Truly individualized magazine covers have arrived

Finally, marketers can target readers with both variable magazine covers and variable advertising.

Toronto-based Fujifilm Canada and Terminal Van Gogh have jointly developed what they believe to be the first fully variable magazine cover. Aimed at tailoring art and advertising for individual readers, the technique is a breakthrough, says John Zarwin, spokesman for Graphic Arts, a printing industry magazine whose October edition is the first example of the new technology in action.

Customized magazine covers aren’t new, but the production of the covers for Graphic Arts‘s new issue was more complex than what’s gone before. The level of individualization went beyond simple names and addresses; inside and outside front and back covers were all customized based on each subscriber’s position, and their company’s size, location and type of business within the printing industry.

Each front cover features variable Fujifilm ads with pictures of the subscriber’s local Fujifilm account representative and messaging based on whether the subscriber is a current Fujifilm customer, plus sales territory and customer status. Tailoring these variable messages with the different cover themes increased both the complexity of the project and its effectiveness, says Zarwin.

The inside front cover showed how such a highly relevant, data-driven cover was generated for each recipient, emphasizing how targeted each cover was.

The inside back cover reinforced the relevance of variable advertising. The people shown in the ad changed based on Fujifilm sales territories. Each subscriber’s actual Fujifilm team was shown – including the sales rep, installation manager, service person, training manager, tech support person and administration contact – the purpose being to build and reinforce business relationships.

And the back cover contains two ads from companies that were involved in the production, RP Graphics and Data Business Solutions, personalized with each subscriber’s name and company.

Fujifilm initiated the project, bringing in industry expert Terminal Van Gogh, a marketing and database specialist, for creative, programming and production. After the creative was finished, the first step was for the magazine to provide TVG with subscription information. TVG then extracted key demographic information and overlaid the combined database with Fujifilm’s own customer database.

TVG CEO David Murdoch says the process generated more than 428,000 different covers and combinations – not including names and addresses. The bottom line for marketers, he adds, is, ‘You no longer have to fit a square peg into a round hole.’