Count Ron Amram, senior media director at Heineken USA, among the growing list of mobile marketing believers. He points to the recent success of the U.S. launch of Desperados, a tequila-flavored, barrel-aged beer brand.
Because Desperados is billed as a “night out” beer, Heineken wanted to reach people Thursday through Sunday, somewhere between 6 and 10 p.m. (or even later), when they were either planning their night or going from one club to the next to connect with friends. Heineken launched the brand in the Southeast using traditional media, including local television. “But when we layered in hyper-local targeting by time of day, week, and location, it led us to mobile,” Amram says. The result: Within three months of the campaign’s launch, awareness of the Desperados brand jumped from 0% to 23%.
“For the right target and opportunity, mobile makes a tremendous amount of sense,” says Amram, a featured speaker at the ANA Mobile First, Mobile Everywhere Conference, Dec. 2 in New York City. “In fact, we can support our retailers with specific campaigns, promotions, and offers. And now we’re looking into couponing.” He shares more insight on the impact of mobile to brand marketing.
Q. Are you allocating more budget to mobile? How does mobile fit in the overall marketing mix at Heineken?
A. We are increasing our media investment in mobile, including in our big portals and platforms. As our overall digital spend increases, we are seeing better engagement and better sales results, especially with social and video. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have quickly become top 10 vendors for us across our whole suite of brands. A majority of campaigns on those channels are now optimized for mobile, and Twitter is almost 100% mobile. Mobile has proven to be extremely powerful, even within our existing platform buys.
We were one of the first alcohol companies to jump into Foursquare in a big way. Through geo-targeting and geo-fencing, we now have the ability to advertise in a super-targeted way, depending on where people are, where they are going, and how close they are to your product and retailer. It’s a layer of intelligence that we’ve never been able to leverage as effectively before. We call it “path-to-purchase media.” It’s incredibly effective because you can measure sales at specific locations that you’ve fenced off and measure awareness at the point of purchase. Mobile can live at the top of the funnel, but also drive people through the funnel in ways that are different from other media platforms. Television is still extremely effective, but it can’t touch mobile in that way.
Q. Are you using real-time data to inform your marketing decisions?
A. The alcohol category, in general, is not data rich. It’s a struggle to get good data. Mobile allows us to fuel a lot of data because it brings us closer to the retailer. We’re not using real-time data to make decisions just yet. That will change once we become more of a programmatic player and have media-optimization capabilities that leverage response data, purchase data, and brand-health data on a real-time basis. Data is extremely important, and mobile is part of that ecosystem.
Q. How are you measuring the impact of your mobile spend? Is measurement a challenge?
A. I don’t think measuring mobile is any more challenging than measuring other media. With traditional media, everyone still relies on marketing mixed modeling because you can effectively measure media types that have scale. With mobile, we’ve been able to measure path-to-purchase retail campaigns, as well as mobile impressions versus desktop/digital impressions in large-scale portal buys. We work with vendors that can literally show you which campaigns are working better for which retailers within each market. Because we focus so much on awareness-building media, mobile has been a breath of fresh air and very enlightening.
Q. What have you found most surprising about the mobile space?
A. Everyone thought the smaller screen would be more of a challenge for creative in terms of effectiveness and response because you had to create different assets for different mobile devices. But because people focus on one thing under their thumb at a time, mobile has proven to be much more effective than originally thought. That’s what is most surprising to me. Versus the traditional desktop, mobile is about three to five times more effective in terms of engagement, three to five times more effective in terms of ROI. It’s a significant paradigm shift. If you’re a traditional digital company or a portal, you’re probably sitting fine because you’re benefitting from the growth in the mobile area. But you have to think long and hard about how to get better in the mobile space, how to push more of your digital into mobile. At Heineken, we’re looking to build scale and reach on the mobile side and shift impressions out of desktop to optimize the mobile space. That will drive improved effectiveness.
Q. How would you characterize the mobile habits of consumers? Are they accepting of marketing messages?
A. People have an emotional connection to their devices, much like they have with characters in their favorite TV programs. The mobile device is incredibly personal — it’s an extension of your hand. It has become the remote control to your own life, an access portal into everything you do. It is replacing the newspaper, the desktop phone, the computer, etc. People can’t live without their mobile devices anymore because they allow you to connect to so many different things.
I think consumers are less accepting of mobile marketing messages than other forms of advertising. Given the screen size of mobile devices, the margin for error is much smaller. People aren’t comfortable sharing their screen with advertisers. You have to be sure your ads aren’t violating the content. Think about Facebook: they have been very, very strict in terms of how many ads people see in their newsfeeds, yet people still complain. That’s the inherent danger with mobile advertising, and marketers need to be cognizant of that.