Advanced Metrics for Demonstrating Campaign Success in Pharma Marketing

In today’s rapidly evolving marketplace, pharmaceutical brands and their partners are striving to capitalize on the most effective metrics that determine the success of their marketing campaigns. Increasingly, marketers are aware that traditional metrics, such as impressions, clicks, cost per thousand impressions (CPM), and cost per click (CPC), are no longer sufficient, with more advanced metrics relating to audience quality and even impact becoming vital to demonstrating campaign success. However, applying such advanced metrics can be perceived as challenging and collaboration between all partners is thereby required to help achieve progress in these areas.

Do Traditional Metrics Tell the Whole Story?

The traditional metrics for measuring brand campaign success noted above remain fundamentally important and continue to play a role in ascertaining the strength of a campaign. However, they cannot stand alone as they do not convey information as to whether the messaging was delivered to the appropriate person, whether this person is relevant to the specific disease state or brand, etc. In other words, it is important that someone clicks on an ad but this in a silo will not let you know with certainty that the campaign is reaching the intended audience, (i.e., the patient or the prescribing physician). Additionally, one would not know if the intended impact is ultimately achieved, (i.e., new patient starts and/or the retention of the patient on therapy).

Understanding the Patient Continuum

When considering which metrics are most effective, we need to remember that behind all media engagements are audiences on a variety of disparate healthcare journeys. Brand marketing does not have a one-size-fits-all approach, especially when considering patient populations and the impact brands may have on them. Those impacted populations are diverse: they think, feel, and behave differently depending on where they are in their journey. Patient journeys are never a straight line and will thereby need to be considered in how you measure campaign performance (see figure below).

Typically, patients have unique needs based on where they are in the journey: disease-unaware, diagnosed and brand seeking, or an established patient. Marketers can also communicate with each patient type in diverse ways with different definitions of what success may look like: awareness and education, eligible reach, conversion to therapy, or adherence tracking. The measurements will also vary by disease category, brand, campaign, and target audience. All of which is possible when using real-world, health-centric data sets.

Advanced Metrics: Audience Quality and Impact

Advanced metrics focus on identifying qualified targets and measuring behavior change. Several dimensions are important when applying these advanced metrics for campaign optimization, which can include audience quality, impact, and performance.

Audience quality metrics explore and confirm whether your audience of interest is aligned to a specific therapeutic category diagnosis and/or specific brand or market Rx. In other words, are you reaching the intended audience(s)?

The audience quality metrics provide answers to the following questions:

  • Is the media reaching the right people—patients and prescribers?
  • Are we reaching potential patients at the right time in the patient journey?
  • Which tactics reach patients with the greatest cost efficiency?

Metrics such as cost per target (cost associated with reaching your target population) and audience quality (percentage showcasing how many of the exposed users were your target population) help in making more informed decisions in the optimization cycle. The goal of this continuous process is to gain efficiencies and improve the return observed for the campaign overall.

Case in point, if a campaign were optimized by CPM as opposed to cost per target, those changes would reflect only what may be the most efficiently served impressions overall but do not provide insight into who those impressions were served to. By leveraging audience quality metrics, you gain valuable insights in delivery to better optimize your campaign and focus efforts on what works best for your target population.

Impact metrics are named so because these data points uncover and confirm whether individuals being exposed to media demonstrate behavior change. Specifically, where are you seeing an incremental lift in new patient starts or doctor’s office visits for your brand or target audience among those reached by your campaign?

The impact metrics help provide answers to the following questions:

  • Is media driving real-world behavior change in our target population?
  • Which channels and tactics are driving this behavior change?
  • Where is the greatest efficiency being recognized in driving the above?

With impact metrics, a direct correlation from your media’s contribution to brand adoption is feasible whereas with traditional metrics, this correlation is sometimes assumed but unproven. For example, being able to attribute disease awareness campaigns with doctor office visitations provides significant insights into targeting strategies that work best for your target population in driving behavior change that may differ from what traditional metrics may recognize. Costs associated with behavior changes also help to provide efficiency gains by optimizing campaigns based on where you are seeing the greatest impact from your campaign. Tying back business outcomes to campaign exposures is key to ensuring your campaign dollars are invested and optimized effectively.

Based on audience quality and impact metrics multiple datapoints can be integrated to gain performance acuity, which helps generate an understanding of the following questions:

  • Are we seeing market activity (doctor visits, diagnoses, and/or scripts written) occurring with our exposed audiences?
  • What are the best sites and placements driving key performance indicators (KPIs) that benefit the brand objectives?
  • Which combination of tactics and targeting drives greatest impact?

Transition to Advanced “Real-time” Metrics

Despite the persuasive benefits of combining traditional campaign metrics with advanced metrics, many brand marketers tend to rely on traditional metrics when planning and executing their campaigns.

The hesitation towards applying advanced metrics may stem from a concern that advanced metrics are not immediately accessible as they require comprehensive analytics and reporting. Contrary to this common belief, solutions provided by integrated omnichannel platforms can deliver quintessential campaign performance data and visualizations updated on a weekly basis. Applying extensive real-world data sets, such platforms offer measurement for all stages of the evolving patient journey. With the right measurement partner, campaign optimizations do not have to be delayed for months and months waiting for advanced metrics to be available.

What was once considered a long arduous process can now be implemented and optimized in a timely manner based upon when you need to make critical business decisions. While recognizing advanced measurement on a frequent occurrence has inherent benefits, it is critical that all parties work conjointly to identify what the appropriate cadence should be. As we referenced earlier, what good looks like will vary depending on the patient journey and therapeutic category.

Evolving Marketing Landscape

Given the industry’s dynamic marketplace, advanced metrics are essential for capturing marketing—and new concepts and models will continue to emerge to improve measurement tools and approaches.

Among the new features is the concept of ROI guarantees or audience guarantee where the publisher or agency partner guarantee a certain target audience or impact threshold to be reached with the campaign. If the agreed audience threshold is not achieved by the campaign, the provider may be obligated to deliver additional impressions free of charge until the threshold is met. Such contractual arrangements can be challenging in the case of unforeseen market events. The core takeaway here should be, “Is an audience or ROI guarantee the right path forward?”

The answer is “yes” if there is data-driven planning/forecasting, an established measurement platform/framework, and an adequate runway to make optimizations for all parties involved. For example, entering an ROI guarantee contract may be a particular challenge with a launch drug, especially in a crowded therapeutic category. While there is excitement in the industry around the opportunity represented with audience guarantees, many may need more time to understand its impact on a case-by-case basis before it is a standard operating model.

As the pharmaceutical marketplace continues to evolve, an adaptive omnichannel measurement framework is needed that applies an integrated set of metrics, including both foundational media metrics and advanced metrics focused on audience quality and impact on behavior change.

Involving an independent third-party is also critically important to deliver objective and transparent validation of campaign metrics to enhance the collaboration among the partners around the brand (i.e., pharma company, publisher, and agency of record).

Finally, collaboration among cross-service functions and industry partners is pivotal for successful implementation of advanced and new metrics for improved campaign measurement results and patient outcomes. When the brand, agency, and data provider are in alignment, both the effectiveness of the campaign and KPI proof points will be improved. The end result is better outcomes for both brands and the patients they serve.

  • Andrew Burkus

    Andrew Burkus is Senior Principal, Omnichannel Marketing at IQVIA. Within IQVIA’s Omnichannel Center of Excellence, Andrew is an expert in DTC and HCP promotional targeting, predictive modeling, and campaign measurement and optimization with over 12 years of health and wellness industry experience.

  • Zachary Farrell

    Zachary Farrell is Associate Principal, Omnichannel Marketing at IQVIA. Zachary has over a decade of media planning and client strategy experience focused on omnichannel marketing within the health and wellness industry. Zachary partners with clients in the development of new measurement engagements, cultivating an in-depth knowledge of client strategies and business issues, to define project needs that align to key objectives.


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