iVillage, QualityHealth deal connects media with marketing

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Marketing firm QualityHeath says a partnership with website iVillage will potentially expose more women to its pharma-sponsored content while giving clients better control over DTC media spend.

The deal adds scale—in the form of iVillage's audience of more than 30 million unique visitors per month, according to comScore—to QualityHealth's marketing platform, which serves up health tools, discounts and other content on behalf of pharmaceutical brands to the roughly 22 million patients who have opted into its database, and millions more on the Web.

The deal is “a way for us to access health-minded women and start to engage them and interest them in relevant health programs,” QualityHealth CEO Rob Rebak told MM&M.

As part of the agreement, QualityHealth's content-based tools and resources will be placed throughout the iVillage site. When consumers interact with those elements, they get linked back to the QualityHealth site where they may be introduced to product-related messaging, if relevant and if the consumer grants permission, Rebak said, adding that his firm deals with about 75% of the major drug companies.

Pharma is also a “sizable percentage” of iVillage's business, said Jodi Kahn, EVP of the female-oriented website. “We get to be closer to the pharmaceutical marketing community through QualityHealth.”

She added, “We have a treasure trove of insights on our consumers and what their needs are... They want access to advice, expertise anything that can make their lives easier.” The median age of iVillage users is 38, 75% have children, and household income is nearly $80,000.

Once users migrate from iVillage.com over to QualityHealth's system to interact with its marketing programs, sponsors pay on a performance-based model, that is, only for the individual marketing actions they are looking to drive, such as a doctor conversation about a brand. IVillage will get a portion of revenue from users who originated on its site. Beyond content sharing, product co-development and revenue sharing on display ads (iVillage agreed to rep ad sales on QualityHealth.com as part of the deal), no money changed hands on either side.

Both parties say the agreement may help pharma gain better qualified marketing leads. There's often a “fairly large disconnect,” Rebak said, between media, be it print or online, and marketing programs. “Where DTC...is suffering a lot is, the people that are being driven into the [doctor's] office are not the right targets...and they are not prepped and educated enough when driven into the office.”

For instance, Rebak said, one of his pharmaceutical clients had found that, of all the doctor visits prompted by one of its DTC ads, 30% of the time the doctor granted a prescription for its drug. The client initially concluded that its low grant rate was due to a healthcare provider marketing problem. As it dug into the data more, the client realized it had a substantial DTC problem in not prepping the right patients in the right way. “The wrong patients with the wrong message were coming in to ask questions about the drug, and doctors were doing their job in not giving patients the drug,” Rebak said.

He said his system addresses that problem “in a way that's very efficient financially for pharma marketers and reduces a lot of the risk associated with traditional DTC."
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