Drug e-marketers must shake their fear of blogs

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Pharmaceutical e-marketers shouldn't let fear stand in the way of using blogs and other user-generated content forums as a way to boost their ROI, according to industry experts.

“Advertising on user-generated content communities is one way (to help a brand),” said Doug Levy, president of IMC2. 

Levy's comments came during a panel debate on consumer-generated content during The Center for Business Intelligence's eMarketing for the Pharmaceutical Industry Conference in Philadelphia in early March. 

“There are good reasons from a medical regulations perspective not to participate, but ... if you advertise on a user-generated content community, it doesn't mean you are responsible for that content. This is akin to print advertising. As more of the user-generated community are doing this as a full-time job, more and more are looking for sponsors,” Levy added. 

Yahoo! senior product manager Mike Grishaver explained: “There are two types of bloggers. Those who want to inform their friends and family and there are those who are turning professional and want to get paid, whether it's through sponsorship or through receiving money through Yahoo!'s publisher network or Google.” 

So why are pharma marketers taking so long to adopt techniques that have met with success in other sectors? 

“I think it is that we are so regulated, we are afraid of taking new steps,” said Jean-Paul Hepp, Pfizer's privacy director. “We are very conservative because of FDA, FTC and attorney generals. It's scary, but it makes sense that we are slow.”

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