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ARTICLE

The Evolution of Pharma Marketing As We Know It, Continued

April 8, 2015 — by Peter Niemi    

Peter Niemi is a partner at MDC Advertising, the programmatic healthcare company. This is his second post on digital pharma marketing; the first can be read here.

My previous post outlined the current state of pharma marketing, and highlighted some of the reasons behind the vertical’s reluctance to go all-in on digital marketing. This post will address three challenges specific to pharma marketers, and how they are meeting those challenges head on to produce digital marketing campaigns that are regulatory compliant, drive the consumer to take action, and are quantifiable in their results.

From my experience working with leading pharmaceutical businesses, the three challenges that are top of mind in pharma include:

• Reaching qualified buyers in both the consumer and healthcare provider markets and crafting campaigns that successfully mobilize all stakeholders around a product.

• Proving ROI for campaigns, particularly attributing prescriptions and over the counter purchases to digital spend.

• Maintaining regulatory/privacy compliance, particularly for RX products.

While pharma has traditionally been reliant on brand awareness marketing, pharma marketers will lean in on direct-response advertising to engage and convert their intended audiences. In fact, pharma marketers have already demonstrated their comfort in adopting more direct-response led advertising campaigns. eMarketer reports that 56% of pharma digital ad spend went to DR, whereas only 44% went to branding. While branding is of course an important and crucial part to any marketer’s strategy, customer and health care provider (HCP) engagement is crucial for the pharma marketer to drive new prescriptions.

Secondly, big pharma marketing has evolved from a HCP only practice to a balanced consumer and HCP practice. Striking that balance to date has been a very expensive undertaking available only to the largest pharma brands with massive media spending. With the rise of accurate targeting technology (programmatic buying) and growing availability of reliable ROI models, this type of two-pronged consumer/HCP campaign is becoming accessible to companies of all sizes. By their very nature, smaller companies tend to be more entrepreneurial and innovative, challenged with creating successful initiatives with limited resources; the rise of programmatic marketing in pharma will level playing field for these companies – look for them to take the initiative and succeed quickly.

Lastly, pharma companies are turning to expert partners who bring both the healthcare marketing expertise and the technical capabilities to the table in order to craft successful, regulatory-compliant campaigns. The partnership between MDC Advertising and MediaMath is addressing the concerns voiced by digital pharma marketers. Companies such as MDC Advertising are committed to maintaining consumer privacy and compliant messaging in their campaigns and are helping to raise the comfort level with digital tools among the medical marketing community. In 5 years’ time the pharma industry will have progressed significantly in the use of compliant and effective digital media to produce successful campaigns addressing both consumers and HCPs. In the end everyone can win. Patients, professionals and pharma companies (of all sizes).

Peter Niemi

Peter Niemi is a partner at MDC Advertising: The Programmatic Healthcare Agency. Prior to joining MDC he had long been a leader in the digital marketing field. In 1995 he founded GHG Interactive, the digital marketing arm of the Grey Healthcare Group, and ran it until 2000 (after 12 years at Grey). After GHG Peter joined Torre Lazur McCann as CIO in 2000, where he lead the team that designed and executed the Paxil web presence for GlaxoSmithKline which was one of the most-trafficked pharmaceutical sites in the world until patent expiration. In 2001 Peter co-founded a hybrid technology-advertising agency called Hyphen, an Omnicom company. Hyphen was focused on using modern marketing techniques for healthcare industry clients, a discipline shared by MDC Advertising. In addition to his agency experience, Peter has worked with a number of early stage companies and helped craft the positioning and launch strategy for ventures including MediaMath, DoctorCom and Impactia. He plays hockey enthusiastically with moderate skill and then ices whatever hurts the most. He has taught scuba diving, hockey, ice skating, multimedia programming and digital marketing although not all at the same time.  Peter earned his MBA at Columbia Business School and also holds a BA in English Literature from Columbia.

One comment

  • Jodi Murphy

    May 1, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    With Pharma marketing, it’s so important to reach qualified buyers! To do this, it means that you need to know your target market inside and out. Content marketing plays a big part in that.

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