Unveiling DTC Advertising Realities: Addressing Inefficiencies and Mistrust

The number of TV ads for new prescription drugs is increasing, and the audience(s) aren’t paying any attention. It is more than a matter of mistrust; DTC marketers want to make a name for themselves by listening to agency people who are only interested in getting awards. There is too much turnover within DTC marketing, and new managers are clueless about the changes that have taken place in the current environment.

It’s time to admit that DTC TV commercials are a waste of money. Nobody watches them, and if they are interested, there is too much noise between the patient and getting an Rx to be successful. This is especially true in complicated disease states with smaller patient populations. If anyone thinks that people are going to run to their doctor to ask for an advertised drug, I’d like to have a glass of what they’re drinking.

Here are the new realities of DTC ads:

1ne: DTC Marketers don’t know enough about their target audience(s). Sure, they can tell you why patients may want to try new treatments, but they don’t know where they go for information, what sources they trust, and how they make decisions. They need a lot more in-depth insights.

2wo: Insurers are limiting product coverage. Insurance plans like Medicare and commercial plans cover fewer medications and add more restrictions on coverage, making it harder for people to afford the medicines they need. Patients may have to pay more out of pocket before insurance starts covering their medical costs, and some drugs may not be covered at all. This can lead to financial strain and difficulty accessing necessary medications.

3hree: Product websites read like medical journals and pharma websites have a high bounce rate. The reading level of your website copy should be 8th grade.

4our: Agency people are irresponsible in suggesting the use of TV advertising. If you have to ask why, you don’t belong in marketing.

5ive: The turmoil with the upcoming Presidential election is leading to more mistrust of everything, including big pharma, which is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to fight the ACA pricing negotiations.

6ix: Too many DTC marketers do what senior people, who have no marketing experience, want, not what patients want and need.

In a call last week with a client, I was amazed at how little information they had on their audience and how their website was developed in a vacuum without a usability study or research. However, they researched the people in the TV ad to see who would be more credible.

What bothers me, though, are the TV ads for small patient populations. What the hell are they thinking?

It’s time to stop with the phony pharma awards and put the patient back in DTC marketing.