As 2009 wraps up, I thought I’d give a sneak peek into what’s planned on this blog for 2010. Just as aside, I find it odd that we’re going into a year that had a movie made about it. Seemed like the distant, distant future in 1984 when 2010 was made. Sadly, we still don’t have a lot of the futuristic inventions from the movie and I don’t think we’re likely to make contact with any new life forms in 2010 unless they visit us or NASA has a really, big year.
Alas, all is not lost, for we do have the Internet and with the Internet comes blogs just like the one you’re reading now.
So, what can you expect from Dose of Digital in 2010? Sorry, no flying cars or meal-in-a-capsule type inventions here, but hopefully some content to help you become an even better marketer in 2010 and beyond.
Here are some of the major things you’ll see in 2010 from Dose of Digital:
10 Things to Inspire Pharma’s Digital Creativity — Just as the title suggests, I’ll show you 10 things that others have done (both inside, but mostly outside pharma) to inspire you to think about what’s possible
New Year’s Resolutions for Pharma Marketers — It was a successful series when I did it to start 2009 (how’d you do keeping the resolutions?), so we’ll try it again this year. Here’s part 5 of last year’s, with links to the other four parts.
The “Dosies” — Wondering which efforts in healthcare and pharma social media are the best? Wonder no more. Early in 2010, we’ll bring you The Dosies, which will award the best examples of social media in the industry from the list on the Pharma and Healthcare Social Media Wiki. You’ll even have a chance to vote.
The Myths and Realities of Pharma Social Media — Ever wonder what’s real and what’s not when it comes to pharma social media? What should you worry about and what should you not? What’s working and what’s not? One presentation will pull it all together. That’ll be out in January to start the year right.
Results versus ROI — Do you know the difference? If you do, then you’re in the minority.
How Data Mining Can Save Lives — Did you know that all the data out there has the answer to a lot of the clinical questions we keep asking? You just need to know where to look. The question is: what should pharma do about it?
What’s Your Homepage? — Chances are that the first thing people see about your brand online isn’t your homepage and yet you spent millions on it. The first thing they see is almost certainly something you don’t even control. What are they seeing and how can you do something about it?
“We Hate Your Website” — I’m trying to write a full-size book this year and you’ll get to hear a bit about the process and have some chances to offer your feedback (and maybe get quoted in the final version). For some more detail, check out this page.
“Digital Savviness” — Not a full-sized book, but a mini-book. Along with the book comes a web-based tool that you can use to access the “savviness” of your customers when it comes to digital and get suggestions on which tactics might be the best to reach them. The draft of the mini-book is done and the website is under development. For more on this, including my presentation on the concept, check out this page. Did I mention both the book and site are free to everyone?
That’s just a taste of what’s coming out in the first quarter of 2010. Who knows what the rest of the year may hold?
In the meantime, thank you for all your support and for making this blog more popular than I would have ever imagined. It’s been a great experience for me personally and I look forward to even more discussions in 2010.
I was recently invited by my friend Ellen Hoenig Carlson (read her blog, Notes from the Back of the Book, for some great healthcare marketing insights) to contribute to a project she was hoping to put together in time for Christmas. Her vision was for it to be something of a holiday gift to all the healthcare marketers of the world. It was a pretty ambitious effort, as she was attempting to corral twelve different authors in a very short period of time. It was going to be an ebook featuring the insights from a diverse group of individuals on the topic of healthcare marketing. I didn’t think she’d be able to put it off (don’t tell her).
But, she did pull it off. She managed to get twelve industry bloggers to give their view on a deceptively simple question: “what would you recommend as the top learning strategies for Pharma and Healthcare marketers in 2010?”
Where to begin? Of course, I think all marketers have a lot to learn especially when it comes to digital (myself included), but also in many other areas. We all do. In fact, the opening quote Ellen used for the ebook was this:
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” — Alvin Toffler
So, I guess we all have something to learn. Personally, I got quite a bit out of this ebook. When people ask me which blogs they should be reading when it comes to healthcare marketing, the list of people that Ellen pulled together is pretty much the list that I recommend. Here are the contributors to the ebook:
Phil Baumann, Phil Baumann online blog, CareVocate Interactive Media Solutions
There’s a diverse group of topics included in the ebook, but there are certainly some common themes and also different perspectives on similar issues. I’d invite you to read the entire ebook and share it with others. It’s a great way to start 2010 and a fine holiday gift from Ellen. Thanks to her for pulling this together and to all the contributors for sharing their unique perspectives and insights.
Best wishes for a great 2010. I’ll have lots more to get your year started off in a big way next week and in early January. Stay tuned.
As always, if you’d like to be alerted when I have new white papers are available, feel free to sign up just fill out the form below. Your information will only be used for this purpose and will never be shared under any circumstance.
For avid Facebook users, you’ve all noticed the ads that are stuck onto the right side of your screen on nearly every page.
You haven’t noticed them? Well, they are there. Go check it out for yourself and come back.
See. I told you they were there. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t notice them. You’re in good company. Most people don’t notice them. Like many forms of banner ads, they are simply ignored and since they are relatively new to Facebook and people are very focused while on the site, this is even more true. Of course, you may have checked and found that there are no ads on Facebook for you. Congratulations. You’re in good company again along with the millions who use browser plugins to disable all of these ads (myself included).
Oh, yes, people don’t click on them much either. Check out the results from several campaigns I’ve done on Facebook as experiments. The bolded line at the bottom is the aggregate. These campaigns ranged from very broad to highly targeted, but the results are the same…pretty lousy clickthrough rates. (PS: if you’re thinking about advertising on Facebook, lean towards paying per click versus per impression…no one’s going to click on them, so you should be fine.)
0.074% clickthrough rate. Not 7%. Zero-point-zero-seven percent. Not even a measly half a percent.
I think Facebook knows that this isn’t great and they’re trying to make up for this in a couple of ways. First, price. For all of these campaigns combined, I spent around $200. That’s not going to bankrupt anyone and that got me 614,000 impressions. That’s about $3 per 1000 impressions. Not horrible. Per click, however, I spent about $0.43, which isn’t go great seeing as I probably could have done A LOT better doing paid search on Google.
The second way that Facebook is trying to help advertisers (and users), is by ensuring that only quality ads are shown. Google does this as well by adding in a “quality score” to determine which paid search ads occupy the first couple of positions. You can’t just outright buy the first paid search spot. Over time, if no one ever clicks on your ad, it’ll start to fall regardless of what you bid for the keyword. This is good for users. It’s also good for advertisers. Yes, it makes their job a bit harder because they have to make more relevant ads, but they should have been doing this in the first place. So, even if they have to be somewhat forced into making more relevant ads, it still works out.
The way Facebook helps force advertisers to make better ads is through their rating system. Take a look at a selection of ads that recently appeared on my page:
As you can see, they’re all thrilling and well-targeted to me. Just a quick look through and what do I see? First, in ad #1, I can apparently become a timber wolf judging by the color of this “person’s” eyes. Good news in ad #2, I’m this close to being a filmmaker, which I’ll just call a good fall back job for me if this whole marketing thing doesn’t pan out. And ad #3 features one of my most annoying activities of the Internet, “Mafia Wars.” If you’ve got a Facebook account, you’ve been invited to play this “game.” This is a blocked application for me (yet, I still get the ad for it).
Bottom line: nothing terribly relevant even though Facebook’s ad creation tool let’s you target the ads to point that literally only a handful of people would see it if you so chose. Between selecting for age range, network, location, and keywords, you can target these ads to an almost frightening degree. But all this targeting apparently doesn’t matter based on clickthrough rates I’ve seen.
Okay, so back to how Facebook “forces” advertisers to make better ads and the point of today’s post. You’ll notice at the bottom of each ad is a thumbs up and the word “Like.” In the upper-right of each ad is an “X,” which is positioned just like the “X” in Windows programs. Here’s how it works…if you click the “Like,” then presumably the ad get some additional quality score, which might make it show up higher on the page (just like Google’s paid search quality score) and you might get more ads with a similar demographic target. What’s missing is a “Hate” or “Dislike” option, but the “X” actually serves that function. If you click the “X” to close the ad, Facebook wants to know why and gives you this pop-up:
As you can see, the “X” is basically serving as a “Dislike,” but you’ve got to be “in the know” in order to know about this (and now you are). Many people have complained about this feature and would rather see a “Dislike” button (myself included). There’s even a Facebook Fan Page called “Facebook, give us a dislike button” with more than 550,000 fans. It’s basically a petition to Facebook demanding this feature. Facebook isn’t known for being very responsive to its users demands, so this might happen, but only if Facebook decides on its own that it’s necessary.
Of course, Facebook, like many other media properties, wants to protect it’s advertisers. Presumably, if you give people a “dislike” button, then when people click it there needs to be some sort of repercussion. Perhaps with enough “dislikes” the ad has to be pulled permanently or the advertiser has to pay more to have it placed. Advertisers don’t like this idea, so their collective power puts companies like Facebook in a tough spot. Make the users happy by allowing them to get rid of the worst ads or make the advertisers (who pay the bills) happy by allowing them to put up any ad they want. You can’t have both. Right now, Facebook has the latter.
I don’t mean to pick on Facebook, as they aren’t the only media property with this dilemma and very few have given any sort of real power to the users to control the ads they see. But, imagine if they did. Imagine if this were required. That’s right, everywhere that your ad appears online, there are also “Like” and “Dislike” buttons. Those ads with the most “Likes” get shown more often and the advertiser pays less and those with the most “Dislikes” get shown less often and the advertisers pay more. The question for media properties then becomes: “can I afford to only have “liked” ads on my site?” That is, if advertisers pay less if people like their ads, will the media properties make enough money? Do they need the cash from the “Disliked” ads just to keep the lights on? To answer the question: “can I afford to?” my answer is “Can you afford not to?” People are already looking for (and finding) ways to block all these ads anyway, so why not increase the chances that they don’t block them by actually making them good?
What’s that you say? It’s not possible to make a banner ad that people want to see? Try this one on for size:
Told you so. There are ads that people want to see. The ad for Pringles you see (and probably clicked a bunch of times) was even the winner of the Gold Cyber Lion at the Cannes Advertising Festival this past year. It’s the highest honor you can get for digital work…and it was a banner ad. Fair balance, my company, Bridge Worldwide, created that banner for Pringles (we are the digital agency of record for the brand). [Read my post: "What Pharma Can Learn from Pringles" to hear more about how this ad applies to pharma]
Question: how many “likes” versus “dislikes” would the Pringles ad have gotten? To give you a clue, after the award was announced, a link to a demo of the ad showed up on several social media sites including Buzzfeed, reddit, and many others. It was all over Twitter to the point that the link to view the ad (click to see it in a page) was the 4th most tweeted link on Twitter that day. More than 200,000 people came to see the ad in 2 days…on purpose. That is, they went out of their way to see an ad. Can your ads do that?
Of course, not every ad can be “Can Hands” and certainly it wouldn’t be appropriate for healthcare, but the point remains that our ads don’t have to be mind-numbingly boring and distracting to users. The don’t have to be so bad that people just want them to disappear.
So, here are some current pharma banner ads. Unfortunately, I don’t have the animated versions (only the Premarin one has actual animation, the rest have “scrolling” fair balance only), but I can assure you that it doesn’t add much. Which would you “like” and which would you “dislike”? PS: You don’t have to “like” any of them.
The Premarin Banner (with the cloud) at least has some animation, albeit odd and “icky” animation.
I’ll just leave it at that rather than ask a lot of questions about what purple rain has to do with vaginal dryness.
So, which did you give a “like” vote to and which did you give a “dislike” vote to? I’m going to guess that none of them got a “like” vote, which would indicate you’d like to see more of a particular ad. I’d further guess that just about every ad here would have gotten a “dislike.” So, if we implemented a system where only “liked” ads are shown prominently and repeatedly and “disliked” ads were show less often and in less obvious positions, these pharma companies would be paying a lot more to advertise their products.
Sadly, there isn’t a system like this in place now…or is there? There is, of course, a de facto voting system already. If people like your ad, they’ll click on it. That’s a “like.” If people don’t like your ad, they won’t click on it. That’s a “dislike.” So, how are your click rates? Is the media property or your media buying agency telling you that your rates are good? Do you think they’re good? How many times did you click on the Pringles banner? Granted, I called attention to it, so more people clicked on it than might have in the “real world.” However, I didn’t make you click it twice or, say, all 97 times (you did make it to the end, right?).
People are voting on your ads. Not just your banner ads either. Your paid search ads, your TV ads, and print too. They’re also voting on the “advertising” your reps deliver to doctors and your marketing at conventions or conferences. People are always voting on your marketing. The question is: are you listening to how they’re voting? Are you making change s based on these “votes”? Maybe you’re just continuing as if you’re completely unaware that these votes exist. Eventually, the voters will have their say and you might not like who they pick.
After reading a bunch of Twitter buzz and a few blog posts, I wanted to weigh in with my opinion on the most recent hot topic relating to pharma, social media, and the FDA. As you all know, the FDA recently had hearings about the use of social media by pharma companies. A number of people have pointed out that patients were very much under-represented at the hearings (John Mack did the math). Only 5 of the 60 or so speakers were those you could classify as “patient advocates” whether they were patients themselves or speaking on behalf of patient groups. As many have noted since the hearings, this number is probably too low. I agree…sort of.
First off, there’s a reason why patient participation was low. Your “average” patient certainly wouldn’t have known about the hearings. They weren’t talked about on the evening news and by the time they might have found out through some blog or industry journal (if they even read them), the registration period would have long since closed. Perhaps there were many more patients or patient advocacy groups that would have liked to have given their opinion. Of course, they still can, as public comments are open until February (all the info you need to do so is here). It’s unclear if any patients have actually taken the time to do this. However, you can probably bet that your “average” patient isn’t going to be the one who writes comments to the FDA. By “average,” I mean your parents, your friends, not patient bloggers or advocacy group leaders. This is fine. There’s nothing wrong with these leaders being the only patients who submit comments. I love the fact that these leaders exist and really, truly speak on behalf of the groups they lead…nothing in it for them, no ego, just trying to do what’s right for the group. Names like Manny Hernandez (TuDiabetes) and Gilles Frydman (ACOR) come to mind as two great examples.
What’s my point? Where am I going with this?
Well, a lot has been made recently on many blogs and Twitter that the hearings, and by extension, the guidelines that come from these hearings will be completely devoid of any feedback or consideration of patients, who will be the ones really impacted by the final decision. I’ll quote one very representative view (which ironically includes a quote from me), which comes from my friend, John Mack in a recent post (quote in italics):
At the November, 2009, BDI Forum in New York City (“Healthcare Social Communications Leadership Forum Breakfast”), a question from the audience to a panel I was part of got to the core of the value of pharma to online patient communities. The question was “Should pharma be in discussion forums or lists frequented by patients? Do we need an industry consensus where we shouldn’t go?”
My colleague on the panel, Jonathan Richman (@jonmrich) noted that some consumer advocates speaking at the recent FDA public hearing said that under no circumstances should pharmaceutical companies be allowed to engage consumers in discussions on social networks. Jonathan thought that was too extreme. He suggested a few examples where such discussions could bring some value to the online patient community. He said there is data to suggest that patients/consumers would value the discussion if done the right way.
The problem is the TOTAL LACK OF PATIENT REPRESENTATION in this discussion! We’ve heard opinions of agencies and seen data from studies sponsored by agencies, but what are the views of real patients who have been using social media for years? [italics add, bold and caps his]
You can go to John’s blog to see my response, as it’s not really important for my point today. Let’s be clear. I agree that patients should have a voice and that the FDA should want their opinions.
Here’s where it gets controversial: patient feedback in the guideline development process is not at all necessary. The guidelines, whatever they are, will have very little impact on patients.
Now, before you alert the authorities, let me explain. First, to be sure, I don’t want pharma to turn social media into a free for all of advertising. I was pretty clear about that in my testimony for the FDA (download my presentation for “Question 3″). While I said that pharma should be able to participate, I was also pretty restrictive on how they should be allowed to do this. One of these restrictions was that pharma shouldn’t be allowed to just jump into conversations unsolicited. Rather, they can (and should) get involved in discussions where there is a question about one of their brands or some misinformation about one of their brands. Wouldn’t this be seen as a positive versus a negative if done appropriately? On the other hand, trying to sell a product shouldn’t be allowed or encouraged. For example, when someone says, “does anyone know which treatment is best for depression?” I don’t want to see 25 pharma companies come out of nowhere and give the details on why their product is the best. That is, I don’t want pharma to have unfettered authority and access to do whatever they want online in social media or any other place.
Back to patient feedback on the guidelines. I’ve read a few great patient posts on this (here and here are couple of them). It seems to me that these patients are pretty much in agreement with me. Many say that they don’t want pharma involved at all in social media (which seems like an unlikely outcome). Others Iv’e read seem open to some involvement. Now, here’s why the guidelines will have no impact on patients.
Social media is just that: social. No one is in charge. No one has a higher rank than anyone else. It’s democracy in action. Yes, there are people who are more influential than others and can drive the community in one direction or another, but in the end, the people, whether they be patients or buyers of computers or new mothers, decide what happens in the community. They decide what’s credible, who they listen to, who gets “air time,” and, most important, who succeeds and who fails. Those with more influence aren’t the new members of the community (as pharma companies would be). They are long established members who people learned to trust for a number of reasons. That’s how social media works.
So, picture this: guidelines come out and pharma is allowed to do whatever they want in social media. Does this mean that they actually can? Say a pharma companies joins Tu Diabetes, for example, and inserts itself into a conversation about a particular treatment. If the community doesn’t want them there, that’s it. The show is over for the pharma company. People will ignore them, block them, report them, flag them, and everything else you do to people you don’t want in your community. The community polices itself. That which is not valuable or valued is ignored and rejected. That which is useful and beneficial rises to the top. Which direction do you think the average pharma company would find itself heading in these communities?
This is why I say that patient feedback into the guidelines isn’t necessary. All the guidelines do is give a guide to what is legal and what’s not. They don’t give a guide as to what’s effective and what’s not. A pharma company trying to insert itself into a conversation where it is not welcome will never be effective regardless of what’s actually legal.
In fact, in the end, patients have the most influence on the guidelines. Far beyond any pharma company or agency or government official, the end user, the patient, decides what’s effective, what influences them, and what’s meaningful. Patients don’t care about guidelines. They care about the quality of the discussion and the support they get from others. Do you think they’re going to let pharma companies get in the way of that?
Granted, some patient groups might prefer to nip this in the bud right now by banning pharma straight away from these discussions and avoid the trouble of policing it later. That’s not realistic though. So, in lieu of that, patients should be speaking with their actions in social media and not with their feedback to some set of government guidelines (which may never come). Sure, patients should absolutely submit their feedback to FDA, but they can have far more impact in social media with their actions. There are hundreds of examples from other industries of consumers destroying a company’s social media efforts when they find it useless, insulting, or just plain annoying. Why would patients behave any differently?
If pharma companies come to social media with the same promotional tactics that they use on TV and print, they will fail miserably. Who will see to it that they fail? Not the FDA. Not some set of guidelines. Patients will.
This blog is all about the latest technology advances that are going to improve our health and lengthen our lives. It's not the blockbuster drug advances, but digital technology that will lead the health revolution. The content of this site is brought to you by the many talented visionaries from around the WPP network. We aim to help shape the vision, direction, and conversation of where health technology is headed.
This blog is all about the latest technology advances that are going to improve our health and lengthen our lives. It's not the blockbuster drug advances, but digital technology that will lead the health revolution. We aim to help shape the vision, direction, and conversation of where health technology is headed. The managing editor for Dose of Digital is Bill Evans.