In the marketing arena, there are numerous ways of reaching a target audience, so the type of tactic selected is crucial to achieving maximum results. We talk about effectiveness and being efficient, but we really must make sure the media strategy meets the marketing objectives.
Journal advertising is still one of the most used forms of advertising pharma companies can select in the marketing mix. This is still the foundation for the majority of media plans and in some cases still the only tactic used to communicate the product message. Digital advertising, however, is growing significantly and dollars are being used to support this form of media quicker than other forms of broadcast, print and mail.
However, instead of reaching everyone with the shotgun approach, why not target by geography or demographics. For years, consumer advertising has used this technique and it has been extremely successful. Now more than ever, pharmaceutical companies want to reach physicians, healthcare professionals such as NPs and PAs, and also the patient. Yet it becomes too cost prohibitive.
A successful form of marketing media is Geomarketing (or Geographic Marketing). This is a new method of marketing a product through web searches, mobile searches and social media. It is simply achieved using the Internet and mobile devices.
Digital Media and Geotargeting (Geographical Targeting) can be executed on various levels in order of granular to broad: zip code, city, DMA, state and country. Specific targeting can be implemented if we have a list of doctors that have opted in or patients requesting information. We can even get more detailed by geofencing. For geofencing, we set up parameters based on latitude and longitude to target individuals only when they have walked within those fences and are on their phone. These strategies are very important when you want to look for a customer audience within a certain location, i.e., a four-block radius, within the airport, or within one mile, etc.
Geotargeting allows our target to see our ad message, which is focused on their particular needs. Journals can adapt geotargeting by buying a portion of the country with zip codes. Although the cost may not be as efficient as buying a full run circulation, buying a demographic audience is more common with journals. An ad can appear on the same stock pages as the editorial and different editions are printed for specific locations. Micromarketing used to be the term to do this, and now geomarketing and geofencing have replaced this concept. In geofencing, we specifically have the ability to target mobile phones with ads aimed at a particular audience—for instance, targeting oncologists during the annual society meeting at a time when they are thinking about new solutions for their patients.
Given the strict regulatory environment for prescription products, the challenge is to create a message that is credible, educational and interesting while meeting FDA requirements. For print, we identify the locations, and run our ads in these markets. It’s the same for digital except we set up a campaign to align our ad message with our audience and recommend buying key words or sentences that the advertiser runs next to content or words selected. With geofencing, we not only reach the specific office of the physician in a specific location but we can also target the specific location in the office. These impressions will be less than a regular buy, but are targeted and focused, which is worth more to an advertiser.
On a final note, there is always the question of reach vs. frequency? We create audience coverage with reach but frequency drives messaging retention, resulting in prescriptions written or products recommended. So as a media expert for more than 30 years, I recommend frequency. Target locally and test this theory in two to three major demographic market areas, and you will have the right data to apply nationally with print and digital.