Wunderman Health taps former Merkle exec as SVP of strategy and analytics

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Deborah Furey is tasked with leading a pilot of the agency's new personalized marketing offering.

Wunderman Health hired Deborah Furey as SVP of strategy and analytics, and in the new role for the agency she is tasked with leading a pilot of the agency's new personalized marketing offering. Recognizing the growing role of technology and the opportunity for healthcare marketers to harness data and insights, CEO Becky Chidester created the position to oversee this emerging capability.

“We can use experimentation to really help us think differently about how we talk to the market, how we become more customer-centric, and hopefully drive a little more innovation,” said Furey. “We've got some exciting experiments that we're doing around member acquisition, and we're doing multi-level tests to understand what combination of content and messaging we can use to drive acquisition and help people get their health exchanges.”

Furey most recently served as SVP of health strategy at Merkle, where she used analytics to drive marketing strategies for predominantly pharmaceutical clients. She joined the company in 2009 as VP of life sciences. Prior to Merkle, she was a managing partner of FICO's life sciences practice, where she focused on data-inspired marketing solutions.

See also: Merkle taps Mike Goldin as SVP of health

The new pilot involves several U.S. and global companies in pharmaceutical, consumer health, insurance, and medical services. Furey declined to name the specific companies the agency is working with but said that a formal launch is expected in July.

The new service offering has three key objectives: accelerating the use of data to make sure clients are engaging with their stakeholders in a personalized and meaningful way; creating dynamic content and creative that is more modular and responsive; and providing experiment-fueled change, which means reaching a person with the right message in the right way and at the right time to inspire action that Furey considers most important.

“There's been a tradition in pharma and managed care to shoot from the hip in terms of a one-size-fits-all messaging strategy,” said Furey. “What these insights are showing is that you can have very different types of conversations with different stakeholders, and you should.”

See also: ZS' Pete Mehr on embracing and adapting to change

The new personalized marketing service will also examine how best to use data to understand when healthcare professionals and consumers make decisions and when patients require intervention so that appropriate content can be delivered during those key moments.

Furey said she sees the pharmaceutical industry increasingly moving toward combining creative and content capabilities with data and analytics.

“There's a big opportunity to do that and ultimately change how we're using data and analytics to do much more experimentation, combining more quantitative use that these organizations have with a more qualitative understanding of their customers and ultimately be able to serve them with a more modern approach to content and messaging,” she said.

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