Digital spending switching to point of care, but why?

KEY TAKEAWAY: Between 10% to 20% of pharma brands are shifting their spending away from digital media to digital point-of-care hosted by doctor’s offices or hospitals, according to a new analysis conducted by ZS Associates.  But why?

Point of care is a great way to reach patients.  Time in waiting room can average over 20 minutes, but do “digital billboards” really work in an age of smartphones?  It’s sure worth a try.

I have been telling all my clients to move away from programmatic advertising as it’s full of fraud.  Some of the world’s biggest brands were ripped off by a digital fraud scheme that used a network of websites connected to US advertising industry insiders to steal what experts say could be millions of dollars, a BuzzFeed News investigation recently found.

It’s yet another example of how the digital ad industry is being rocked by concerns about quality, fraud, and brand safety. YouTube lost millions of dollars in advertising after it was revealed that ads from major brands were showing up next to extremist videos. P&G, one of the world’s biggest advertisers, recently withheld more than $100 million of digital ad spend and found it had little impact on its business. “What that tells me is that the spending we cut was largely ineffective,” said CEO David Taylor.

The drug industry’s spending on digital ads was was flat in 2016, at $515 million, according to Kantar Media, even though total direct-to-consumer spending rose 4.6% to $5.8 billion in 2016 as most dollars go to TV.  However, the point-of-care market has an estimated compounded annual growth rate of 10%. That rate, according to ZS, will likely rise to 15%, creating a potential $850 million market by 2020. But there may be fraud, there too.   Outcome Health, an industry darling with startup savvy, is facing allegations that some employees inflated the results of marketing campaigns and shared that information with drugmakers that advertise with the company.

But the golden apple is still there. A recent study,for the Point of Care Communication Council, found that 31% of patients are more willing to fill a prescription after seeing healthcare advertising in the doctor’s office, while 84% are more likely to discuss an ad with a doctor. But getting the right ad to the right patient may be difficult.

We tried a digital approach at POC with mixed results.  Patients who logged onto the office WiFi were informed that they may receive ads for health products.  Once they opted in they were served digital ads for either pharma products or informative ads about the importance of health interventions like flue shots or colonoscopies.  We found that more patients asked about the generic health information than they did for/about specific pharma products.  However, when the pharma ads were switched to more generic health information like “there a new diabetes treatments which can actually help you lose weight” the conversations with HCP’s increased.

We are currently exploring whether the ads can be served based on patient records, but that’s a daunting task.  However, the possibility of serving ads for patients based on why they are in the office to see their doctor is very attractive.

Too many online ads are being wasted on the wrong audience and this author believes that programmatic is going to go down.  Point of care digital advertising can be attractive, but ads that have no relevance to the audience are not the answer regardless of where they are served.

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