Optimizing consumer print spending

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Pharmas are spending more on print ads and less on TV as they seek to get right with PhRMA's DTC guidelines and present more exhaustive risk information. How can media planners better allocate their spending on print ads?

Rich Gagnon
Chief media officer

Print provides a platform to connect with individuals at critical moments in the decision-making process while enabling DTC marketers to present a balanced benefit and risk story. Some key strategies to help guide media investment: First, think beyond the page. There are alternatives to communicate a brand's message. Advertorials and impact units, such as gatefolds and  inserts, offer a potentially more powerful way to communicate and educate. Second, think beyond the publication. Publishing companies offer an array of resources: content, Web sites, events, database, research, partnerships and 1-2-1 marketing platforms. Assess their value up front. Third, understand the credibility factor. Magazine “brands” represent a source of trust with their readers. You can benefit by aligning with trusted features, writers and editorial. Finally, validate and prove that print marketing works.

Joel Redmount
Group media director

Media planners in the DTC world have two communications goals in mind as they formulate plans. First, they must educate and inform so that patients can make intelligent decisions. Second, they must be engaging and persuasive to ensure their client's messaging is impactful and that it accomplishes the primary challenge of encouraging patients to have an informed conversation with their doctor and, ideally, discuss the product by name. All media can accomplish both (to varying degrees), so it is never as easy as Print = Goal #1 while TV = Goal #2.  Planners can better allocate spending by thoroughly understanding the interplay among three points of reference: 1) the consumers they need to educate and engage, 2) the media that enable and enhance that communication and 3) the business needs of the client or brand.

Deborah Dick-Rath
Exec. director, consumer COE
Novartis Pharmaceuticals

DTC advertisers have increased their use of magazines this year by 29%. We attribute the increase to the fact that some new brands may require more time for patient education than a 60-second spot allows and that there is more unbranded/disease state advertising than last year (+42%). Magazine spending has emerged as a key channel for unbranded/disease state DTC, reflecting a jump of 134% vs. 2005. The array of specialization in magazines—think disease-specific titles like Arthritis Today—enables more effecient targeting. Many DTC advertisers are realizing the advantages of fully integrated campaigns that allow brands to establish awareness through mass media while providing platforms for real, ongoing patient engagement. All are working to adapt to the media marketplace by developing strategies that integrate messages across all channels.

Liz O'Neil
VP, media director

It is a debatable point that there has been a huge shift in spending allocation. That being said, the bigger issue is how can media planners positively influence the dialogue around risk and benefit of treatment? Planners will be in the forefront of finding new and better ways to connect with consumers through channels that not only have more real estate but have credibility. Consumer intelligence is going to drive the insights of the plans that will facilitate the dialog. Print does have credibility and real estate but there are other mediums that can deepen the dialogue. Print is a push mentality and the changing face of media is based on pull. Planners have their work cut out for them in this evolving media landscape and a more empowered consumer.

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