KEY TAKEAWAY: DTC marketers are continuing to allocate less to digital because they mistakenly believe that consumers, once they see a TV ad, are going to run to their doctor to ask for the product even though research shows TV ads are only 7% effective.
It’s a sad state of affairs really. TV is still the number one channel requested by marketers and although TV is effective for a lot of products it’s just not that effective for prescription drugs. In quantitative research over the last three years patients said they averaged going to 4.5 websites to learn about possible health issues and prescription drugs. The good news is that they are going to pharma websites, the bad news is, rarely are pharma websites enough to convince patients to ask for an Rx.
A study by TiVo Research, in partnership with customer engagement consulting firm 84.51 and media companies including A&E Networks, found that sales declined at 15 consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies that cut their TV advertising. The companies, who are not identified, cut their TV budgets between 20% and 70%, generating a combined sales loss of $94 million., the study found. However, there is a hell of a difference between a TV ad for new pizza vs. a TV ad for asthma.
The Internet also has its problems right now. It’s estimated that click fraud could be as high as 91% and Programmed buying of online ads can lead to embarrassing placement of a pharma ad. But what’s really hampering pharma is that, well, their websites tend to suck. Content is often difficult to read, sites aren’t tested with users and content is developed in a vacuum. Bounce rates for most pharma sites is really high and time on site is an indication that users don’t find value in the content.
I was actually quite taken back when a client didn’t understand the basic terms of online marketing like bounce rate, cost per page views, cost and per targeted action. He didn’t really have an analytics person and relied on IT to provide him with numbers that were Latin to him.
I estimate that digital only accounts for 7-10% of media spending and although DTC budgets are growing digital is still looking for handouts.
Pharma needs to experiment more with digital and learn to brave new trails rather than cave to regulatory and legal paranoia. Some are blazing new trails but the work required is often cumbersome and tiring.