The path from web-to-print to web-to-publish

Classic web-to-print applications have already been in use for years and help users to handle print processes efficiently. But output channels and technologies are constantly evolving. Self-service publishing tools combine classic and digital media production. Whether print or digital - you decide yourself what content you want to output and in what form. You have access to all your drafts at any time and can maintain data centrally and transmit it to your partners at any time. This way, you always have an overview.

Why web-to-publish is increasingly displacing classic web-to-print

Web-to-print is not new per se. However, as the name suggests, the term refers exclusively to workflows that are required to produce products for users to print. In traditional marketing, this was the only form of advertising for a long time. However, customers and systems continue to evolve, so the need for additional output channels and forms of advertising has also changed as digitalization has progressed. With web-to-publish, it is possible to publish independently of the output channel, the advertising medium and the type of medium. And all within one system.

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Why use self-service publishing?

The creation of advertising materials requires years of experience in various graphic and design tools as well as training in design or print. Self-service publishing makes it possible to create marketing materials for various channels quickly and easily without these requirements.

  • Work independently - Use the possibilities of publishing tools and work independently of external partners, such as advertising agencies or a printer, without needing graphic or IT skills.
  • Centralized management - keep track of your marketing campaigns and assets. You can create new designs individually or adapt templates from existing campaigns and create new content for print and digital in a matter of seconds.

What does self-service mean?

A self-service application is a website or marketing portal designed to help complete processes or transactions without external help (e.g. from agencies). In terms of operation, it is similar to a store system or a comparable solution.

Today's marketing processes require ever shorter turnaround times and a higher degree of individualization of all advertising media - both print and digital. Furthermore, the publishing sector is shifting from large print runs to targeted on-demand productions.

Self-service publishing allows you to cover acute needs on an ad hoc basis and respond quickly to new marketing requirements - without external help and waiting times.

Functions at a glance

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Time and cost saving

The creation of marketing materials at the push of a button saves time and reduces costs.

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Easy to use

Work comfortably in the browser and independently of additional software or graphics skills.

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Central data management

Use the user, customer and rights management to keep an overview of all data.

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Connection to external systems

It is possible to connect your company's existing marketing systems, such as databases or a store, to the marketing portal.

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Digital and print

Whether for the production of printed matter or for digital advertising - play out advertising messages in different channels and systems.

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Barcodes and much more

Create barcodes (EAN, QR etc.) automatically within the design process. Always up to date.

Goals of self-service publishing

In areas where suitable advertising messages need to be formulated and displayed quickly and flexibly on demand, e.g. for social media or trade fairs, self-service publishing tools offer an important relief for specialist departments . The intuitive application enables customers to create the required advertising materials in a cost- and time-saving manner.

Another important goal is the centralization of marketing activities. Globally active companies in particular can benefit from this. Using statistics and tracking functions, they can see at any time how their marketing campaigns are being used and can constantly sharpen their marketing portfolio and brand by getting in touch with users. At the same time, it is ensured at all times that the templates comply with the company's own design specifications for digital and print channels.

Why is self-service publishing worthwhile beyond web-to-print?

Digitalization is constantly offering new marketing opportunities. In addition to traditional channels such as posters, ad placements or flyers and brochures, there is a wide range of digital playout options. For example, companies now have a social media presence for which online banners have to be created regularly. Print is no longer the only option for advertisements either. However, the following applies to all channels - digital or print: the company's image must be consistent and comply with the CI specifications.

The non-profit organization "Two Sides" conducted a study together with the independent market research company "Toluna" on "Consumer perception of print and paper". It showed that 51% of consumers intend to read more news online in the future, compared to 40% in 2019. Nevertheless, print remains an important medium. Around 40% of respondents would be concerned if daily newspapers disappeared.

The study shows that traditional print publications are still in demand, but that companies need to adopt a hybrid approach to their marketing communication . Self-service publishing tools, which enable digital content to be played out in addition to classic web-to-print functions, help here.

Application example of self-service publishing

An example of a typical process in a self-service publishing system usually looks like this:

Sales staff in the field need business cards for a trade fair. Instead of ordering these centrally via their graphics department, they can conveniently request personalized documents via their web browser.

Using a marketing portal, they select the right template from all the available templates. The content is automatically populated from the central master data management system. This means that a wide variety of templates can be commissioned and ordered directly in just a few seconds.

The cards are produced on demand by the print service provider or can be downloaded and sent as a PDF file, for example.

How do you approach a self-service publishing project?

3 steps to a successful self-service publishing system:

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The needs or requirements for the system are evaluated during a workshop. Which systems are currently in use and how can the customer be provided with the best possible information? Where can the use of a self-service publishing system offer added value to employees and customers, and how can information be distributed in a targeted manner in order to achieve the company's own communication goals?


As part of the joint development of scenarios, the actual templates are worked out alongside user and rights systems and a user story is developed - from the creation of the template to the transfer of production data to external service providers such as a print shop or other systems.


Once the application scenario has been designed, the next step is to find a powerful technology to implement it.

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Our conclusion

The use of a self-service publishing system can help to design, create and target marketing messages even more effectively and efficiently.

Above all, self-service publishing is characterized by massive time savings compared to traditional, manual marketing processes. For example, the use of web-to-print can lead to the closer integration of external service providers into workflows and thus achieve seamless communication and greater process reliability.

Sounds complicated? Our experts at netzwerk P can guide you safely to your goal when dealing with web-to-print and web-to-publish projects. Our solution has been tried and tested by medium-sized companies and corporate clients.

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Patrick Tosolini, Projects

I look forward to your questions and exciting conversations.