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Beyond Swag Part 1: Variable-Data X

On October 5th, 2017, I had the privilege of sharing my thoughts on how new technology can help us build better branded experiences with the fine folks at PSDA's P2P Technology Summit. Over the coming days I will be posting a series of three posts that sums up my presentation. This is the first. Enjoy!

My Technology Approach

I'm a geeky guy and jump at the chance to play with something new. But, while I do enjoy jumping headfirst into emerging technologies, I consider two important questions before exploring further.

1. Will this technology provide a net-positive in our lives?

Have you ever considered how science fiction drives innovation? For example, in the classic, Back to the Future II, the world got a it's first glimpse of the iconic hover board.

One of those non-hoverboards.
No not this.

The year was 2015 and Marty McFly was zooming through the streets of Hill Valley. We told ourselves, "If only we could make it to the distant future of 2015, we'll do the same." Well, 2015 came and went and still no hover board. See, sci-fi has a knack for driving consumer expectation. You saw it in Star Trek, too. Remember the replicator?


Now we've got 3D printers. Tablet computers, wireless communication devices, tricorders – it's not hard to see how such an influential franchise has helped to shape the future-world that we find ourselves in today.

Science Fiction also helps us to think through the hard questions concerning how technology will change our lives – for better or for worse. Replicators, for example, present the opportunity for a world without scarcity. No hunger, no lack, no chefs, no manufacturers... no jobs? How do we deal with that?

When evaluating new technology, I attempt to determine if there is a net-positive after considering all the ramifications. Will every day be ice-cream day like the image above or will we end up like this...

The jelly people from Wall-ELack of scarcity gone horribly wrong.

Once I get my head around the risks and rewards presented I move on to the second question.

2. Is there a risk for disruptions present?

In an earlier career, I worked in video production. One of the services we offered was the creation of "picumentaries." We would collect our client's photos, video clips and a selection of music and put together quality, motion graphics pieces with our client's content moving over the screen in an intentional and dramatic way. We spent a lot of time on these picumentaries and billed accordingly. Then Animoto came on the scene and ruined our night.

Using software, Animoto automated the process of putting together picumentary-style videos. They did it better, faster and cheaper than we ever could! We were disrupted. Since then, if I spot a technology that I think could do the same, at the very least I give thought to how I could get ahead of it or, more likely, leverage it for my own business.

The technologies discussed in this series are ones that add value to the branded experience, provide opportunities for marketing professionals to build services around these technologies, and will be in-demand soon if not already.

Variable-Data X

If you've been in the print industry for long, you no doubt have heard of variable-data printing (VDP). VDP allows you to take data from an outside source and merge it into printed goods. A very basic example of this is when you get a postcard or direct mail piece with your name on it. The technology for VDP is robust with over 60 software solutions on the market and an 84% participation rate from the print industry.

At ROBYN we've taken this same concept and applied it to Microsoft Office Documents, PDFs and bitmap images. This allows our clients to distribute (via online company stores) personalized Powerpoint presentations, social media images and more while maintaining brand control and collecting analytics on usage.

Our most exciting development in this area is Variable-Data Video.

Variable-Data Video

This solution allows us to collect data from the end user in the form of images, video clips, audio and text and produce a personalized video appropriate for social media, posting to YouTube or even Broadcast applications.

Variable-Data Video offers our clients the same brand control they desire and frees up an incredible amount of time and resources that would otherwise be spent in the editing suite and rendering!

Video is constantly growing in importance to our brand partners. Revenue tied to digital video advertising in the US is expected to grow to over twelve-billion dollars by 2020 (Source: Statista (Digital Market Outlook); ID 460895).

Statista (Digital Market Outlook); ID 460895

Variable-Data Video, dynamic video, personalized video – whatever you call it, offers marketing and communications professionals the opportunity to create personalized, branded experiences on screens of all sizes.

Is it a stretch for those of us in the promotional products business to offer solutions like these? At ROBYN we seek to "Make the creation, availability and delivery of marketing materials powerfully simple." I feel that we are doing that with this technology and the others I'll be posting about soon.

Copyright © 2019 Eric Granata