How Heineken Plans To Use Location Ads, Beacons, And Shazam To Augment Wider Marketing Programs

Heineken isn’t interested in being in the beacon business; it just wants to make that one-to-one connection to drive a purchase.

Brands have to become experts in the latest targeting and consumer analytics tools. Amberly Hilinski, marketing manager at Heineken USA, accepts that responsibility to a certain extent.

But, as a panelist at proximity specialist inMarket’s SxSW panel on the concept of making points-of-purchase into “Smart Places,” Hilinski also made it clear that brands need to focus on what they do best — in Heineken’s place, that means selling beer — and letting the platforms, companies, retailers, and venues it partners with prove that they each deserve its business.

In terms of looking at technology, Hilinski discussed plans to work with Shazam on using location targeting to create engaging content that can be tied back to in-store sales, as well as working with indoor and outdoor venues about the role of beacons as the music festival season gets underway.

GeoMarketing: You noted that Heineken is selective about the platforms it partners with. What’s the value in partnering with Shazam?

Amberly Hilinski: For one thing, Shazam’s technology is seamless when it comes to engaging with consumers. In most digital marketing, the default is text in to engage. Or it’s about trying to send someone a website or somehow getting them to stop looking at the site they’re on and go somewhere else. Shazam has broadened its capabilities and they’re still in educating the marketplace and consumers.

What makes Shazam so easy to partner with is that so many people already have the app. They know what to do with it. And it just makes the four-step or three steps process at most to make that brand connection. It helps us get a little bit closer to actual purchase. As a CPG brand, especially in the beer industry, we’re selling through retailers, and apps like Shazam can help track engagement and determine if a particular tactic drove purchase of a pack of beer.

How are the plans shaping up?

In terms of the Shazam partnership, we’re still the early days. It may be until the holidays that we can really get it off the ground. But overall, what it delivers for us is the closest approximation of a purchase that we can do. We have card data from some retailers, but not everyone uses a card. When we have an engagement, particularly if it’s in store, you don’t have to purchase data. You can scan the package, but that’s it. For us, it’s a challenge because we don’t have that 100 percent, accurate, one-to-one correlation of did this drive the purchase.

The goal with Shazam is to get greater sense of our engagement numbers and see if we can isolate variables and study which moves led to higher sales lift.

Shazam’s direct connection to consumers and where they are at a given moment can fill in some significant blanks.

It does fill in some blanks, but the point I was hoping to try to convey was that it’s never one tactic. But as great as Shazam is, you can’t say that 3 percent of the reason someone bought it was due to that. Obviously, we work through an entire host of tactics and a lot of times a lot of different vendors too to get to that final purchase.

We have to be very careful, so I leave it to the analytics team to really make sure we’re constructing our studies in a way that we can feel confident that we’ve factored in enough of the variables, that a particular marketing program actually lifted sales.

As we get to music festival season, the competition between beer brands becomes particularly intense. Over the past year, beacons have become more prominent in large venues and outdoor sites as a way for brands to connect with people in large crowds. Does Heineken view the use of beacons as an experiment as the season approaches or do you view it as a necessary tool in your marketing arsenal?

We’re relying on our partners right now, whether it a Ticketmaster venue, it’s Coachella. We do question whether developing the proprietary platforms to use beacons more formally in a branded Heineken app. Do we really going down that road? It hadn’t really made sense to us to date because it just doesn’t seem to be adding a value and you have the challenge of purchases.

Instead, when it comes to using beacons, we’ve decided to work with the top 20 or 30 retail/shopping apps. From there, we can aggregate them and then use that to create scale for one-to-one messaging via beacons for a particular program. We did that last fall when we were promoting the James Bond film (Spectre), where we were able to tie in messages and related offers from various parts of the campaign to the store environment.

What are the challenges for a brand like Heineken when it comes to using beacons? Is it strictly to assist performance-based marketing or is it part of the brand affinity focus as well?

As a beer brand, we don’t sell direct-to-consumer. We’re different from a brand like Target, that may benefit from having an app that has a beacon layer embedded in it that actually leads to direct purchase.

But what we can do is partner with a brand like that and find opportunities to really add value to consumers. The point we’re making is that we don’t want to saturate our consumer. We want digital touchpoints to drive value.

If a platform company is at an event, we’ll pick and choose and work whether to work with them. But it all comes down to being able to find what the right moments are to get the right message in front of someone without being obtrusive — or worse, landing the wrong message and then just having someone totally opt out. You can easily lose a consumer if they think you clearly don’t understand what it is they need. Our criteria for partners is this: find ways that we can use their apps, their first party data in order to serve up that right message.

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David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.