What’s next for DTC?

I could argue that healthcare marketing has changed substantially because of health misinformation during the pandemic. DTC marketing has also changed. I see, via social media, more people challenging DTC ads on everything from insurance coverage to side effects. DTC marketers need to change how they market, but I’m sure it will happen.

As the red-hot diabetes weight loss drug market continues to grow, I’m seeing more negative social media and media stories about the adverse side effects from GI problems to having no appetite. Despite this, the media continues to promote the drug’s weight loss even though a patient must be on the medicine for life to maintain weight loss.

People are challenging online health information, including pharma websites and TV ads. The days of seeing an ad on TV and running to your doctor to ask for the drug are over. Today, it’s awareness followed by research, and even though social media is becoming a smaller piece of the puzzle, it’s still being used by patient groups to discuss new treatments.

I have communicated to clients that your website needs to communicate critical messages quickly, but those messages must be continually monitored on social media and fact-checked. Your audience is checking what you advertise, so you need to know what they say and what it means to your advertising.

CPG marketers are drastically cutting online budgets for 2023. There is too much online ad fraud, and it’s hard to determine the ROI. Does that mean that pharma should follow? Absolutely not! You do need, however, to stop wasting money on programmatic ads. Exploiting the programmatic advertising system is remarkably simple. You can become a successful ad fraudster with almost no technical know-how. And if you have the technological know-how, the sky’s the limit. According to Hewlett Packard Enterprises, ad fraud has the highest potential for profitability and the lowest barrier to entry. Half of programmatic ad money is being siphoned off by the adtech industry before it reaches publishers.

Then there is my specialty; content. As a marketer, I understand that content has to get to the point and speak directly to the person reading it. Before I undertake any content assignment, I ask these questions:

1ne: What is the objective of this content?

2wo: Who are we talking with?

3hree: What’s the most important message you want your reader to take away from this content?

Too often, I hear, “we want the content to be 1500-2000 words. That’s the wrong approach and leads to bad online metrics. Instead, understand that everyone, from the news to social media, is fighting for your audience’s attention. It also doesn’t do much good to write content that is the complete opposite of what someone might find on WebMD or Medscape.

DTC marketers need to stop running the same ads with increased frequency for TV ads. You should be developing a flight of ads that communicate the benefits of your product, not just stats. Research shows a negative correlation between a heavy frequency and ROI.

In testing some content, I recently wrote for a client about MDS, we found that the primary audience, including caregivers, wanted more information and to sign up to receive more information as it became available. They want to be more knowledgeable when talking to their doctor about treatment options and side effects.

The DTC environment is changing but will DTC marketers listen, or will they continue with their DTC conventions and pat themselves on the back?