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Variable Data--Up Close and Personal

May 1999
Developments in variable data are pushing on-demand print production to new levels of customization. What are the hot new technologies to see at the On-Demand Show? The answer, pun intended, varies.


BY MARIE RANOIA ALONSO


Talk about getting a little too up close and personal: Bitstream's PageFlex, Agfa's Personalizer-X and BARCO Graphics' VIPLine variable data software solutions, VariScript from Varis and Indigo's Yours Truly, Scitex's Darwin and Xeikon's PrintStreamer, EFI's FreeForm and Xerox's DigiPath—all are striking, almost surreal, examples of the power of variable data in printing.

Talk about Big Brother.

Imagine getting a customized postcard from a travel agency. A picture of a man golfing—your favorite hobby. An action shot of a woman water-skiing—your wife's favorite pastime. A happy family image—mother, father and two children walking through the gates of Disney World. What's more, your name is on the postcard, which, by the way, features all of your favorite colors.

Not in the mood to think about vacationing? How about buying a new car, then? How would you feel about getting—direct to your door—glossy brochures featuring the latest perks decking out your favorite sports car. Again, the car is featured in your favorite color and the text is tailored specifically to you. Your first name is featured throughout the text, which even notes the correct number of miles between your house and your nearest auto dealer, which, by the way, is already sending out personalized postcards enticing you to take a test drive.

Buying a car not on your list of things to do this year? How about finally kicking that pack-a-day smoking habit? Wouldn't it be motivational to receive regular, personalized letters, brochures and booklets encouraging you to stick with your decision to give up smoking? Again, tailored to you, these frequent support mailings would arrive at your home, offering tips on continuing your quest to quit smoking, as well as healthy tips for a smoke-free life.

Variable data software now allows marketing directors and on-demand printers to deliver such customized content to mass markets. This is the age of Big Brother—and who would have thought it would turn a profit for select, entrepreneurial digital printers, to boot?

Bitstream's PageFlex movement is particularly intriguing. Bitstream, an Internet font company, is putting 110 percent of its enthusiasm into PageFlex—now PageFlex Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Bitstream, whose exclusive mission is to develop, market and support on-demand publishing software and related technologies.
 

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