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Digital Musings for Pharma: Creating Content for Distracted Use

February 4, 2015 by Ritesh Patel
A recent survey by Nielsen found that up to 70% of Americans now own a mobile device and that most of those mobile devices are smartphones. Healthcare marketers should take note because behavioral trends like these suggest new ways for us to interact with consumers, and share timely and relevant information with them. The Nielsen study illustrates a tipping point in the U.S. as well as underscoring an enormous opportunity for the healthcare industry to reach consumers in targeted and meaningful ways. The technology is advanced and ubiquitous, and it allows us to engage in places and at points we could never have imagined only a few years ago.

But the pharmaceutical industry lags behind. Few pharma marketers focus on the mobile environment beyond a couple of apps or the e-detail for sales representatives or HCPs, despite the fact that mobile devices are the primary means of communication for most people on this planet. To get the most benefit from the new multiscreen environment, marketers need to carefully consider their audiences and how they interact with all their devices. I call it “creating content for distracted use” because in this multiscreen environment, the common experience is one of distraction.

Consumers use smartphones while they watch TV, or check email and access the Internet on a tablet while they wait for an appointment or for a train. It is critical to ensure consistency of brand and message along these distraction points. Your brand and content should be consistent and relevant on all of these platforms. In fact, I would suggest these are the two most important factors to consider when you are thinking about engaging consumers. Studies are available to help marketers understand the rate and frequency of individuals’ interactions with their mobile devices at different times of the day. They follow a familiar cycle of content consumption. We all wake up in the morning and reach for our phones. We check email, social media and news sites. At work we interact primarily with desktops, laptops and tablets, and then we revert to smartphones and tablets in the evening. Multiscreen and distracted use are the norm in today’s marketing world.

Knowing when consumers are using specific devices allows us to more accurately render our brand or content in a way that is most relevant to the audience. For example, you could air a TV commercial during prime time to raise awareness about a drug and provide information on a responsive website that can be viewed on a cell phone, or run a banner ad with a similar video and a call-to-action with a coupon for tablets. In this way, the consumer viewing the TV ad can continue to consume information on a nearby mobile device and engage with a brand a second time for reinforcement.

Consumers can visit a website on a desktop computer at home before heading to work, continue looking at content on their smartphone or tablet during the day, and resume use of the desktop when they return home in the evening. The content and brand experience should be familiar and consistent across platforms. It should be seamless from one screen to another. We typically see bounce rates (people leaving a site after opening the home page) of about 80% on websites that are not responsive or enabled for mobile devices.

The primary aim of creating multiscreen campaigns is having the ability to create truly engaging content for various mobile devices. With the advent of advertising units in the HTML5 format, brands can create relevant and compliant content, using video and imagery that is immersive, educational and engaging. For DTC, this new format will provide more opportunities to engage a consumer in an increasingly mobile world.

Developing cross-screen advertising is not as simple as just adding a few mobile placements to your ad buy. Multiple operating systems, device sizes and new protocols are emerging, and marketers may need help navigating the path to multiscreen success. Fortunately, a number of technology vendors have developed the capability to create branded pharma ad units for the mobile platform. However, employing sophisticated tactics to attract mobile users reaps big rewards for the DTC marketing and media budget. We have seen click-through rates of up to 20% for some ad units on mobile devices. Compare that with the measly 0.003% on the web alone.

Multiscreen marketing can make a huge impact on the pharmaceutical industry if it is done right. Every mobile platform has its own set of rules, but all can be part of an effective marketing initiative. When you define the goals of a campaign, you also should determine how every available digital platform plays a role and fits into the bigger strategic picture. As you look at marketing in the multiscreen environment, think about consistency of brand, content and message, design for distracted use, and above all think holistically about a coordinated campaign. The days of siloed media are over. Ubiquitous mobile media is the path to engagement for your brand.

Ritesh Patel