New Web 2.0 metric not the old ROI

As pharma begins incorporating Web 2.0 tools in their marketing, many are unsure how to assess them. Andy Levitt, who worked for Schering-Plough, Johnson & Johnson and Genzyme before starting his own word-of-mouth marketing company, HealthTalker (healthtalker.com), coined the term “return on involvement” (ROI) to describe a new methodology.

Brand managers can't entirely track patients' reach to other consumers about a product like they can measure more traditional Web-based advertising or e-mail campaigns. That is, the impact of a recommendation of a friend to someone in his social network remains elusive.

But studies show word-of-mouth advertising is the most trustworthy kind. And Levitt's ROI metric, which he is using in a customized program for Shire to raise consumer awareness about a specific disease state, will evolve over time as firms track consumers' reach to others. The key is to embrace the new tactics now, despite the unknowns.

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