Variable Data Printing

Variable Data Printing

Variable Data Printing
by Steven Barrett

Direct and targeted marketing has become the mainstay of print publishing in recent times. Creating a specific message for each individual recipient has profound results on the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. Gone are the days of mass marketing with long runs of static messages which blanket an audience. The future of marketing is individualized. We live in a time where in your mailbox, you might find a postcard from your local auto dealer highlighting just the right car for your demographic. Your soccer mom neighbor could receive an ad for a minivan whereas the lumberjack across the street’s ad shows a heavy duty truck. This form of targeted marketing has proven far more effective, efficient and exciting.

Variable Data Printing is a term used to describe the coming together of the printed piece with a database of information. Digital print engines have opened new doors in the VDP arena that bring some astounding capabilities to the table.  It requires marketing brain power to come up with thoughtful and creative ways to use the available data to make a judgement as to what message is most appropriate for the reader.

VDP comes in all shapes and sizes. The most basic of which is simple text such as a recipients first name at the top of a mailer or the printing of an address block for mailed pieces. More complex VDP can selectively print images or document layers based on certain fields in a database. An example of this might be the picture of a truck for male recipients and a minivan for women.

Modern digital printing equipment can print variable without a hitch. The real task lies in creating the VDP job. The largest requirement is to have a database of recipients, the more data in the database – the more complex the VDP can be. There are a wide variety of software packages that specialize in working with variable data. This has really become an industry unto itself with a full scope of software from the very basic to the extremely powerful. Robust software can select individual layers from PDF based on rules applied to the database (e.x . If gender is male then truck is selected)

The ultimate form of variable data printing is slowly emerging in the large retail world. Based on buying habits big box stores can deduce, for example, when a woman is pregnant and then swarm her inbox with coupons for diapers and baby food. Marketing on this scale requires vast databases and complex computing power to make determinations based on the data.

Brought to you by VDP

At this time, most all print manufacturers should be offering at least basic variable data printing to their customers. The market demand for targeted messages is steadily growing and the tools to create them are getting better every day.

Keep an eye on this exciting segment of our industry because it won’t be long before it’s all we do.

Mid-State Litho, Inc.
5459 Fenton Rd.
Flint, MI 48507

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