According to an Accenture study, fully 87% of TV viewers multitask with a smartphone, tablet, or laptop while they’re watching TV. For DTC marketers, this means TV delivers a substantial bonus: When proactive patients or caregivers see a commercial for a relevant condition, many take a moment to search the brand name, and then visit the brand’s website. See the example below. When diabetes medicine Invokana launched branded TV, search activity for keyword “Invokana” spiked. Check any DTC launch at Google trends, and you’ll see a similar spike.

But as good as TV is at driving traffic, there are easy, effective ways to make the medium work even harder:

1. End DTC commercials with a website call-to-action. We know that the two most important parts of a TV commercial are the opening, as it’s got to get your target’s attention, and the closing, as it delivers the call-to-action. Most DTC calls-to-action go something like this “Ask your doctor if XYZ is right for you.” But given what we know about the importance of a website visit, the suggestion here is to close with “…to learn more about XYZ, visit XYZ.com, that’s XYZ.com.”

2. Schedule your campaign during the week, when more patients search for relevant information. This is easily discoverable, and it’s free. Simply go to Google Trends, enter a relevant disease-state, hit time period 90 days, and you’ll get a result that looks like the one below. Here we see that many more searches for “asthma” took place Monday thru Friday than on the weekend. This pattern holds true for most disease states.

3. Choose TV programming that facilitates DTC search. A client who understood the importance of getting patients to her brand’s website asked if viewers were more likely to search the internet while watching some TV programs than others. In this case, we ran a MARS cross-tab, and found that patients were, literally, twice as likely to search for healthcare information while watching the News. It makes sense, as most of us watch the News with less intensity than, for example, a drama such as Law & Order. In other words, it’s easier to pull away from the News for a quick search. Next time your media agency evaluates TV programs the networks propose, make sure “percent patients likely to search healthcare info” is up high among the criteria.

Net: With a little bit of scheduling and call-to-action savvy, DTC TV will not only build your brand’s awareness, the medium will drive substantial traffic to your brand’s website. It’s a heck of a bonus that costs next to nothing to execute.

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