Communications Media, Inc. founder Stan Woodland probably knows professional media buying and planning better than anyone, and he remains bullish on medical journal advertising.
“Our clients recognize that in addition to what they're doing on the DTC side, there's still a fundamental need to create preference over competitors with the health professional, because they're the ultimate decision maker,” says Woodland.
While DTC may account for some of the slide in spending on advertising in journals targeting primary care doctors, Woodland says he also sees companies becoming much more targeted in their spending on professional media. Publishers, he says, need to keep fine-tuning their offerings and hammering home the value of journal advertising. “If I could get the same return from my mutual fund that ACNielsen HCI has proved [from journals], I could retire early,” says Woodland.
Actually, he could probably retire early as it is. Woodland has built a mini-empire from his media expertise in the three decades since he joined MediaChek (now part of PERQ/HCI) as a young accounting student. There, his work with founder Mark Dresden researching the media consumption habits of healthcare professionals caught the attention of client SmithKline Beecham (SKB), which brought him in-house to put together its first media department.
At a time when the industry was just beginning to shift away from a compensation structure which awarded agencies a commission on media spend, SKB was ahead of the pack. The company took a holistic approach to media planning, lumping detailing in with other forms of promotion and establishing a customer targeting department in Woodland's remit.
“This was very unique, and there was a need for this kind of integrated planning,” says Woodland.
That need prompted Woodland to launch CMI—the name of his department at SKB with an “Inc.” tacked on —in 1988, with his SKB colleagues as his foundational client. He soon won business from Searle, for which CMI handled planning and buying on the launch of Ambien, and Forest Laboratories, for the launch of Tiazac. But Woodland found that the demands of buying were eating up most of his time.
“I was keeping very meticulous records of my time, because that was how I was billing, and I discovered that two-thirds of my time was spent on the buying part. I got the idea that if I could separate planning and buying, I'd have much more time to devote to strategy on the planning side and create efficiencies on the buying side.”
He launched Compas in 1991 to handle media buying, offering guaranteed contracts in exchange for complete rate-card and volume-based pricing. “It created a lot of controversy, but ultimately the business model worked because we were able to guarantee a rate,” Woodland says.
Today, Compas has 63 employees, CMI 55. The firms' chief competitors are medical agencies, which handle buying and planning for some clients, though eight agencies now outsource one or both functions to CMI and Compas.
Answering demand for ever-finer targeting, the company's newest product, BuyDoctor, offers the promise of media planning and purchase at the level of the individual physician through a database incorporating the circulation files of over 120 medical journals.
“So if a brand is targeting 35,000 physicians across multiple specialties, you might match vehicles that go to 150,000 circulation and ID that overlap,” he says.
Woodland and his wife live in Southern New Jersey, where they raised a daughter, age 31, and two sons, 25 and 23. When he's not managing his media business, Woodland likes to hit the links. As in planning and buying, he's no amateur, having won three club championships last year.
Director of media and customer targeting systems, SmithKline Beecham
Mgr. of media research and sales services, HCI