Consumers today are bombarded with thousands of promotional messages on a daily basis, from television and radio ads to out-of-home advertising, e-mails, and Web ads. Marketers face the challenge of communicating their messages in a way that cuts through this clutter and elicits a desired response in recipients. This response can range from simply recognizing the brand to changing investment strategies or purchasing the latest product or service that the marketer represents. Increasingly, marketers are using the tried and true monthly communications medium—the statement—as well as other transactional documents in innovative ways to ensure that their messages are being noticed. This type of communication is called transpromotional, or TransPromo, advertising and it created a significant buzz at this year's Graph Expo.

TransPromo: A Growth Opportunity

Overall, the use of digital color to produce transaction documents is on the rise. In research conducted by InfoTrends in 2002,  39.1% of document owner respondents reported using digital color in the production of transaction documents, and that number climbed to 45.8% in our 2006 research . It was estimated that 10.6% of total transaction document volume was printed in full digital color in 2002. Our 2006 study found that this percentage had grown to 22.9% in 2005, and this value was projected to reach 33% by 2010. As the use of full color continues to grow, marketers are looking for more ways to leverage their investments to make statements and other transactional documents more effective. They are increasing the efficacy of these materials by providing an integrated customer experience and using these transaction documents as a marketing platform.

As evidenced by the high level of interest in this area, the TransPromo market is poised to explode. InfoTrends' research indicates that the total TransPromo full color digital output for North America was 1.62 billion equivalent images in 2006. We forecast this number to increase at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 91% to reach 21.72 billion images by 2010. This growth will be driven by advances in digital printing equipment in terms of speed, cost, and quality. Continued market adoption will also spur growth as organizations seek to exploit technology to drive loyalty, brand recognition, and profits.

Demonstrating Integrated TransPromo Solutions

As visitors walked the floor and visited equipment suppliers' booths at this year's Graph Expo, they found software partners that were well positioned to deliver integrated transpromotional solutions.

Xerox printed TransPromo applications across its array of full color, highlight color, and monochrome production equipment—including the iGen3, the DocuTech HighLight Color System, the Nuvera Digital Production System, and the DocuPrint Continuous Feed printer.
The example below illustrates how Xerox (in combination with GMC's PrintNet T) has employed TransPromo advertising. Other retail companies that have standardized on an AFP/IPDS architecture can also cross-sell using a transpromotional approach.

According to Deborah Cantabene, Vice President of Workflow Marketing for Xerox's Production Systems Group, "Xerox sees the TransPromo market evolving to a place where inserts will no longer accompany the most critical monthly bills/statements. Every transaction document will contain targeted, meaningful marketing messages and these materials will be generated in paper and electronic form."

Hal Morrow, GMC's Chief Marketing Officer, indicated that color management is critical to the acceptance of TransPromo. He stated, "As TransPromo gains acceptance and momentum within the financial, retail, insurance, and healthcare industries, marketers will use color to maximize the impact of communications and drive desired responses from customer segments. With a long-standing presence in the outsource provider market (direct mail, commercial print, service bureaus), GMC has developed a strong color offering to meet the needs of this marketplace. An important differentiator is our ability to handle CMYK to CMYK color matching without the intervention and conversion of a middle RGB step. All other available composition tools convert CMYK to RGB and then back to CMYK. In doing so, fonts are rendered as color images, causing a degradation in quality. Marketers that are used to working with offset printing will desire and insist on higher quality and higher fidelity color support for digital printing in the long run."
InfoPrint Solutions Company introduced its long-awaited end-to-end AFP-based full color solution at Graph Expo. This technology enables users in the transpromotional and direct mail industries to produce full color variable data applications with high quality graphics and halftones at 916 letter-sized impressions per minute. The implementation of the AFP Color Consortium's standards in InfoPrint Solutions Company's print server technology (InfoPrint Manager and InfoPrint ProcessDirector), composition partner software (Exstream, GMC, and others), and its new AFP controller for the InfoPrint 5000 drop-on-demand production color printer is designed to shorten the TransPromo application development cycle and ensure accurate color rendering with reliability, error recovery, and ease of operation.
InfoPrint also produced TransPromo applications on its latest InfoPrint 5000 at Graph Expo, illustrating the range of flesh tones, tints, and metallics available at 209.9 feet per minute.
Earlier this year, Exstream released Dialogue Live (a document customization tool for customer-facing employees) and Dialogue 6.0 (includes over 250 enhancements). During Graph Expo, InfoPrint and Exstream collaborated to provide a demonstration of dynamic white space management for producing targeted messaging applications on TransPromo documents. InfoPrint and Exstream Dialogue also illustrated how users can take control of their operations through automation to deliver the right message to the right person on time, while improving output integrity.

Exstream also highlighted some unique campaign management and advanced campaign capabilities. For example, the company showcased Dialogue, with which a targeted marketing message might only be incorporated if it does not require the use of an additional page, which would exceed the postage weight limit set for a piece. Or, a specific message might automatically be sent on the next document based on the customer's previous response (or lack thereof) when using Dialogue.
Another exhibitor at Graph Expo, Océ powers its families of digital printing systems with PRISMA workflow and software tools, which facilitate designing and composing variable data documents. Océ's Document Designer Advanced software provides a solution for creating targeted customer communications quickly and cost-effectively. It is designed to simplify and automate the document composition process—from marketing concept and document design to data preparation and print production—and has the design and data handling capabilities that are necessary to create effective and customized documents.

According to Guy Broadhurst, Senior Vice President of Product Marketing for Océ North America's Commercial Printing Division, "Customers who want to print TransPromo documents can use any of the Océ VarioPrint 6000 models or VarioStream 7000 or 9000 product families. At Graph Expo, the Océ VarioStream 9710 system printed a Bank4Life black & white transpromotional application for the financial services industry. The Océ VarioStream 7650cx produced 2/1 black and orange mileage statements enriched with targeted messages and coupons, demonstrating streamlined printing of transpromotional jobs."

In addition, the Océ ColorStream 10000 made its debut at Graph Expo. This device supports everything from black & white to full-process color plus CustomTone in a single machine. The Océ ColorStream 10000 is a continuous-feed, full-color machine that produces full process color at 172 images per minute. It prints three-over-three at 231 ipm, two-over-two at 353 ipm, and black & white at 852 ipm. Broadhurst stated, "This product is perfectly suited for high-volume, transpromotional printing."
Kodak's TransPromo suite at Graph Expo featured a fictitious travel company called AltaVista. The application suite illustrated applications that could help recipients enjoy vacations to the fullest because they are crafted individually. The exhibit incorporated materials ranging from TransPromo bills generated on the Versamark 5000e to postcards produced on the NexPress 3000.

Kodak also demonstrated TransPromo applications with a number of partners around the floor. Pitney Bowes featured BlueStar Bank applications that were programmed in Doc1, processed with Emtex, generated in Kodak's Dayton facility on its Vseries, and finished on the show floor. BlueStar Bank shows how you can start with a great information design and evolve the TransPromo story over time. Kodak also partnered with MegaSpirea to communicate the value of implementing TransPromo messaging on the outside of the envelope and following up with TransPromo messaging on the transaction document inside the envelope in a consistent manner.

Trans Meets Promo

While the preceding list is not all-inclusive, suppliers on the show floor clearly demonstrated that TransPromo provides an opportunity to blend marketing messages with those must-read transaction statements, invoices, confirmations, benefits explanations, and other notifications to influence behavior and ultimately drive business volume. There consumer preference for direct mail as the primary method of contact for marketing and promotional purposes is clear. These communications must be relevant—and consumers prefer personalized offers on the faces of statements (onserts) over inserts.

In today's environment, marketers must deliver ROI, brand consistency, and relevance. TransPromo fulfills these requirements with the use of a single communication vehicle. Affordability is another pertinent issue that is leading to the growth of TransPromo applications: if you can get a transaction and promotional message across in a single transpromotional document, why send two?

The applications and solutions exhibited at this year's Graph Expo event have illustrated that TransPromo is ready for prime time. The last obstacle, therefore, is education. The challenge for all of us in the aftermath of Graph Expo is to enlighten marketers with the knowledge that there is a better way to communicate their messages. Spread the word… Trans has met Promo, and the result is effective and relevant communication!