Do DTC marketers understand effective frequency?

imagesKEY TAKEAWAY: In advertising, the effective frequency is the number of times a person must be exposed to an advertising message before a response is made and before exposure is considered wasteful. It would seem that a lot of brands don’t understand effective frequency as the same ads run again and again.

How many TV ads for COPD, Cialis and diabetes drugs do we need to see again and again?  With more and more consumers both turning off broadcast TV and multi-tasking while watching TV, DTC marketers are wasting a lot of money on TV spots.

Your objective should be to measure the reach of your TV spots via quantitative data and understand that effective frequency probably isn’t relevant when it come to prescription drugs.  Today your audience usually goes online to learn more about your product as repeated frequency does not drive new Rx’s.


In a follow up survey with patients of a new woman’s prescription product we found that a whopping 85% of users went online to learn more about the product before talking to their doctor about it.  In addition the vast majority went online AFTER receiving their Rx.

What does it all mean?

1ne: Measure the “awareness” of your brand among your target audience on a regular basis.

2wo: Conduct market research with current patients to learn the steps they took to get a prescription then focus efforts on those initiatives.

3hree: Also conduct research with patients who considered your product but did not ask for an Rx to learn the barriers to asking for and acquiring new patients.


4our: Develop a patient insight group and continually optimize their findings into your DTC marketing quickly.

Running TV spots over and over again is an exercise in futility even if you have air time that had been prepurchased.  Today a “message” repeated over and over is annoying and very rarely drives conversion.