Eye for Pharma 2008
August 8, 2008
Mark DiPaulo, global head of IT strategy for Novartis, says that as the push for a new commercial model intensifies, pharma companies are looking to “e” more seriously than ever in the past.
Social networking is one of the hottest new marketing topics both within and beyond pharma. Len Starnes, head of global digital sales and marketing for Schering, says over the next few years, the biggest external impact will be seen on pharma’s interactions with patients, followed closely by the influence on the industry’s online relationship with doctors. But Starnes says social media also is poised to drive significant change internally in pharmaceutical organizations as they strive for productivity and efficiency gains.
As with many other technology adoption curves, however, the pharma industry is lagging, Starnes says. “Compared to telecommunications, retail and high tech, for instance, we are trailing – just like with Web 1.0,” Starnes notes. “A lot of companies are investing in Web 2.0 to improve internal productivity, but also in customer facing activities. Pharma needs to catch up.”
Even within the industry, geographies are poised to learn from each other, says Mark Bard, president of Manhattan Research. With a global perspective, he says, US teams can benefit from European best practices, even on how to effectively build websites or engage with physicians and invite them to interact with online content. And European pharmas are learning from mistakes already made by their US counterparts in areas like e-detailing, he says.
US advertising budgets are seeing some changes, Bard says. While total direct to consumer advertising spend is flat, Bard says television advertising spend is down, print is flat or slightly up and online spending is up with a lot of room to grow. Bard predicts that in the next five years in the US at least some of the online budget currently spent targeting consumers will shift toward doctors.
One area that has been underutilized, Bard says, is email.
“Healthcare has underutilized e-mail compared to most other industries,” he explains. “Actually the number of people opting in to receive this kind of communication has doubled over the past couple of years. On the physician side, most companies are not emailing physicians and it’s probably one of the biggest missed opportunities we see.”
Bard says most physicians are completely willing to get emails from pharma companies, but pharma hasn’t recognized that yet and simply isn’t doing it.
Search also is still overlooked by many companies. Companies think they need more content or fresher content, Bard says, but fail to consider that most people find their web page through search – something in which they currently put little of their effort.
Kathleen Oneial, a former vice president of marketing channels at Novartis and Merck, says video advertising and streaming is another emerging opportunity for pharma.
“It’s a wonderful format for consumers and physicians and now that we have such widely available broadband, video will become a big part of how we communicate,” she predicts. “We’ve seen the profound impact of YouTube and others. Video will become an important tool for marketers and we’ll need agencies that have this capability.”
Onieal says the impact with physicians will be interesting. “We’re just beginning to use video approaches with them, but I can see eCME done by video in a much more ubiquitous way,” she says.
The drawback of video advertising is the increased production costs. But Onieal costs can be reduced down by carefully considering how digital assets are stored and used.
Closing the loop
Another hot topic in pharma e-marketing is closed loop marketing.
“No matter where you are, as we look at e-channels to contact customers, the question is how do you pull it all together,” says Kevin Dolgin, a senior principal with IMS and a professor of marketing at the University of Paris. “All of this is generating enormous amounts of information and the most efficient marketers in the future are going to be those who can gather and continuously refine their segmentation approach and ways to contact individual customers. That effectively is closed loop.”
In fact, Dolgin says that in academic circles talk of segmentation is giving way to “particle” marketing, which is dealing with individuals rather than segments. “The only way to do that is closed loop marketing – where you end up with as many segments as individuals,” he says.
And he’s quick to point out that marketing to individuals is not just for the US market where direct to consumer advertising is allowed. “It can be done in Europe,” Dolgin says. “There are more barriers, but those innovative and dedicated enough to do it have greater competitive advantage.
He believes sales reps can really drive closed loop marketing forward. “You have to show them that it’s adding value, though,” Dolgin stresses. “You have to look at the whole e-marketing approach to see how you can provide value for customers. In Europe, you have to show that to clear regulatory hurdles anyway and that could be something the US could learn from.”
Clearly e-marketing approaches will have a key role in any new commercial sales model adopted by the industry. The possibilities are endless.
, Len Starnes and Kathleen oNieal will all be speaking at eyeforpharma’s 3rd annual eCommunication and Online Marketing Conference on 23-24th October in Boston. For more information visit www.eyeforpharma.com/ecomm2008 .
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Eye for Pharma 2008