vast majority of top DTC TV spenders), it is but a distant intellectual
curiosity for most pharma brands.
That’s not taking anything away
from TV. The benefits of mass TV
commercials are well-documented. And the buys have become
even more efficient and effective
through better targeting, with cable spend rising at a faster rate
than network. And more the better
if you can then integrate your TV
into an entire omnichannel campaign. It’s all super wonderful if,
and I emphasize if, you have all the
stars aligned: the right audience
(FYI, the median viewer age for
CBS is 59), the right mass-market
brand, and the right budget for TV.
So, what about the rest of us?
There is good news. Digital video continues to strengthen for advertisers, especially to audiences 18-49 (the age group that has
seen a same-time decrease in traditional TV watching by 25-40%).
YouTube on mobile alone reaches
more adults 18-49 than any cable
Online video ad revenue has
doubled over the last three years,
while TV has decreased.
And digital video is predicted to
make up 69% of all internet traffic in 2017.
But the real good news actually lies in the different nature of
healthcare decision-making. Unlike many other consumer categories, a healthcare purchase is
active, focused, and heavily-re-searched. And the web is where
people go first. According to the
Pew Internet & American Life
Project, 80% of people went online to look up healthcare information in 2015, and 47% of those
looked for a drug or a treatment.
Which means consumers are actively engaged – with a consideration mindset – when they come
across your product message. Contrast that dynamic to the mass DTC
TV pitch, which is based on interruption, stopping someone who
wasn’t actively looking for healthcare information to consider your
brand. The unique healthcare decision-making dynamic enables digital communication vehicles, like
search, content marketing, and native advertising (which is woefully underutilized in pharma) to intersect people with news they can
use, and lead them to your solution in just a couple of clicks. One
study showed that when in-stream
mobile native ads were combined
with paid mobile search, brands
saw a 279% lift in top-of-mind
awareness (Yahoo). Mobile native
ads have also been found to go beyond awareness to increase purchase intent. (Sponsored native
content on Pinterest, for example,
has been shown to drive up daily
in-store purchases by 53%.)
So, as the saying goes, if you
can’t be rich, be smart. Or at least
Lori Grant, President, Klick
Health: Our goal with DTC is patient empowerment. We use advanced analytics to create an
optimized and fully integrated omni-channel media mix that engages
the right patient with the right information at the right time. Whether that mix includes broadcast, digital, and offline tactics depends on
the patient audience, budget, and
types of support our clients provide.
Throughout the process we ensure
cost-efficiency and maximized engagement by thinking strategically and grounding our decisions in
data. And by working with innovative partners, such as Crossix, we
provide our clients unprecedented
ROI metrics and opportunities to
further optimize their investments.
Concentric: Setting aside whether the First Amendment makes DTC
protected speech or not, industry detractors are not questioning DTC on
the basis of efficiency. They are questioning DTC itself, and want to return to the good old days of “doctor
knows best.” That view is paternalis-tic, parochial, and firmly in the past.
With more of the responsibility
for personal health management increasingly falling on the patient, why
would we ever deny meaningful and
helpful information to patients? In
most cases, patients are the best advocates of their own healthcare management if they can be informed,
educated, and activated. Creating
awareness and understanding with
consumers of underdiagnosed/mis-diagnosed conditions generates the
urgency to know more and to act. Instilling that urgency to act can mean
the difference between detecting and
dying. For example, ensuring those
at risk of colon cancer receive a colo-noscopy can reduce the chance of dying from it by 90%.
Health is a personal experience.
Managing one’s health is also a personal experience. To be an effective
manager, one must be informed and
equipped with the right information,
tools, and access to care to make the
best decisions. Denying that access
does not advance personal or public
Ashik Desai: For brand awareness
and quantity of impressions, there is
still value in the TV spot. That said,
there are other channels that are a
more effective marketing spend, but
with increased accuracy.
In order to understand the recent
increase in DTC advertising, you
have to take a look at the decreased
access that sales teams from the life
sciences are experiencing in their at-
tempts to reach physicians. Today,
according to ZS Associates, only 44%
of physicians are considered accessi-
ble, meaning they met with at least
70% of the reps that reached out to
them. This is down from about 80%
in 2008. In response to this reduced
access, brands are looking for other
ways to drive success, both through
non-personal promotion and in-
creased DTC spending.
By leveraging new digital technologies, marketers can reap the advantages of the TV spot such as reach,
brand recognition, low risk and cost,
while minimizing the challenges of
targeting and convincingly tracking a return on investment. By leveraging decision technology that is
available in the consultation room,
brands access cable TV-sized scale
but with a higher impact on the patient and an increased ability to improve ROI. This efficiency is the reason point-of-care spend increases
year over year at a rate that vastly
exceeds alternative DTC channels.
Bob Palmer: It may well play out
that DTC advertising moves away
from TV and into more discreet
channels such as digital. This would
reduce the focus on DTC advertising
by virtue of it being less visible to the
average citizen. For example, programmatic media buying – which is
slowly but surely being adopted by
pharma marketers – has dramatically increased the ability to target
patients online in a discreet manner. However, FDA efforts to restrict
DTC are a distinct possibility, such
as further lengthening the period of
time before a brand can advertise after FDA approval of a drug.
Direct-to-consumer advertising is (and has been)
an essential component of consumer engagement and of empowering consumers to take responsibility for their healthcare. While there
are many efficient ways to communicate with consumers other than TV
spots, TV remains an effective method of creating initial awareness for
certain brands. Media selection depends a great deal on the total size of
the market for a particular drug and
how effective other, more targeted
digital mediums can be.
When a drug brand has a very
wide patient population base, TV is
still the most effective way to reach
a mass audience in order to establish awareness than more targeted
forms of digital media. Individual
media tactics no longer can be considered a direct path to a customer
engagement. There always will be a
role for TV, however the migration of
drug promotion from TV to less expensive, more targeted digital/mo-bile channels will continue.
Deborah Lotterman: There are
infinite ways to reach consumers.
But if that touch is to be successful in informing and motivating
action, it needs to occur where and
when the recipient is most receptive. If we’re trying to reach teens,
inexpensive channels like Snapchat
and Instagram make a lot of sense.
But the vast majority of branded
products treat the chronic and catastrophic diseases that accompany aging. And while the digital and
social use of those over 50 contin-
Wendy Blackburn, EVP
Boris Kushkuley, EVP
Faruk Capan, CEO
Angela Tenuta, EVP
David Windhausen, EVP