Spending more money on TV ads doesn’t make sense

  • In 2019, people are expected to spend an average of 170.6 minutes each day on online activities like watching videos on YouTube, sharing photos on Facebook and shopping on Amazon. They’ll spend slightly less time — 170.3 minutes —watching TV.
  • In the U.S., however, TV is still king. Internet usage will not eclipse TV viewing there until 2020, according to Zenith.
  • Most advertisers are ahead of the curve, except pharma.. Globally, they’re expected to spend $60 billion more on internet than TV advertising in 2019.
  • 80 percent of Internet users, or about 93 million Americans, have searched for a health-related topic online, according to a study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

TV may raise awareness, but Dr Internet drives conversion.  However, pharma marketers insist that TV is king as they continue to spend heavily on TV ads, even though various research indicates that TV ads are less effective in driving new Rx’s.

According to Pew, most frequently people went online to look up information about a specific disease or medical problem (63 percent) or a particular medical treatment or procedure (47 percent). They were also interested in diet, nutrition and vitamins (44 percent) and exercise or fitness information (36 percent).

Yesterday I reviewed findings from some qualitative research we did for a client asking people about the factors that make them ask for/choose a certain health treatment.  Pharma websites were barely mentioned compared to social media and general health sites.

When asked about pharma websites the vast majority (84%) said that “they were not helpful” in helping them make treatment decisions.  In fact, we heard, for the first time, that social media was more important. What on social media was so interesting?   The panels were split, but there were some common answers:

1ne: Social media allowed them to read what others were saying about drug side effects.

2wo: Social media offered shortcuts for more health information.

3hree: Social media often had tips on saving money on Rx’s.

I’m not sure that agencies or pharma DTC marketers are aware of effective reach and frequency.  While it’s marketing 101 today, consumers are growing tired of the same commercials over and over and they are tuning them out.  If your query Twitter for certain prescription drugs you are bound to see some comments on over aired DTC TV spots.  Yet most drug product websites continue to experience very high bounce rates.  “What we have here is failure to communicate”.

People are not going to see an ad for a prescription drug and run to their doctor to ask for an Rx.  Those days are over.  Today it’s the Internet and sooner or later pharma marketers are going to have to start thinking digital.

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