Drug Industry Shifting from Broadcast to Digital DTC Marketing

Will we be saying good-night to Rozerem's surreal, yet hokey Abe Lincoln and the Beaver? One recent marketing report suggests that pharma consumers may be seeing fewer of those expensive television and print ads that everyone loves to criticize, as drug companies increase their use of social media outlets and digital marketing. The group that may benefit most?  Senior citizens who don't use the Internet. Will this shift to digital leave less fodder for parodists?  Perish the thought, at least if Bayer's Aleviator web site  is a sign of things to come. The site aims to make the pain reliever Aleve a bit more fun to a younger crowd.  Its concept story is that of a nerdy scientist and attractive female news reporter joining forces to defeat "People Against Internet Networking. "Ed Silverman blogged about it last week but you can visit  www.aleviator.com and judge for yourself.  (Site concept deserves an A for creativity) But here's the real news:  In its latest check up on direct to consumer drug marketing, the pharma CRM specialist, Cegedim Dendrite, finds that pharma is embracing online media and all it entails---web sites, SEM, and email---to build stronger relationships with consumers.  As a result, traditional broadcast outlets will be de-emphasized in more pharma marketing plans. We've already seen a number of new pharma company blogs (e.g. JNJ's) and product blogs and forums. "The U.S. pharmaceutical industry is using technology to build a better and more proactive dialogue with consumers," says Carl Cohen, President of Marketing Solutions for Cegedim Dendrite, which provides technology products and services to the global pharmaceutical industry. " Consumer education programs, at pharmacies and doctors offices will become more important, the study says, as well newsletters and refill reminders. More directly from Cegedim Dendrite's press release below. A full copy of the report is said to be available on www. dendrite.com (but it can't be located within my three-minute limit...will likely will be posted soon). "The continuing growth of online media and technology to build and sustain consumer relationships, coupled with the decline in traditional mass marketing advertising," Cohen says, "confirms that pharmaceutical companies can use alternative media to match the impact of general advertising more cost effectively and with quicker results. At the same time, the pharmaceutical industry is using new approaches to help patients comply with taking their prescriptions, which can have a major positive impact on public health." Another major trend identified by this year's survey is cautious optimism about DTC spending growth for 2007. While DTC spending is not experiencing the growth it has had in previous years, nearly half of respondents expect DTC spending to increase this year. Only a quarter expect it to increase by more than 5 percent, however. The biggest challenge in DTC marketing continues to be government regulations, which were cited by 61 percent of respondents, up from 50 percent last year. Meanwhile, adverse consumer reaction to DTC marketing was mentioned as a problem by only 31 percent of respondents, down from 44 percent last year. The fifth annual Check-Up probes the concerns of industry participants, identifies areas of opportunity, and specifies trends in spending and marketing mix. The survey's responses were from a cross-section of U.S. manufacturers, agencies and vendors. -AMS