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New Yorkers can now get scanned previews of their junk mail before it’s delivered

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

New York City-area residents can now sign up for "Informed Delivery," which will send them a free digitized preview of their day’s mail before it arrives. Participants will receive a daily morning newsletter containing black-and-white scans of the front of every letter coming to their mailbox that day, and although magazines and packages won’t be scanned, and the newsletter only displays up to 10 pieces of mail, users can see more online through the agency's customer platform.

Informed Delivery's success hinges on direct mailers. The USPS guarantees that its new feature will bring more eyes to mailed advertisements because companies are able to supplement their mailings with hyperlinks in the daily newsletter. From there, users can click through to advertisers' sites, industry publication Direct Marketing News reported earlier this month.

USPS first tested the digital mail feature in Northern Virginia starting in 2014 and is considering expanding beyond the two markets in 2016. In that first market, the response rate to advertisers' messages was more than 1,000 percent higher for people receiving the newsletter, as opposed to those just receiving physical direct mailers.

USPS guarantees it will bring more eyes to mailed advertisements

Informed Delivery functions with the agency’s automated mail sorting system. Nearly two years ago, the agency confirmed that it photographs every piece of mail in the US, so the system for sending scans to customers was basically already in place. The mailing agency claims it does this primarily to help sort mail, as opposed to assist law enforcement or spy on civilians.

This isn't the first attempt to disrupt the postal service market. Now-defunct company Outbox offered similar services to subscribers nearly three years ago. For $4.99 a month, the company would send an employee to individuals’ homes, pick up their mail, open it, scan it, and then provide virtual access. The physical mail could then be returned if a user requested. The company folded in 2014.