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Ron AmramSenior Media DirectorHeineken USA
Heineken USA plans to put 10% of its media budget into programmatic this year and partnered with TubeMogul, a web video ad technology, in February. Ron Amram, senior media director for Heineken USA, spoke with eMarketer’s Danielle Drolet about the company’s push into programmatic for its Desperados brand and what it means for the creative mindset.
eMarketer: Is programmatic buying redefining what “creative” means?
Ron Amram: Digital unlocks a lot in the creative space. Internally, what we’re trying to do is explain that new media and a new medium can unlock barriers that at least historically have existed with creative.
Go back to when television was launched in the 1950s, when we showed people their first TV spots. The original TV spots were basically radio spots with a billboard. And, people just didn’t know how to do visual. They didn’t have the [skill set].
Today, especially in the US and almost everywhere else we can take video and translate it from TV to digital video. That’s with digital completely unlocked. And now, with programmatic, we are able to literally learn what does well, what people are responding to and gravitating to, and then buy for effect. Essentially, it allows you to put your money on where the consumers are in an immediate fashion.
eMarketer: Is the goal to be able to create the ads themselves on the fly, or simply to have many creative modules available to quickly slot in, in real time?
Amram: To be honest, that’s not the initial objective. For us, programmatic is about being smarter about targeting and in measuring impact. We’re not simply measuring media TV junkies, per se, but instead we’re looking at what it does to our brands and consumers. Also, we’re looking to potentially save money.
eMarketer: How does the creative work in programmatic?
Amram: Honestly, it takes time to develop that creative muscle. We ask both our brand people and our creative agencies to think differently. It doesn’t happen overnight and is something that’s learned. What we may find is that what is creativity for one brand is not the same for another because of our wide portfolio.
Everyone has a different spin on what their brand’s voice is going to be. We’re not prescriptive on the expectation of creativity. And, it may not change much for one brand, while it may be drastic for another brand.
eMarketer: What’s the difference between programmatic creative and dynamic creative?
Amram: My view of programmatic creative is customized delivery of the message to the right person. It’s not necessarily creating things on the fly, or real-time creative.
One is more about applying data and understanding the person, while the other is listening and reacting rapid fire. They are two different tools that can be incredibly powerful. They are applied similarly but with two different skill sets.
eMarketer: Can you share an example of how programmatic creative with personalization works?
Amram: Take our Desperados brand. It’s a large, fast-growing brand in Europe that we brought to the Southeast in the US last year. It’s a tequila barrel aged beer, and we position it as a high-energy nightlife brand. It’s not the type of beer that you drink in the afternoon on a Sunday or one that you’re going to buy a lot of in a grocery store. But, if you’re out on a Thursday night, rather than a Saturday night, and you’re out late, it’s probably a good beer to pick.
So, Desperados has a very, very specific consumer set, mindset and drinking occasion tied to it. And, it’s geographically narrow. A traditional media or even regular digital Yahoo or a YouTube homepage takeover doesn’t really make much sense.
With programmatic you have the ability to target people at a specific time and geography, along with a history of consumption, including content behavior like what they’re doing, whether they’re searching for the next bar or nightclub or what artist that they want to go see. With those types of searches, all of a sudden, programmatic becomes extremely powerful and can unlock the creative. And even if it’s not real-time creative, you can be very targeted to that person.
eMarketer: What are the big questions the industry has about the role of creative within programmatic buying?
Amram: How much does it unlock?
It takes several full-time jobs for a level of creating and customizing 20, 30 or 40 different versions of the same campaign and then do it in real time, where we’re actually tweaking things based on what people are saying and reacting to and what’s happening in the news that day. All of a sudden, you’re adding complexity. But, what is it getting?
How much does customization and one-to-one interaction with the consumer increase your effectiveness of the campaign? That’s the real question because there’s obviously a cost and an energy associated with that level of sophistication in the creative process. Coming up with one big idea and hammering it out there on national television or video is a lot easier. Before jumping into this, brands have to think about testing and learning.
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