The Technology Heineken Uses To Sell More Beer

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(This post originally appeared on Forbes)

Want a cold one? Make it a Heineken, please.

That’s what Ron Amran, the beer maker’s Senior Media Director wants you to say. His job is to spread awareness of his company’s brand across all things digital. And he’s using some very smart technologies and services to do this. Technologies and services that you can be using too, no matter how big or small your company is.  I spoke with him recently and here are a few things he recommends to help your digital marketing be quicker, better and wiser.

Gratafy

Gratafy is a mobile app that lets people purchase, send and redeem gift cards and menu items at local restaurants. Customers can pick the gift (i.e. beer!), which can then be saved or sent to a friend immediately via email or text (or printed out).

Why Gratafy? “It’s a win-win for everyone,” says Amran. “One of the great barriers for any brand is to get new customers to consider and sample your product. So if you can get someone to touch your brand experientially then you’ve increased the ability for him or her to become a regular customer. Gratafy gives customers the ability to say thanks and “hey, have a beer on me.””

Tubemogul

Tubemogul is an independent software platform that enables brands and agencies to plan, buy, measure and optimize their global advertising, across all channels. The company’s solutions enable customers like Heineken to deliver sophisticated programmatic ad campaigns across digital screens, television and out-of-home channels (like digital billboards).

Technology like this is actually replacing the services of an ad agency with software…and the software is making smarter buying decisions. According to Amran, Tubemogul (which recently went public) also adds a consultative service to its technology offerings and is not owned by any of the large digital platforms, like YouTube or Google. “I want someone who’s independent and skeptical of these platforms,” he says. “These guys have been completely transparent.”

Ibotta

Ibotta allows Heineken to offer rebates to customers, retailers and distributors in a seamless way, while also tracking customer purchases. Users download the app, buy a case of beer, scan the barcode or submit a photo of the receipt and cash is then deposited back to their Ibotta account within 48 hours. Heineken can see who’s buying and also offer videos, interactive polls and other brand-related actions.

According to Amran, rebate tools like this allows you to stay top of mind with your customers and make their shopping experiences even better. And if you can combine a group of these kinds of tools together you can gather data on many customers. “I really like Ibotta, but don’t get married to one tool,” he advises. “You want to mix and match them to use their different strengths and benefits depending on the retailer.”

Blippar

Blippar is cool app that bridges marketing campaigns with custom “augmented reality” content. In other words, it makes mobile ads come to life. With Blippar, images on mobile ads become interactive so that users can launch mobile games, videos, music, polls, images – basically anything a device can do.  Heineken uses Blippar to enable its ads to stand out and drive more interaction with its community. Amran is a big believer that in today’s mobile world, the right kind of technology will bring you even closer to your customer. “So close that you can actually interact with them while they’re shopping.”

Nielsen Catalina and Datalogix

Nielsen Catalina Solutions and Datalogix (now owned by Oracle) is where Amman goes to get data about his customers. Both companies help their customers measure and improve advertising performance by accurately linking what consumers watch, see, or hear (whether on television, the web, in print, or on the radio) with what they buy. With this data, Heineken can deliver purchase-based targeting and drive more sales. In today’s world, very specific data can be purchased for very specific purposes.  There is a lot less guessing about how well your ads are doing, who’s watching them and where your potential customers are.

Do these services cost a lot? They can. But not as much as you think. Amran says you can measure the impact of a campaign for a little as $35,000 – it just depends on your needs and scale. “If you’re a $1 million a year advertiser and trending towards growth and even if you’re a novice in this pace Nielsen or Datalogix would be very a smart move for you,” he says. “They can help you pick out the low hanging fruit.” You can focus on those people that are reacting to your ads and ignore the ones who aren’t. The response is immediate and it’s scaleable.

Marketers often say that 50% of their marketing is working, it’s just figuring out which 50%.  With today’s newest technologies and services, that dilemma is quickly going away.

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