Should pharma adjust the DTC media mix?

KEY THOUGHT: Shifting more dollars into digital marketing might sound like a good idea but on average, American adults spent over 5 1/2 hours a day watching video, 4 1/2 of those hours were with traditional broadcast television. TV is still the predominant channel to create awareness but the Internet drives conversion if it’s aligned with the product life-cycle.

Comcast says that the average US household watches about 6 1/2 hours of broadcast TV a day, including live and on-demand. They also claim that average household viewing across their customer base increased 20 minutes/day in the past year. So does it make sense for you to shift dollars from TV to digital? Not always.

TV is still the number one channel to create awareness IF your product has a large audience. Speciality drugs utilizing TV is probably a waste of money but if you’re introducing a drug into a crowded market and your audience of patients and caregivers is big than TV makes a lot of sense.

It’s about understanding the product life-cycle

OK. You are introducing a new product that DOES have a reasonably big audience. What and how should you allocate your media? First, you should measure awareness of your brand messages with your target audience via market research. Once that awareness has reached a certain level, you need to think about ways to get your audience engaged with your brand to ask for your product. The best way to do that is with digital because 90% of your audience is going to go online to learn more.

But how should we spend and measure the shift to digital?

1ne: Your primary digital conversion tactic is your website. You should be looking at traffic patterns in relation to bounce rates, time on site and pages viewed. A great way to measure how your website is communicating with your audience is a pop-up survey that is served to people as they come to and after they leave your website. It can tell you if your key messages were effectively communicated.

2wo: Paid Media. Please, please, note that clicks mean nothing. You should be looking at cost per targeted action or cost per page views. This is key for both online ads and for paid search, which I believe pharma marketers spend too much on.

3hree: Your website should be a living, evolving entity, not a stagnant brochure. As your target audience learns more about your product, they are likely to have more questions. You should be monitoring social media to answer these questions on your website.

4our: Measure ALL the media, not just one channel. TV and digital media work better when they are integrated. Saying “we’re going to spend 75% of our marketing budget on digital” is myopic as three of the ten most-visited web sites in the US are porn sites.

A Lilly executive recently said “people are experiencing brands differently today. They are choosing to interact with brands. We’re no different.” Uh, yes you are. People who take prescription drugs don’t necessarily interact with those brands. They want to know what others are saying, usually via social media, and if it’s going to cost them more. With pharma’s reputation in the trash do you really think people want to interact with you?

A smart, intelligent marketer will understand the drivers to conversion for his health condition market dynamics. A headline grabbing one will say “we’re shifting more dollars to digital”without understanding the strengths and weaknesses of that channel.