What is the ROI of DTC?

KEY TAKEAWAY: According to John Mack ” common pharma marketing “wisdom” says the ROI of DTC is 2:1.  However, in the changing healthcare environment is that still true?

First, let me say that there is no “universal” ROI for DTC marketing.  It depends on the product, disease state and competition within that micro market.  Then there is the outdated notion that TV ads drive new Rx’s alone.  That is as dated as the idea that an aspirin a day keeps the doctor away.

Does DTC advertising still work?  Yes, but like an engine we need to measure the total of all the initiatives not just one channel like TV.  DTC marketers should, by now, understand that patients and caregivers are going to take multiple actions before switching or starting a new Rx. A big part of that is going online.

With higher copays patients today want to know the benefits of their medications before they ask their doctor about them.  GSK has done a great job in this area with BREO.  Not only does one dose last 24 hours, but they have a program where there is no copay for 12 months.  I was able to switch to BREO via an email that did not require a doctor’s visit and I’m sure a lot of other people did as well.  The BREO TV ads communicated the message “one dose every 24 hours” and their website communicated the “no copay” for 12 months effectively using a push pull strategy.

Then there are other medications like Biogen’s ill fated DTC for MS which was doomed from the start because the MS community is very active online and had nasty things to say about the product.  One can only ask why Biogen didn’t listen to the voice of the patient before launching the DTC ads.

This year my consulting group has managed and measured over $400 million in DTC media spending.  The ROI for most was very poor and research clearly showed that TV ads are not as effective as they once were for a variety of reasons. In a test of DTC vs DTC blackout market for a diabetes product we found that the DTC had a marginal impact.  Of course it could have been the ads themse=lves or the website, but traffic to the website in the DTC enabled market did not show spikes during heavy DTC flights.

What does all this mean?  It means that DTC marketers need a better, in depth, understanding of patient micro market behaviors.  What will actually drive a patient to ask their HCP about/for a product and what do their insurers have to say about it?

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