facility. All pricier than an Internet ad, but worth it, right? "My main objective is to get my item as fast as I can—I don't look at anything else," says a dubious Pennsylvania accountant. "The only way I would look at the ads is if they were shoved in my face like YouTube ads." (Read more advertising stories.)