DTC marketers addicted to TV ?

the_obvious_escapes_manyPost Summary: TV, when used strategically as part of an integrated marketing approach, can generate awareness with target audiences but today generating awareness is often not enough to get people into their doctor to ask about your product.  There isn’t one approach that can work across all brands and health conditions but one could argue that what is needed is an integrated approach beyond TV to get consumers to take action.

If you’re seeing a lot of DTC commercials on TV you’re not alone.  This is the time of year when marketers often have to use up their marketing budgets and it seems the first choice is once again TV.  It’s too bad that TV holds such a strong allure for drug marketers because a good eMarketing person could probably take the money being used on TV and really drive brand objectives with measured online marketing.


Perhaps what is needed, when it comes to DTC marketing, is upstream and downstream marketing initiatives that focus on both push and pull.  Instead of doing research on TV commercials marketers may need to conduct research with target audience members who have seen the TV spots but haven’t taken action.  They need to identify the barriers to taking action and develop condition specific marketing programs to help overcome those barriers.  This is where the Internet can provide the greatest results.

While we would all like to think that most consumers are proactive when it comes to their health this is not the case for health condition marketing.  Searches for medications or on specific health conditions start with a “trigger”.  Triggers could be anything from a diagnosis to persistent health issues that people are trying to self diagnose.  What Manhattan Research has shown time and time again is that the Web is often the first place consumers turn to for health information.  In fact Manhattan Research just announced the number of Americans using mobile phones for health information or tools reached 95 million in 2013 up 27 percent from 75 million a year ago. Smartphones have become, for many, an indispensable source of healthcare information – 38 percent of online smartphone users agree that the device is “essential” for finding health and medical information.  But we need more than numbers we need to know “why?” and “where?” before we allocate money to mobile health marketing.


What a lot of CPG marketers are learning is that the best way to improve the ROI of marketing is through integrated marketing.  The challenge is continually optimizing the channel mix to ensure the best possible return.  Some are still hung up on “measuring” every marketing channel but I would argue that rather tan measuring the impact of each online ad or social media intervention we should look at the “integrated” marketing as a whole.

I have been in the industry long enough to see through marketing dashboards that link TV to increased Rx requests.  Frankly anyone can manipulate numbers to show that a particular marketing channel is effective but I believe that there is an over reliance on TV.  Why ?  Because TV has all the glitz and glamor, the web does not.  With TV it’s easy to sow and tell, with the Web it’s not so easy because the web has moved beyond mass marketing.


While the potential for mobile health is great nobody should spend money to develop apps or other mobile marketing campaigns without an in depth understanding of where they are accessing the information and more importantly why.   I’m pretty dams sure that consumers don’t research COPD while waiting for a meeting to start or killing time at hone on their iPad’s.

We need to go beyond the numbers and statistics to ask more questions and we need to think like skeptical consumers who are empowered patients.  It requires that we all become multitasking experts in all channels but also that we have the best talent possible to develop strategies for each channel.

What I find most disturbing is that the money being wasted on TV can often drive measured response via digital marketing.  As I have said before “TV drives awareness; the Web drives conversion”.


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