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Albert Heijn’s Steffie Abdelrazek on how to approach digital in-store advertising campaigns through Creative Automation 

Digital Screens Team Lead Steffie Abdelrazek talks to us about the use of digital advertising in highly localised in-store advertising campaigns at Albert Heijn and explains the importance of a personalised ad experience in the seemingly unnoticeable activity of grocery shopping.

If there is one thing that most modern advertisers can agree on, is that the more personalised the ad experience gets, the better it performs.

When it comes to Albert Heijn, the largest grocery store chain in the Netherlands as it holds 35.9% of the market share, making in-store digital ads feel personal sounds like a challenge. Grocery shopping is about personal preference. Therefore, advertising to the individual in a store that caters to everyone is difficult. But by creating a digital ad campaign that makes use of dynamic elements through Creative Automation, the question is no longer “how can I do this?” but rather, “when can I start?”. 

How can you create a personal connection with customers in the limited space of in-store grocery shopping? In an industry where at first glance there is not much creativity within in-store advertising, we talked to Steffie to learn how Albert Heijn approached a localised digital ad campaign from beginning to end focusing on local football teams. This store marketing campaign turned grocery shopping from being an everyday task into a fun activity for the shopper, with the ultimate goal of increasing sales for Albert Heijn. 

Hi Steffie, I am excited to chat with you today. First, could you share a bit about yourself and your role at Albert Heijn?

Steffie: Of course. I am Steffie, 31 years old and new mum of a lovely little girl and married to a lovely man. I enjoy reading, watching how to’s on Youtube (knitting, building side tables, growing tomatoes, etc.), gaming and the very Dutch custom “borrelen”, which loosely translates to having drinks and bites with friends. 

At Albert Heijn I lead the ‘Digital Screens Team’, which takes care of all the non-branded marketing content that’s visible on the digital in-store screens. Picture product videos during Easter/Christmas and other seasonal events, but also weekly promotions, shop-in-shops and discount programs.

What is your approach to in-store advertising? 

Steffie: Less is more, definitely. Or at least finding the sweet spot between overkill and unremarkable. This depends of course on the subject, resources and goals of the campaign(s), but generally, I think it comes down to balancing all the required messages to a coherent and easy-to-digest whole. In the end, customers come to do their groceries, not to read novels, educate themselves and/or watch movies, you want to guide them in what to buy without too much hassle.

Less is more, definitely. Finding the sweet spot between overkill and unremarkable. It comes down to balancing all the required messages to a coherent and easy-to-digest whole.

Steffie Abdelrazek, Digital Screens Lead at Albert Heijn

What was the process of creating the dynamic banners for the AH stores? Could you walk us through the journey? 

Steffie: Wow, it was a rollercoaster. It was very clear what we wanted the dynamic banners to do, it was a little harder to actually get it to work. The idea of the campaign “Voetbalpassie” (Meaning football passion) was to trigger customers to collect points for their local football clubs, by showing them the logos of the clubs on the storefront screens, based on a 10 km radius. We had all the data of the demographics and setting up all the localised versions proved pretty easy thanks to the Storyteq platform, but getting the videos to go live via our CMS not so much. Thanks to the incredible patience and perseverance of the ST team, we finally found a way to get the videos live on all our storefronts.

That sounds intense. What are the benefits of dynamic banners in the AH stores? Could you share some of your results after launching this campaign? 

Steffie: It was the first time doing this, which makes analysing its success, or saying anything about the results, difficult. Right now it functions as a great benchmark for future projects. We know customers experienced the campaign as incredibly sympathetic and the clubs were grateful for every euro they gained. As you can imagine, the dynamic banners were only one part of a much larger campaign and we are still figuring out how to measure the individual results.

What we do know, is that this achievement is a massive step forward for our organisation and the possibilities in offering localised, dynamic content.

Who is your target audience for this campaign and how did you address customers in a personalised way?

Steffie: Our target demographic is essentially everyone who is loyal to a football club. We showed the logos of all the clubs within a 10 km radius of the Albert Heijn, to a max of eight logos. So, let’s say you visit an Albert Heijn in Amsterdam city centre, you see the logos of clubs in that area. If the next day you are in Rotterdam, you see a completely different set of club logos. Assuming you shop near your home and you, your father, daughter, nephew or friend, play football close to home, chances are you would see a logo you recognise. That’s a direct incentive to collect points (entirely digitally I might add) and support that club.

In your campaigns, you’re also working on implementing ‘dynamic discounting’ to fight food waste. Could you share more information about this initiative? How did you plan it and how did you achieve it at scale?

Steffie: Let me start by saying that I, personally, did not plan this, but was part of a larger team from all subdisciplines within the organisation that collectively made this happen. My team is responsible for the look of the Electronic Shelf Labels (ESLs) and was asked to find a way to communicate dynamic discounting, clearly and attractively.

The idea is that food that is close to its expiration date becomes less appealing to customers unless, of course, it results in a discount. So our system is fed the data on all of our products’ expiration dates and subsequently discounts them based on the date of today.

Once we were all in agreement on the new look, our IT department implemented the changes on the ESLs for all stores and we were live.

How did the Storyteq Creative Automation platform come into play to help you create this type of campaign at scale? 

Steffie: Our company had worked with Storyteq in the past, so we were aware of the possibilities. It really was more a matter of time before we found the right campaign to use, where localised content would actually add to the experience of the marketing strategy. Once we did, we immediately contacted Eline, your Sr. Project Manager at Storyteq,  for the options and she (and the whole team) helped us develop the campaign. In the end, we were able to set up approximately 1000 unique videos playing locally and automatically across the whole country, with – ultimately – only a few clicks of a button. Pretty cool.

Thanks, Steffie for the interview. For similar pieces featuring industry leaders and their insights, you can subscribe to our newsletter below. To connect with Steffie, follow her on LinkedIn.

Feb 3, 2022

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