The Cycle of DTC

blueskyThe history of DTC advertising (and by that I mean all consumer/patient outreach, not just TV), has seen a number of highs and lows over the years.

When campaigns first launched in the late ’90s and early 2000s, we watched as pharma marketers and their agencies worked to create brands out of medicines that, quite frankly, most users didn’t really want to have a relationship with.

During that time, we watched as Claritin and later Clarinex integrated graphics and special effects into their messages; we were introduced to critters including the Zoloft blob and Digger; we applauded the uniqueness of Vytorin’s “food & family” representation of the 2 sources of cholesterol. The Lunesta moth was heralded as iconic, while some of us scratched our heads over the story of Abe & the beaver as told by Rozerem.

The list goes on and on…. The point being, these were campaigns that sparked a reaction (good and bad), told a story, leveraged an insight, and by most accounts, helped our clients successfully market their drugs.

By the late 2000s, many of us noticed a perceptible shift in pharmaceutical campaigns. Some of this was coincident with a number of significant safety issues that prompted some of the major advertisers to pull back, and as more and more companies sought to “preclear” their ads through DDMAC and then OPDP, the feedback, in many cases in my experience, resulted in campaigns that while still engaging on some levels appeared to stop just short of eliciting any kind of emotion or reaction (again, good or bad). Our work still resulted in positive ROIs, it still won awards, but it just wasn’t the type of work that had people talking.

I’m happy to say that lately, the tide seems to be turning. Recent advertising for Crestor reinforces a positive brand experience by literally depicting a patient as a fan. A fairly light-hearted approach that still seems appropriate and responsible, still depicts the risks and benefits in a balanced manner, but one that evokes an emotional reaction, and presumably for Crestor users present and future, a connection with the brand. And campaigns like Novartis’ Gilenya illustrate how a brand can connect with patients—literally and figuratively.

Another positive outcome of this shift back to more emotive and insightful DTC appears to be a resurgence of more disease education. These campaigns are not only getting people to the doctor for appropriate medical advice and care, they are inspiring conversations and connections. Gilead’s “Full Frontal” campaign is provocative and buzz-worthy on the basis of its name alone…but the drama of the idea coupled with the real patient stories just increases the emotional impact and call to action.

So the next time a DTC ad turns up on your TV or Facebook feed…don’t skip it…you might be pleasantly surprised that DTC is back!

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Benefits of Rich Media

The digital pharmaceutical advertising market is proving to be a growing and changing market.  Gradually over the past couple of years, more innovative tactics have become more relevant. Rich media is one tactic that has become more widely accepted not only by pharma companies and advertisers, but also by publishers. Some of you may be asking, what is rich media and why is it becoming more popular?

Rich Media Banner—This is an ad that can contain images and/or video and involves some kind of user interaction which can elicit strong user response. The ads can include multiple levels of content in one placement.




The benefits of using rich media:

Ads Expand—The creative expands when the user interacts with the main image (for example, by clicking or mousing over it). This allows for a larger area to display more robust information, creative artwork and messaging while still being able to include a scrolling ISI and creative assets (videos, clinical data, polls/surveys, etc).

Breaks Through Banner Blindness—Banner blindness is a phenomenon in web usability where visitors to a website consciously or subconsciously ignore banner-like information, which can also be called ad blindness or banner noise. Rich media ads are more attention-grabbing and interactive, which helps separate them from being banner-like. Rich media banners also have proven to outperform standard display banners in key metrics such as time spent and interaction rate.

Information—Rich media banners can contain a significant amount of information, especially compared to standard display ads. This information can consist of videos, charts, clinical data, polls/surveys, or multiple creative messages. This allows advertisers to reach a larger target audience while also providing more options for multi-indication brands in one banner ad.

Metrics—The metrics in rich media banners are also greatly improved. Rich media offers standard metrics and also custom metrics. Standard metrics are more commonly known and consist of metrics like total display time, number of expansions, interactive impressions, and interactive rate. Custom metrics are added to components within a rich media banner, and only three different types are used: exits, counters and timer. These custom metrics can actually track a variety of calls to action within a rich media banner, like links within the banner, time spent on certain screens or data, and of course any click-through calls to action. These robust metrics offer a huge advantage over standard display banners which rely heavily on impressions and clicks.

User Experience—Overall user experience is improved through the use of rich media. The creative messaging can be so robust within a rich media banner that a call to action such as a click-through is not required. This actually allows users to stay on the same page where they saw the rich media banner, as opposed to clicking on a non-rich media banner that takes them to an entirely new page.

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Also posted in advertising, Analytics, Data, Design, Digital, Digital Advertising, Healthcare Communications, rich media, Strategy, Technology | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Best of SXSW 2014

sxsw logoI could give you a top 10 list or a top 5 list of what was best at SXSW. That would be great if I were trying to convince you of why attending SXSW is an amazing learning experience. However, what I’d like to provide is the best single thing I learned, and get into some actionable details.

So, I was ready to get into what seemed to be a great talk. I was on line waiting, about a dozen people away from the door, when I heard, “Sorry, this session is full.” So with that news I went next door and found a talk titled, “Let’s Get Physical—Design + Embodied Cognition,” by Michael Hendrix, Partner and Creative Director at IDEO. By chance, I’d just found what was to me the best talk of SXSW.

Embodied cognition is the theory that the human mind is largely determined by the form of the human body. To simplify, the mind is experiencing the world through all our senses. The more senses that are stimulated, the more powerful the experience.

The really interesting part of this is that our minds cannot really differentiate a real experience from an imagined one. For example, when we go to the movies and experience an action-packed film, we are experiencing intense visual and aural senses. Our reaction to this fabricated experience is that we may be sitting forward in our seat, our heart rate may increase and the palms of our hands may even sweat. Our minds are telling our bodies to react to the imaginary experience as though it’s real. This is powerful stuff. The more senses we engage in an experience, the more our minds take that experience in and make it memorable.

Brands are already using this principle to design their products to convey a certain aesthetic to potential buyers. One example provided at the SXSW session was that BMW makes the hinges on their car doors heavier to convey quality and safety. People who are looking to buy a car will place a premium on a safe, well-built car.

So how does this apply to our world of marketing? Well, let’s say we are creating an iPad piece for sales reps to detail to doctors. It is common for these to include some basic ways of swiping or tapping to navigate to content. Additionally, it is the sales rep who is usually using the device. However, if we want to make this experience memorable for doctors, we should put the device in their hands and tap into more of their senses. We should think about including interesting visual and audio content. Additionally, we can use the interactive capabilities of the iPad to engage even more of the senses. For example, the iPad will recognize with its built-in gyroscope if it’s tilted or moved in a three-dimensional space, with its motion sensor if it’s shaken, or with its multi-touch screen if it’s touched with multiple fingers.

This may sound like fun and games or interaction for interaction’s sake but there is real scientific research that backs up communicating this way. The more we can tap into human senses when we communicate, the more powerful and memorable the communication will be. And remember, that goes for real and imagined experiences. This is an idea that can breathe new life into the way we think about our clients’ needs.

SXSW Series:

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Digital Trends Impacting US Healthcare – Infographic

In the past year, digital innovations have brought about new markets and channels for digital health interactions. This infographic is a visual mapping of the technologies and innovations which are already playing a key role in shaping the future of healthcare and the experiences and journeys which surround it.

Of course the ACA is affecting healthcare coverage, but it is also affecting our healthcare experiences by placing increased importance on and driving more frequent interactions with NPs, PAs, and Pharmacists. Additionally, more priority has shifted to consumers to educate themselves and take responsibility for their own health, especially when combined with our growing culture of social media and trust networks, and recent draft guidance from the FDA. Video remains hot, but the trending has shifted to the length of videos patients are consuming, increasing its relevance to pharmaceutical marketers. Mobile and tablets continue to grow rapidly, with and quantified self driving deeper engagement though apps, not just web. Last, but certainly not least, EHR is poised to enter the next phase of meaningful use, setting the stage for a platform shake-out as certification requirements evolve to provide more and deeper data sets to systems of connected health as providers continue to on-board.

Infographic of important technologies that impact digital healthcare marketing.

Infographic of important technologies that impact digital healthcare marketing.

Technology is evolving fast, and healthcare, believe it or not, is keeping pace and even leading the charge on many fronts. Spurred on by government mandates and initiatives, innovative organizations ranging from Google and Apple to Silicon Valley startups like Practice Fusion are quickly carrying the ball forward, sometimes struggling to keep pace with consumer expectations of today’s technology. It’s these digital healthcare innovations which have set the trends affecting us today, and will carry us forward to tomorrow.

CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION: Questions? Comments? You can contact the author directly at blog@ochww.com. Please allow 24 hours for response.

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Engaging HCPs via Doximity: the LinkedIn for Medical Professionals

doximityIt should come as no surprise that colleagues are the top source of medical information for practicing physicians—trusted above all other sources. Considering the influence of colleagues in the physical realm, cyber communities are quickly rising as one of the prominent go-to sources for all things professional. Stated simply, online social networking expands a physician’s circle of peers.

Research supports the trend. According to a 2013 survey released by Kantar, 42% of physicians report using professional online networks (e.g., Physician Connect, Sermo) for professional purposes vs. 30% for general online social sites (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn).

Doximity, an online network dubbed the “LinkedIn for Physicians,” is gaining popularity among U.S. prescribers as a closed-loop professional network. With Doximity, medical professionals can quickly connect with colleagues nationwide to collaborate on patient treatment, identify appropriate experts for patient referrals, or seek new professional opportunities.

Doximity is the brainchild of Jeff Tangney, co-founder of Epocrates. Launched in March 2011, the network secured 30,000 users within nine months, representing approximately 5% of total licensed physicians operating in the U.S.

Today there are currently 130,000 physicians—representing 20%+ of U.S. physicians—actively using the network, and growth remains positive.

The platform is both an active network and database, allowing users access to 700,000 prebuilt U.S. public physician profiles. Doximity prepopulates its directory with practice information from the National Provider Identifier, Medicare and other HHS databases. Physicians who want to access and update their profiles must complete a three-step identity verification process. Once on board, they can search Doximity members by clinical interests, hospital affiliation, specialty, languages spoken, insurance accepted, and PubMed citations, among other criteria. They can also post challenging cases via the physician-only “iRounds” discussion platform, receive and send HIPAA-secure messages and images, exchange private phone lists, and share numbers for their back lines and pagers.

Example screenshot: Online CV (profile), inbox and search feature:


Online CVs include professional and clinical information such as training, work history, faculty appointments, publications, trial work, clinical interests and other credentials.






For Doximity, members who access the platform once in 180 days are classified as active. In general, 40% are monthly active users; 16% are weekly active users. For most markets, the network boasts 20% to 25% of the universe in terms of active users.

There are currently several large and unique online networks for medical professionals.

In the 2012 Taking the Pulse® survey, 16% of physicians reported using Doximity in the prior three months. Use drops significantly after Doximity to <5% for other professional communities.


According to Compete Website Analytics, actual Doximity site traffic shows double-digit growth this year.


Just like consumers, each physician is unique and will select his or her professional network(s) based on individual preferences. There are a number of factors that physicians will consider when seeking to join a community.

All four leading medical social platforms verify physician credentials, but when it comes to anonymity, there are some stark differences. The rise in popularity of Doximity and QuantiaMD may be attributed to unique features and benefits, but one could also argue that by allowing users to remain anonymous, Sermo conversations lack bona fides—the credibility of knowing who is offering opinions.

Based on the growth of these platforms, it can be argued that physicians are growing more comfortable offering opinions in a social realm. This contrasts sharply with the ongoing perception that threat of malpractice and privacy concerns will keep medical professionals off online communities.

Because relevance is also a driver for use, more and more specialty and therapeutically focused communities are emerging.  For example, the American College of Gastroenterology launched a community in 2009 available by College invite only. The community, ACG GI Circle, is hosted by Within3 and boasts over 3,900 members.


Doximity offers industry the opportunity to message members via the platform, syndicate brand assets (slide decks, case studies, articles, etc.) or pose questions for discussion.

Understanding that a core appeal of the platform is to foster connections, the network infrastructure also allows professional customers the ability to connect with a sales representative.

A key benefit of partnering with Doximity is the ability to easily segment a target audience by geographic, demographic, socioeconomic, and most importantly, psychographic (clinical interest, trial work, coauthored articles) criteria. Target list matching is also available.

Example screenshot: DocNews Alert sponsored message:










Reach out to your Ogilvy CommonHealth Medical Media account manager today to find out more about partnership opportunities with Doximity or other relevant social communities for HCPs.


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Also posted in Data, Digital, Healthcare Communications, Marketing, Networking, Physician Communications, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Response

A Day in the Life of a Media Professional…

Day-In-the-LifeTo be successful in media one must have an eye for detail, possess excellent organizational skills, demonstrate flexibility and work well in a team. It takes an army to accomplish our goals and ensure our clients are ahead of the trends. No two days are the same. As the day evolves, you will find it harder and harder to stay true to the planned agenda as new projects arise (like writing a blog entry). You work with teams across multiple markets on a daily basis. Processes for evaluating and selecting the media vehicles that best achieve campaign objectives are constantly evolving as new platforms and opportunities emerge. It’s an art form in many respects—half data-driven and half intuitive.

8:00 AM:

You roll in with an extra-large coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts and find a client approved an increase to the scope to investigate on-site promotional opportunities at an upcoming scientific meeting for the American Diabetes Association (ADA). You take a few minutes to update the job budget in Dashboard and get the ball rolling by requesting the exhibitors prospectus and sponsorship guide. You remember to ask for the list of programs already spoken for so you don’t include them in the consideration set. You make one more call to the outdoor media company to inquire about airport advertising and other out-of-home opportunities in the host city but must remember to check the society guidelines around the minimum required distance from the conference hall.  You also recall some organizations forbid taxi-top advertising, so you want to make sure you are following the guidelines for the ADA.

Turning back to your inbox, you see another new request. This one, from a sister agency in the network located in Australia, requires a brief presentation outlining the current spending trends across professional media channels in the U.S. They are specifically interested in the shift from medical journal advertising to e-detailing and other digital forms of promotion. It’s time to scour the trade publications for articles and pull some reports from the department’s third-party market research. You grab the data points and pull together a few slides.

 9:00 AM:

Time for the weekly team status for your global oncology account. The team has just learned the client is ready to plan their paid advertising schedule in Germany based on imminent country approval. They are interested in all promotional channels, so you need to prepare a publisher Request for Proposal (RFP) in order to understand reach to oncologists in Germany and geo-targeting opportunities. If the publisher has a print journal, can they geo-target offline advertising to a specific country or do they accept promotional pieces for poly-bag targeting?  What is the online site traffic for German physicians? Do they register to use the site and validate their specialty to ensure media dollars are being spent against the most relevant prescribers? What are the specs, timing and costs associated with offered programs? You work internally with the team to check on country-specific regulations to ensure all planned promotion is compliant.

10:00 AM:

Your 10 o’clock appointment just arrived. The publisher of a leading online physician medical portal is rolling out a new program with enhanced targeting and measurement capabilities, and they want to share the details. You’ll need to ask questions around cost, reach, timing, guarantees, editorial environment, etc., that will help you evaluate the opportunity for your current campaigns. You may find the program offers significant benefits over current programs and make recommendations to revise media schedules. The sales representative brings you muffins, which go nicely with the cold coffee you haven’t finished.

10:30 AM:

There is a pitch under way at the agency. You’ve been assigned the media lead to assist the pitch team and they need a market assessment covering competitor activity and the media consumption habits of the target audience. You’ll need to find a few hours somewhere to search the advertising audit service sorting copies of journal ads and online banners, pulling spend reports, and listing the media vehicles where the competitive set has appeared. Are there any insights in the data?

You’ll go back to the research subscriptions and pull the survey results for cardiologists to understand their adoption of mobile technology, what type of apps they use most often and what professional purposes drive their use of digital platforms. You’ll go one step further and compare the habits of these specialists to the physician norm.

11:00 AM:

Fire drill! No, not the real kind. There’s a problem with the banner ads for one of your campaigns—the kind where the FDA will hunt you down until it is fixed. You need to disable the tags (third-party ad serving codes) in DoubleClick immediately and contact all publisher partners to ensure the creative is completely out of their advertising rotation.

11:30 AM:

The creative team pulls through and immediately provides replacement files for the ads you just disabled. So, what does this mean? You’re going back into DoubleClick, uploading the new creative and reversing all the work you just completed. There are URL changes with different tracking codes added to the end of each one, so this time around it takes time to match and assign the correct ad to the correct placement to the correct URL. You blast out a mass BCC email asking all your publisher partners to send along screenshots of the new creative so that you can deliver the slide deck to your client team as proof of flighting.

12:57 PM:

Your first break of the day. You volunteer someone to swing by Dunkin’ Donuts, hit the bathroom and jog back to your desk just in time to make your 1:00 PM call.

1:00 PM:

You’re jumping on a tactical planning call to discuss branded launch plans for an upcoming blockbuster in the rheumatology market. You find out they need some slides from you to include in the master deck outlining a recommended advertising budget by channel—print, online, mobile, email, convention, search.

You’ve already completed the market analysis, so you’re a step ahead. Based on the maximum potential exposure to the universe of rheumatologists by channel, you were able to show that the competition has oversaturated the market. You learned that rheumatologists are the highest adopters of EMR/EHR platforms and mobile technology among all physicians. Considering the point of diminishing return, audience behavior and the attributes of the new compound (will introduce a novel MOA to the market), you recommend a highly focused mobile and EMR/EHR dominance strategy. Blocking the competition from these channels will offer a competitive advantage and provide the right environment for messaging around the patient support program and billing and reimbursement tools that will be offered.

3:00 PM:

Someone on the team hosted a lunch ’n’ learn today, so you get to eat. You grab a sandwich and head to your next meeting—which, of course, is on the other end of the building and down two floors.

Arriving at the meeting, you present your media plan for a new medical device to the agency team. You walk them through each recommended vehicle, placement and creative type. The conversation appropriately turns to defining success. It’s time to identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) and arrive at a measurement plan, including an understanding on how monthly metrics will be analyzed and how your plan will contribute to the overall campaign objectives, in this case driving enrollment in the new CRM program.

4:00 PM:

Finally back at your desk with no calls or meetings for the rest of the day. You realize you have a voicemail and after a quick peek at your missed calls, it looks like it was one of your other brands in the dermatology market. You listen to the message and find out that they have approved your multichannel media schedule for the upcoming year. This is great news—but now you need to contract for all the media space by the next day in order to lock in rates and hold the online inventory.

Buckling down, you gain client approval in writing and prepare the 50 contracts, one for each publisher. You begin development of the traffic workbook—the master placement breakdown grid providing digital specs, ad sizes and pricing. You’ll have to sit with the analyst tomorrow to review all the details.

6:00 PM:

Stir crazy and in need of a break, you decide to grab your mail and engage in a quick conversation with colleagues over the latest trends in the industry. Then it dawns on you.  You’ve promised your client a Point of View (POV) on the newest social network for physicians and haven’t started. This unfortunately won’t do, since you are meeting with the client tomorrow.  Heading back to your desk, you read through past email chains including concerns and questions along with what the team would like to better understand, and prepare a guide as to how you’re going to present the opportunity.

9:00 PM:

You finish the POV and are surprisingly happy with the finished product. After a few tweaks to the work and a 15-minute fight with the printer (which never works when you need it to), you sit down to read and respond to a few emails before heading home for the night.

9:30 PM:

As you prepare to shut down your computer, you see one last email come in and decide to check it before departing. Upon reading, you sigh heavily. The client meeting scheduled for tomorrow…was just cancelled.

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