Variable Data Printing (VDP)

VDP is a generic term describing the ability to customize direct mail pieces for specific recipients. A simple example is the Mail Merge capability in most word processors to insert name and address fields in letters.  Only a few years ago the concept of VDP involved a “form” with data laid on top of it.

As customization of marketing pieces proved effective in the conversion of customers to the call to action,its use has expanded as well as its sophistication. Some VDP software products have evolved dramatically so that VDP bears little resemblance to what it was. Every page printed can be different from its Oncepredecessor. Once marketers understand the capability of VDP solutions, they are only limited by their imaginations and tools their Direct Mail shops employ to deliver the mail pieces. 

This topic is called Personalized Marketing or Promotional Marketing where several examples are provided on this page and sub pages.

Sophisticated utilization of VDP is evident in utility bills, insurance policies, invoices and the like. A database drives the print process to where each piece is unique even from sheet to sheet. This process is called Transactional Printing.

Transactional mail often includes blank space. This "White Space" can be used for promotional messages such as coupons, banner ads or other communications directed to the recipient. In order for this to work, the tools producing the printed images must have the capability and logic to determine if the promotional selection could fit into the space without adding pages (which would result in additional postage). This effort is called Transpromotional and requires sophisticated VDP software (such as the PSL Page Builder Family of products) to adequately set up and produce the job for printing and mailing, or e-mailing or web presentment (and payment).


The critical concept (that the PSL Page Builder Family of products  delivers) is that the variables involved are more sophisticated than placing variable text on a template. The variables include in part: fonts, font sizes, images (either based on logic or in the merge data, or other tables), colors of fonts, box sizes, backgrounds, borders, box geometry, patterns and more. Every single sheet printed can be completely different from the others!

This example illustrates that a variable can be part of an image as in the text on the whiteboard.

Some companies, such as utility companies, want to have users log onto their system to view their accounts, bills and pay online. The same database that drives the printed utility bill also supports this online requirement. Some companies are asking their users to go "paperless" and avoid printing altogether. This is an issue for Print Service Providers and their need to expand their traditional market and services through Web Services solutions, also offered by Jet Letter, LLC.

Further, and still evolving is the use of VDP oriented solutions in online scenarios Web to Print. A continuum of Direct Mail, Customized E-Mails, Personalized URLs capabilities allows marketers to provide a mult-faceted approach to brand building and client action. Personalized URLs are the equivalent of a Direct Marketing piece produced online and configured for a specific visitor.