The significant DTC marketing disconnect

Digital marketing is losing its luster. Too much online ad fraud and too little ROI, and now social media seems to be sinking. TV is still the first place consumers learn about new products, but a research study found that 90% of consumers typically multitask while watching TV. There is a significant disconnect between what DTC marketers believe their TV spots do and actual results.

You all should have data on the number of people who go online for health information. It has increased since Covid and likely will stay high with an aging population and younger demographics who like to do everything online.

Pharma companies usually introduce new products via TV ads which, in turn, drives up traffic numbers to websites. But, what DTC marketers are missing is that bounce rates for pharma products continue to be very high, and pages viewed very low.

Our analysis shows that people are turning away from social media for information on prescription medications. We are seeing more people share their stories on living with or treating chronic health conditions but less on branded product experiences.

I still don’t understand how pharma marketers will have weeks/months of meetings about every detail in TV ads but continue to shortchange website development budgets. Usability studies are being ignored as well as content strategies based on what online health seekers want. Ironically, pharma product websites are a tiny part of the decision-making when so many people want to be more healthcare-empowered.

Key point: DTC TV ads drive awareness, but the web drives conversion.

In other words, virtually nobody will see your DTC ad and run to their doctor to ask for/about your product without going online to do some research. Pharma product websites are a stop along that path, but it’s a speedy one that seldom leads to decision-making. Pharma websites don’t have the content they want, and the content is difficult to understand.

We’re hearing now that any digital innovation in 2023 will be extremely limited because of budget constraints. One major product expected to launch in 23 has already cut its digital marketing development by 35%. To me, that’s a sure way to miss key brand objectives. They are reviewing creative from their agency without any target audience input.

Your product website should be an essential source for information on your drug and health condition. In an era with so much false online health information, you can become the leading website for specific health issues. To get there, you need to ask people what they are searching for and listen to what they say on social media about your product or the health condition in which you compete. The other issue is that updating your website with relevant information has to be done quickly, not in weeks or months, when people have the information they need to decide. This is the excellent DTC marketing disconnect.

The sad part is that DTC marketers feel higher frequencies will break through when actually it leads to consumers ignoring your spots. 55% of all consumers stop paying attention when ads come on TV, which is as high as 61% for people aged 55 and over.

If DTC is going to evolve and stay relevant, DTC executives need to focus more on their websites, especially their website metrics. The significant disconnect will continue to hamper efforts and waste money.