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Finding the Full Potential of Variable-Data Printing

(October 2015) posted on Tue Oct 20, 2015

Personalized and printable, Big Data isn’t just for the tech geeks.

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By Mark A. Coudray

Additionally, each display could be printed with a PURL or QR code that would allow the customer to download a coupon, discount code, or bundle offer that could be changed on the back end based on changing objectives. All of this would be tracked and directly attributable to the P-O-P display.
Marketing tactics are changing rapidly, and are increasingly about data and performance. If traditional print is to survive, it must align with the bigger trends that are emerging. The overriding one is “Big Data,” a term I’m sure you hear all the time. Honestly, I don’t know exactly what it means (when does data become big?), but one thing I am certain of is that you will need to understand how to use data to help your customers measure performance, and how to integrate the necessary tools into your workflow.

What drives Big Data is the information that companies like Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Target, Walmart, and others have been using for years – predictive analytics. You see them at work every time you see “People who bought this product also bought this one.” These companies analyze buying patterns to learn how each consumer behaves, what they like, and what they will buy next. The data is now so readily available that consumers are receiving personalized catalogs in the mail, unique to their behaviors that have been gathered without their knowledge. Target got into big trouble doing this a few years ago. (Check out the 2012 article in The New York Times, “How Companies Learn Your Secrets,” to learn more.)

Until a year or so ago, access to this kind of data analysis was super expensive and you needed a PhD in statistics and computer science to make it work. Not any longer. Software and SaaS cloud-based options that are not too expensive are now commonly available. (WolframǀAlpha is just one notable example.) The natural extension of VDP is to combine it with these analytics.

Where to Go from Here
If this is all new to you, fear not. VDP is not another massive disruption like desktop publishing or digital printing – it’s an evolution. Start small. Watch the online tutorials. You’ll find the technology is easy and really pretty cool. Look at your current capabilities and start thinking about how you can incorporate personalization into your offerings. Most importantly, start thinking about how you are going to measure the performance of your work. If you get those two things down, your business will be secure for a long time.


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