Heineken could move to 50-50 TV/digital split within two years, says US media boss Ron Amram

Heineken has adopted a data-driven marketing approach to hone in on what media is working and to inform its creative, a process which could see it bump up its digital spend to half of its budget within two years, according to its senior media director in the US Ron Amram.

Speaking to the Drum after participating in a Tubemogul session at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Amram said it is difficult to predict how much digital spend will increase over the next few years, but that in two years’ time it could be “even” with its TV budget, which currently accounts for half of its spend.

Heineken has already increased its digital budget from less than 10 per cent to 30 per cent in the last four years, during which time it has been using precision-based marketing to predict where it can reduce media wastage and inform its own creative messaging.

Amram stressed that TV has played critical role in building its brand to be the global business it is today. Despite the fact that TV is still a driver of its business, he admitted that it will become "less effective" for the brand over time. "Using data to be smarter in that [TV] space is something we are craving to do, because it seems to make an impact everywhere we put it, so there is no reason to think we wouldn’t so it in the TV space too,” he added.

He predicted that the “transition from TV to digital” will happen faster in the US than in other countries, and that it will be a “gradual” shift, but one that is “continuous” and “consistent”.

“We already don’t talk about TV and digital anymore, we talk about video. There is still some benefit to TV, like there is no fraud and concerns around viewability are much more limited. If you have great content people continue to watch, whereas in digital you can open up a different browser etc – there are all sorts of other issues. The more you look at digital the more you realise how great TV is. But at the end of the day consumers are not treating TV as the first screen anymore – it’s evolving.

“Right now it [budget] is still more TV than digital, but two years from now it could be even, and four years I don’t know. We are getting to the point where we can measure what media is working and what isn’t and optimise our media mix, which is something large CPGs have had a hard time with historically, but we are getting to that now.”

He outlined that as an alcohol brand it is unable to maintain the same first-party data as non-alcoholic brands, which has meant programmatic advertising has enabled it to tap into data to inform its decisions - both in terms of what creative it should be making and media distribution.

“We have never created huge databases of consumers’ email addresses for example, and so in that sense we can’t really learn what is working and what isn’t for consumers and how they are responding to our brands - we have relied on other people to tell us that. But what programmatic allows you to do very quickly is learn, and respond to these insights to make your advertising and marketing more effective and then take that information and be more effective on the media side.

“Right now what we are doing is making our media more effective and gathering more on our campaigns. In the near future that is going to affect our creative and what storylines really resonate with our brands and what doesn’t.”

Heineken, which is Cannes Lions 2015 Creative Marketer of the Year, spent $150m on measured media for its US business last year, according to Kantar Media,

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