Why DTC marketing is no longer valid

UnknownKEY TAKEAWAY: Marketing interventions from biopharm companies are not driving people to request medications for several reasons.  It’s time to move from marketing via interruption to helping people solve health problems.

I am just reviewing some quant research on the effect of pharma marketing on driving people to the doctor to ask for the product and the results clearly show that pharma websites are missing the mark.


First, let’s take a step back for a second.  All over the Internet people are saying “no” to ads and being interrupted.  Ad blocking software is being downloaded at record levels and click analysis shows that people are sick of having to sit and watch an ad before viewing an online video.

The objective of pharma websites has always been to drive new Rx’s via education and information.  Pharma marketers still spend countless hours trying to justify the ROI of DTC initiatives instead of focusing on what patients really want.

One of the key topline findings of the research was that “pharma websites very rarely lead to a patient requesting a branded drug without doing a lot more research”.  The Internet is too interwoven in our live and always makes house calls when we want health information.  Patients wants and needs are not being met with the content on pharma websites which in turn is forcing them to look elsewhere for answers like “what are the side effects really like?”.


The real power of the Internet is to allow people to join together in conversations about health questions and although some pharma companies do have a patient insights group, turning those insights into an actionable strategy takes too long.

Informing and educating people your website is not enough.  We need to map out the path from awareness to action and continually optimize it as market conditions change.  It’s hard to get someone to spend a lot of time online, compare products, make an appointment with their doctor, ask for the Rx and then fill it.  Yet, DTC marketers seem to ignore this for the most part. Some companies like Bayer, Biogen and Amgen have patient hotlines but these are for expensive products.

At the upcoming DTC conferences there will be more “duh” presentations, but will anyone stand up and say that “the same old model for DTC marketing is as extinct as the dinosaurs”?