keting tools available in 2018. Every
brand has its own blueprint for success,
and nowhere is that more true than for
specialized Rx pharma brands.
The ability to tap vast digital and
direct insights using real-world digital
analytics and crowd-sourced survey
tools allow marketers to build distinct,
custom segments and map out the
marketing journey that will take each
from their current state to the brand’s
desired state of awareness or behavior.
Channel mix is no longer a templated
affair – we can now see and influence
every step of the journey, from first ad
impression to website actions to email
engagement to social behavior. Message sequencing, use of triggers and
split-testing can now be applied.
Channel planning itself has become
obsolete – the digital ecosystem is now
an artist’s palette, triggering connections for CRM and marketing automation across the spectrum.
Robert Ehrlich: The DTC media mix
has evolved slowly. We can expect increases in digital and POC, but nothing
dramatic as we see television and print
still dominant. Unless FDA gets practical and recognizes consumers can click
for more information, we will not see
social media or word search increase.
Rob Enos, media director, Abel-son Taylor: Three things will drive
the shift in media mix in 2018.
Number 1, we need more use of data
for digital advertising; go where the rich
First, our clients need to embrace
conversion tracking at the source. Employing a hybrid of both auto-tagging
and manual tagging can compensate
for the limitations of both while getting
the analytics we need, such as placements (where we place ads on the content network), keyword positions (what
position the ad appeared in on Google
Search) and display targeting. None of
this is new, but not enough campaigns
are properly set up with the client’s IT
in mind to smoothly implement this
kind of serious reporting.
They also need to embrace greater
use of active intent advertising vs.
contextual targeting alone. Again, not a
new concept, but encouraging suppliers
to allow this level of targeting will help
improve the performance of campaigns
in a world that increasingly demands
quality traffic over quantity. Active
intent essentially delivers ad messages in real time that are more directly
connected to user interest at that time.
It also takes into account user history
of the page she’s on and attempts to
match why a user would be on that
page with a custom message. Contextual targeting is mostly driven by specific
terms or keywords that could appear
within online material to which the
user is exposed.
Number 2, we’ll see more per-formance-based, and fewer aware-ness-based, tactics; engagement is
In spite of the lifecycle of the brand,
the level of new information being
released (i.e. new indication/clinical
data), and size of audience demand
for content or asset engagement are
becoming a greater KPI than how many
people are aware of the message or
brand. Quality site visits, dominated by
metrics such as time on page, bounce
and, more importantly, converting vis-
its to action (i.e. registration, requesting
info, etc) are much closer to gauging
intent to use than whether or not some-
one recalls the ad or how many people
visited the site. Content partnerships
for hosting, content syndication for
dispensing, and repurposing materials
into interactive channels are continuing
to be popular ways to extend the use of
assets without incurring large creation
costs. Further, getting suppliers to offer
solid cost per engagement or cost per
conversion rate models over cost per
impression/exposure models must go
hand- in-hand with these tactics. Final-
ly, this is resulting in less reliance on
standard display messaging and more
on native/video and rich formats.
Number 3, we believe the industry
can and will demand better protection
against ad fraud, including Botnet fraud
(never actually viewed by humans) and
Adware fraud (not properly loaded for
a person to accurately view them). According to Statista, the estimated cost
of digital ad fraud in 2017 was $16.4
billion across all industries. Most Pharma clients are expecting ad agencies to
be the party primarily responsible for
ensuring ads are properly served. Viewability protocols only go so far. There
are no standards to evaluate what
suppliers are doing against fraud (not
that they are ignoring it), but we need
to formalize audits of point-of-care
placements and other location-based
(hospital, convention) placements as
well. If we leave these things up to individual suppliers, we will not only get
varying degrees of quality but also put
dollars at increasing risk.
Justin Freid: For many, many years
pharma has been dependent on broadcast TV. As consumers, we are shifting
our consumption habits to non-linear
TV, streaming services and content
warehouses such as You Tube. Pharma
continues to be one of the top spenders
on traditional linear TV. Agencies and
brands will need to begin to shift their
strategies to the channels and technology their audiences are adopting.
Point of Care will also continue to
develop into an extremely powerful and
important channel. With new technology providing brands opportunities to
be at the point of conversation between
HCP and patient, there may not be a
more influential opportunity.
Liz O’Neil, senior VP, channel
strategy and research, Ogilvy
2018 will not be the year of a media
mix shakeup in pharma marketing.
Media budgets will continue to rely on
the proven channels that work hard on
the brand’s marketing objectives and
have positive returns. The approach to
marketing continues to be grounded in
a clear strategic vision and performance
metrics that justify mix. There is more
By Wendy Blackburn
It’s not a new trend. For years, there’s been
massive speculation on the many ways Amazon could be getting into healthcare. But if
you look past the hype, beyond Amazon’s theoretical intentions, and focus more closely on
today’s consumer, there is a colossal healthcare
trend underway even without Amazon getting
in on the game. One can learn a lot from the
trend of Amazon’s influence on the business of
doing business. So let’s take a closer look.
What do consumers love about Amazon? In
case you’ve been living under a rock, Amazon
isn’t just books anymore, and it hasn’t been for
some time. The Amazon of today is electronics,
clothing, wedding dresses, and appliances. It’s
handmade arts and crafts and difficult-to-find
items from around the world. It’s apps, video
games, and other software. It’s voice-activated
home assistants integrated with the rest of
your life. You can even buy a Tesla on Amazon.
If Amazon doesn’t have it, it probably doesn’t
exist. And if someone else also offers it, it’s
probably cheaper on Amazon.
In addition to traditional consumer goods,
Amazon is a master at subscription-style
services. There’s streaming music and video.
There’s Pantry, Subscribe-and-Save auto-deliv-ery and Dash Button for mindless re-ordering
of household items. There’s Amazon Fresh for
food and product-of-the-month clubs a-la
Birchbox. And it offers services-within-a-ser-vice: Amazon is giving Angie’s List a run for its
money by serving as a clearinghouse for home
and business services such as housecleaning,
lawn and yard, plumbers and more.
And still – it’s not the vast array of products
and services that make Amazon the company
to emulate. Amazon could have all that and
more, but if the experience they provided
wasn’t remarkable, they wouldn’t have a corner on all these markets.
Amazon just makes it easy. The website itself
is simple to use, and hasn’t changed dramatically over time, so it feels familiar. Customers
enjoy free shipping and one-click ordering,
and Amazon is known for frictionless returns.
Same-day delivery and Whole Foods in-store
pickup brings their products even more within
reach. And the reliable and voluminous product peer reviews provide data for consumers
to make fast, informed decisions.
By its own admission, Amazon has long
been “customer-obsessed.” That fact not only
shows, it pays. Often cited as one of the most
successful companies in the world, Amazon
downright dominates the e-commerce
universe, is taking a larger share of traditional
retail, and its stock continues to soar.
So how can pharmaceutical companies
learn from Amazon’s success?
The Amazonification of health is already
happening. Not because Amazon or the health
industry is driving it, but because the consumer is demanding it.
Amazon understands that being customer-obsessed means understanding
the customer better than they understand
themselves. Today’s empowered patients are
feisty, cynical, independent consumers who
understand their own health better than ever
before, who want control over their experience, and who demand the same quality from
healthcare that they receive from the rest of
their shopping and technology interactions.
The same old creative campaigns won’t cut it.
“What she gets from a few brands, she now
expects from all brands,” says Greg Schutta, VP,
Client Services, Intouch Solutions. “Let’s face it,
you can’t just ‘campaign’ your way into people’s
When it comes to offerings, pharmas must
get beyond the blinders-on mentality of
manufacturing and selling only medicines.
Customers expect options and extras to win
them over, like adjunct products and com-
plementary services to make treatment more
tolerable, efficient, affordable and effective.
Patient programs are ripe for innovation here.
Digital health represents another new frontier.
Here, for example, mobile apps used in con-
junction with traditional treatments are being
clinically proven to improve outcomes.
Healthcare delivery itself must become
more effortless, as the public grows accustomed to streaming entertainment, click-to-chat, same-day delivery, and services that
make everything from cars to apartments
easier to get. Tech-enabled services like digital
diagnostics continue to gain headlines. Others
are taking longer: for instance, Medicare still
is hesitant to reimburse for telehealth – but,
as Rock Health has noted, they will ultimately
Most importantly, pharma must strive to
deliver uncomplicated, connected experiences
to the patients, healthcare professionals and
payers that it serves. Customers want frictionless interactions that provide more control and
increased transparency. Hyper-personalized
experiences are the norm – and pharma must
To deliver on all this, of course, takes data.
Loads of data, and the knowledge of how to
use it. With an estimated 310 million active
customer accounts worldwide and 43 percent
of U.S. online retail sales, data is Amazon’s
While Amazon historically doesn’t reveal
much about its marketing practices, there’s no
argument they are masters at the craft of using
customer behavior data to drive revenue. CEO
Jeff Bezos has publicly shared that Amazon
uses data – specifically machine learning and
artificial intelligence – to predict purchases, to
improve search results and product recommendations, to improve forecasting and inventory management, and “literally hundreds
of other things beneath the surface.” While
pharma dabbles with the idea of big data and
artificial intelligence, Amazon is literally inventing new uses for it. Through Amazon Web
Services, they even offer consulting expertise
to bring artificial intelligence to companies
who lack the talent.
The smartest marketers will embrace
Amazon’s example to ensure every marketing
decision is deliberately data-driven. When
pharma someday learns to apply data like
Amazon does, the customer experience will
not only be vastly improved, but marketing
itself will become smarter, more automated,
and much more efficient.
The Amazonification of health is happening
– slowly but surely – whether pharma is ready
or not. To maintain and build relationships
with their customers, pharma marketers must
reach for the “Amazon bar” – successfully providing customers with convenient products,
tools and information, while finding ever
better ways to reach and understand them.
Wendy Blackburn is executive VP,
But it’s not what you expect it to be