Is pharma cutting digital for TV?

  • New products are being launched with heavy TV but product websites remain relatively unchanged.
  •  A report from Tel Aviv-based cybersecurity firm Cheq says up to 20% of ad dollars is being stolen through digital ad fraud.
  • With more consolidation within pharma vendors bigger agencies are more likely to recommend TV as opposed to digital but this is a serious mistake

In case you haven’t noticed more new pharma products are being launched on TV. After all, TV is great for generating awareness but what pharma marketers are missing is the chain link that turns prospects into patients.

The long journey from awareness to Rx

The idea that people are going to see an ad on TV and go to their doctor to ask for/about a new prescription drug is not relevant. DTC marketers continue to rely on TV as a way to show they are doing something and because they don’t see the ROI of investing in the development of a great site. In addition, marketers rely way too much on big agencies who are still heavily invested in TV and they may get some kickbacks by purchasing a big TV flight.

In order to leverage marketing very few DTC marketers are developing an Rx journey map. These maps, developed with research insight, can help pinpoint the touchpoints where a prospect becomes a customer. We recently did a journey map for a diabetes product and the marketing team was surprised to learn that their target audience was relying heavily on social media and insurance coverage before asking their physician for the product.

Stop thinking digital is paid media

When we talk to clients we often get feedback that their impression of digital is “online ads” and “paid search”. When we show them the presentation on people coming to their website along with bounce rates and a clickstream analysis they are surprised. The discussion then inevitably turns to “why?” this is happening which usually leads to a discussion on how the product website was developed. The vast majority of the time we hear that websites were kind of developed as an afterthought with small budgets.

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Then there is ad fraud. The global digital advertising market has been pegged at about $250 billion for 2019. As marketers are pouring billions into digital ads, a new report from Tel Aviv-based cybersecurity firm Cheq says up to 20% of that money is being stolen through ad fraud. Not only that, but 77% of that fraud is more sophisticated than the industry is prepared to deal with. We are finding that online ad metrics do NOT align with website metrics. We are also finding that BOTS are increasing at a rapid rate.

It’s no surprise that once small pharma agencies are turning into larger, overall, strategy based agencies. Consolidation of vendors is continuing within pharma as more DTC managers lack the experience to launch major DTC initiatives. The emphasis on TV is short-sighted. The experience map, from awareness to requesting an Rx, is essential but too may DTC marketers just don’t get it.