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Why you need to know about Programmatic Print

Customisable, measurable and near-instant

Campaign direct mail on table with computer, glasses and phone

The power of personalisation

Rumours of print’s demise in the digital marketing industry have been exaggerated. The reality is that the same programmatic innovations that have helped shape digital advertising and marketing are now making a mark on print.

Thanks to advances in digital printing technology in web-to-print and automated production workflows, real-time marketing is no longer limited to online tools such as pop-up ads, banners and emails. For marketers this means that everything which can be personalised online can now be personalised in print. It’s what print innovators refer to as ‘programmatic print’.

With an integrated programmatic printing solution, digital data can be used to produce printed marketing communications in real time, from creation to distribution, within a 24-hour timeframe.

The impact of programmatic print is potentially huge. It opens up countless opportunities for marketers and print service providers (PSPs) to collaborate on multi-channel campaigns that combine all the advantages of print with those of digitalisation — such as the ability to instantly address consumers with personalised content tailored precisely to their profile.

Couple looking at post as they come through door

The best of both worlds

While the concept behind programmatic print is alluring, there‘s a bigger debate on how it should be put into practice. Can marketers combine digital’s ability to personally address consumers via targeted messages with print’s capability to stimulate consumer engagement with those messages on a deeper emotional level?

The answer is one that gives the best of both worlds — a direct marketing print campaign that is combined with digital in real time, or as close to real time as possible. This is now achievable thanks to the extension of the programmatic approach used in media buying into direct mail (DM) and print.

As defined by State of Digital, programmatic media buying “allows the ‘owner/brand’ to tailor a message and creative to the right person, at the right time in the right context – using audience insight from the brand around the kind of audience they want to target.”

By adopting this approach, marketers are in a position to deliver more precision and personalisation in their messaging and media, resulting in more efficiently targeted campaigns.

Programmatic Mail combines online and physical channels in a way that is likely to significantly improve ROI.

- Mark Cripps, The Economist Group

A good example of this is Programmatic Mail, a concept promoted by Royal Mail in the UK that can be summarised as a tailored, triggered one-to-one communication with a customer.

The best way to explain Programmatic Mail is through a step-by-step hypothetical scenario. A customer who has already given contact permissions visits a web page and interacts with the site; the action triggers an immediate, targeted Programmatic Mail response, based on their browsing behaviour; a pre-designed, personalised communication lands on the customer’s doorstep within a 48-hour period.

It combines the tangible and emotional impact of mail with the bespoke messaging possibilities of digital. As explained by Mark Cripps (Chief Marketing Officer, The Economist Group), “Programmatic Mail is an exciting new development. It enables digital and direct mail to work seamlessly together and combines online and physical channels in a way that is likely to significantly improve ROI.”

Digital print: making programmatic possible

Programmatic print would not be possible without the latest digital print solutions and sophisticated automated production workflows, which make those very short lead times for creation, production and distribution a reality. Print file generation is software-based using up-to-date variable data, and print production is digital and automated.

High quality 1:1 targeted print now becomes cost-efficient for both large- and small-scale campaigns. This makes digital print a highly attractive solution for marketers keen on reinvigorating their campaigns and a highly lucrative investment for PSPs looking to expand their DM print offering.

Ultimately, programmatic print disproves the belief that print is destined to be supplanted by digital in direct marketing. With its 24-hour delivery of targeted, high-quality DM materials, programmatic print proves that the creation of data-driven campaigns that combine the best of the digital and physical worlds is possible.

Using digital printing solutions, marketers can add the all-important emotional appeal to their targeted propositions, knowing that customers welcome and value the physical communication just as much as (if not more than) online interaction.

Print is most certainly not dead – if used strategically, it can bring digital marketing to life.

Written by Tino Wägelein
Business Development Manager, Canon Europe


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