Audience Engagement Digital Innovation
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Personalised print publishing: Marrying the emotional impact of print with variable data

New digital printing technology developed by Canon in Europe can now enable publishers to use data to produce the same personalised functionality to printed products that we have become used to in online publishing. Now it is possible to marry the emotional impact of print with variable data at industrial speeds.

Speaking at this year’s Digital Innovators’ Summit in Berlin, Cathy Bittner, business development manager for Canon Europe’s commercial printing division, told FIPP recent digital developments in inkjet printing now offer a brand new playing field for publishers serious about bringing more personalisation into their printed magazines. 

Cathy Bittner DIS2019 ()
Cathy Bittner at DIS2019

“Most publishers, when they talk about print, refer to static litho printing, which by definition represents big volumes. Technological innovation within digital printing has come a very long way and with the further development of highspeed inkjet printing we have now bridged the gap between digital toner and offset sheet fed technology. On the one hand this offers publishers more flexibility for magazines with smaller print runs. On the other hand it allows them to create new concepts for highly targeted or even personalised publications with long print runs – thanks to the industrial speeds and the capability of variable data printing.”

Bittner said Canon Europe can introduce these new services to publishers, many of whom might not always know what the new technology can offer. “Many publishers honestly do not know about the advances made in the last couple of years. It is also a brand new value proposition because inkjet is much faster and more cost-efficient than printing with toner, which means that the commercial implementation for longer print runs is now feasible.”

Mass customisation

Combining all the new features of the latest solutions – mass customisation in print is now possible in high quality on standard coated papers. This combined with the right data is a game changer, explained Bittner. “Online retailers, for example, are already using the technology for personalised product offerings in catalogues or direct mailings. In the same way they use programmatic advertising in their digital marketing activities, they can now offer those same solutions for printed products. And thanks to integrated and automated print production workflows, it is possible to compose, print and distribute personalized publications almost in real time.”

She said they have developed solutions to ensure digital printing can function at the same productivity levels of offset sheetfed printing, which means that for example individual covers, inserts or sections can be printed digitally even for magazines with highest print runs.

Cathy Bittner Canon ()
Cathy Bittner at DIS2019

Although digital printing is often associated with lower print runts, Bittner warns that when it comes to optimising print runs the benefit of low print runs is only the beginning of the story. “Yes, if you want only 200 copies, we print only 200 copies and we cut out supply chain management and wastage. But we can also optimise versioning. If you have special editions you can dive very deep into producing targeted specialised editions. When you know your subscriber you can even show each individual targeted advertising in print,” she said.

“When we look at publishing we have various print application focuses like books, newspapers, magazines and newsletters. Now, with the advances in technology, the output and speed we can achieve ensure high quality at an industrial scale. Moreover, today’s technology now allows for the printing of mass differentiated – or personalised – magazines. We can now print 100,000 magazines, each with its own cover, personalised sections or advertising.”

By Piet van Niekerk  @PietNiekerk

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