SaaS – Software as a Service means the platform lives in the cloud and not on a local server. W2P SaaS platforms were rare up until about 3 years ago when server based sales began to lag and demand for less expensive alternatives was realized. An SaaS system allows the owner of the system to do all of their work via Internet access and the system is hosted by the software provider. This eliminates server maintenance, down time due to Internet or electrical outages and allows the end user to realize upgrades and fixes to the software in real time. Servers are typically hosted in secure facilities with 24/7 access allowing global reach.
VDP – Acronym for Variable Data Printing – typically this means that a template using VDP is a 1-to-1 customized piece and unique to each recipient. A postcard using VDP is unique to each recipient even if the only variable data on the card is the address to the recipient.
Variable Data Printing – A process in which each piece of printed matter is customized based on the intended recipient. Technically, a unique address makes every printed piece of mail a variable data piece. Up until digital presses became commonplace, VDP was a challenge and was limited to address only. But with technology, every photo, text and address of a printed piece can be printed in line and output ready for delivery.
Templates – templates are the created using desktop software packages allowing a user to personalize and customize their collateral within the platform. A template appears in the catalog, a user can fill in variable fields (or they can be prefilled with user login information) and after proofing, the product moves to the shopping cart for checkout.
Versioned – A template that is versioned means it is customized within the template for a deliverable that is typically printed multiple times, but remains one document. A flyer with a custom address or a business card is a versioned document.
PSP – Print Service Provider
Template Desktop Client – There are two key components to a W2P template. The desktop software used to turn a “native” design file into a variable template is key to making an Indesign or Quark file interactive. Fusion Pro Desktop is the dominant player in the marketplace while others such as Pageflex Studio and HP Yours Truly are others. There are many but only a few that have been around the block long enough to make the process efficient and streamlined. A desktop client is what is used to prepare the file which then resides on the server or SaaS storefront for access by the end user by which they order their collateral.
SaaS Platform – There are dozens of systems in the marketplace which operate in the cloud and allow a PSP to prepare a template, place that template into a customized storefront for easy Internet access. EFI, PTI, HP and many many others offer platforms either on SaaS or server based. These platforms consist of backend database management of storefronts with catalogs for configuration, ecommerce for collection of monies, shipping integration and user access permissions and security. These platforms require engineering, graphic and WAN architectural expertise in design, configuration and maintenance of client portals.
PURL – Personalized URL is simply a unique domain constituting a personalized landing page by which feedback can be collected from a direct mail or email marketing piece. In the old days of VDP (starting in the late 90’s) PURLs were unique and fairly simple to implement by the PSP. It did not require huge investment and gave feedback to the PSP’s clients on the effectiveness of the marketing campaign. Unfortunately, PURLS have become obsolete in most circles due to the fact that people just don’t or won’t take the time to answer a survey or go to a landing page. People prefer to have content pushed at them as opposed to having to take that extra step and go to a URL and have to key in information that has no benefit or little incentive for them.
HP Indigo – the family of HP Industrial Digital presses purchased from Benny Landa who is the inventor of the only press that uses a fluid instead of toner. Designers and print buyers who are accustomed to ink on paper look and feel usually prefer an Indigo print over toner based machines.
Igen – The family of Xerox Industrial Digital presses. IGen’s are toner based derived from Xerography technology. IGens clients are less discriminating than Indigo clients and are often direct mail buyers or those more interested in the “turn” part of the equation as opposed to the look and feel of the print mimicking that of conventional offset.
CMO – Chief Marketing Officer
MSP – Marketing Services Provider