DTC conferences are a waste of time


  • DTC conferences are a waste of time and don’t acknowledge the rapid changes of online health seekers.
  • Patients don’t ask about new drugs because of DTC.
  • Too much money is being allocated to TV.
  • Websites are being ignored.

DTC conferences are a waste of time. That’s right, they are a complete waste of time because they are irrelevant to YOUR audience.

Late last year we did research with patients who were already on therapy for a newly introduced diabetes drug. I wanted to better understand what was the key action that drove them to get on the product or ask their doctor about/for the product.

What we learned was that the DTC had virtually no effect beyond awareness. The key reasons they went on therapy were:

1ne: Recommended by their doctor

2wo: Other patients who had a good experience

3hree: Low co-pays

The moderator spent a great deal of time asking about the DTC TV ads but the people in the research (n=73) said it didn’t help influence their decision to ask for the drug. Even though the product advertises weight loss as a potential advantage the people in the groups said they needed to find out what the side effects were and how much it costs.

So why are we seeing such a heavy commitment to TV?

The answer is quite simple: agencies want to make money, there is a lack of talent in DTC marketing and too many people see TV as a way to enhance their resumes. They’ll spend millions to produce and air a DTC spot while their website stagnates with high bounce rates.

Why do DTC marketers ignore their websites?

Again the simplest solution is usually correct. It’s the budget. It costs money to develop a good content plan and conduct usability studies and that money is going to TV.

I contacted several highly credible medical school newsletters to ask if anyone in the industry had sought to license their content an the answer was “no”. Does pharma care that online health seekers are going elsewhere to get their questions answered and chose treatment options? Obviously not.

The rumors that pharma is throwing more money into digital may be true but money allocated to the wrong tactics is still money wasted.

DTC conferences are a waste of time and money. Old ideas and old themes that live in the past. Sigh…