What is the real value of DTC marketing?

Diabnosos resulting from DTC visitsKEY TAKEAWAY: It’s estimated, from previous research, that DTC TV ads are only 7% effective.  So then, what is the value of DTC marketing today in an era where mistrust is high?  The value could be to inform and educate consumers to “do more research” which in turn could lead to seeking treatment, although asking and getting a requested brand may be difficult.

Over the past year I have seen a huge shift in the ways consumers ask for, and receive, prescription drugs.  The days of seeing an ad on TV and running to the Dr to ask for more are quickly coming to an end.  They have been replaced with “the age of doing more research, and taking control of my health”.

In all the research I have attended one aspect, though, hasn’t changed: patients still feel their physician knows best”.  However, insurers are taking a more active role in determining what can be prescribed and when.

Every  alt=

Can DTC be directly linked to Rx volume?  That depends.  I have witnessed some marketers manipulate data, by hiding numbers or taking credit for heavy ads, to show that DTC ads are directly linked to new Rx’s.  What they fail to show is the patient journey from awareness to new Rx and how important online is in that equation.  TV is still the biggest slice in DTC budgets while the online slice of the pie has remained relatively the same.

What I recommend to DTC managers is that they measure the awareness of TV ads and then measure the “pull” into the brand. Where they fail is in measuring outdated web metrics like visitors instead of bounce rate, pages viewed or time on site.  Most don’t even do a click stream analysis to better understand where people are coming from or going to after visiting their site.


Senior executives should demand better metrics from DTC marketers who continue to invest heavily in TV.  This includes research on how patients received Rx’s and “why?”.  It could turn out that the real value of DTC marketing is in driving people online to search for more information which may not necessarily benefit their brand.