Miller's 'Beer Bucks' Auction Loosens Up Online Visitors

An offline and online promotion has driven 100,000 people to and added 65,000 names to Miller Brewing Co.'s online database since it began May 1.

The Get the Goods promotion uses television, radio and print advertising to get consumers to buy Miller Lite products containing a unique code that they can redeem at to obtain Beer Bucks. They can use the Beer Bucks to bid on sports memorabilia and other merchandise at an auction section of the site or to buy items at the site's online store.

“People are incentivized to go to the store, buy more beer, and then go back to the auction site and increase their account so they can bid on more items or up their bid on an item they're interested in,” said Cathy Kim, product marketing manager for promotional auctions at FairMarket, Woburn, MA, the provider of the auction technology Miller is using.

Miller will donate cash proceeds from the auction to United Cerebral Palsy, the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund and the Adelante U.S. Education Leadership Fund. Consumers also can donate unused Beer Bucks to the charities. Miller will match the Beer Bucks value with cash.

This is the second consecutive year that Miller has used an auction theme to drive online traffic and build its database. Last year's promotion drew 350,000 visitors, including 30,000 who registered. All site visitors must enter their birth date and certify they are 21 before entering.

This year's contest, which ends July 10, is pulling in more registrants because it requires all who redeem Beer Bucks to provide their names, addresses, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers and other personal information. Last year's contest only collected information from people who bid on an item.

Not only have more than twice as many people registered so far this year, but they are staying at the site an average of 16 minutes, up from 12 minutes during last year's auction.

“A lot of people ask, 'Well, how much was sold on the site?' ” Miller spokesman Scott Bussen said. “And though we're hoping to get a lot of activity, that's secondary to how long people were on the site. That's a significant opportunity to make an impression on our consumers.”

In late April, Miller sent e-mail notifications to an undisclosed number of people in its online database, Bussen said. He said the company plans to send periodic e-mails through June to people who have opted in to receive promotional information from the company.

In addition to the auction, visitors can enter a sweepstakes that gives them a chance to win one of eight grand prizes, including a trip to the Sports Illustrated swimsuit shoot or a trip to Hawaii.

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