Valeant leverages Rx sales force, YouTube for OTC brand

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Valeant leverages Rx sales force, YouTube for OTC brand
Valeant leverages Rx sales force, YouTube for OTC brand

Valeant sales reps started doing something different in August. In addition to talking to dermatologists about prescription medications, they also started dropping off samples of the drug maker's OTC medication AcneFree, which joined the company's portfolio with the 2012 purchase of University Medical.

VP of Marketing John Reed said the brand's clean lines and use of white—AcneFree hallmarks—also give the product a clinical feel. He said reps will be bringing the kits to the offices of around 3,600 dermatologists.

The company is also supporting the professional pitch with a consumer strategy that includes circulars and in-store promotions, as well as with YouTube's TrueView ad feature, which debuted in 2010. TrueView is a double-targeted advertising approach in that user habits help determine which ads will be served up, and the site offers the chance to opt out of the ads.

If the viewer skips out, the advertiser pays nothing. If they watch it to the end, the advertiser pays. Reed said the AcneFree video, which uses creative from the Ogilvy Group A. Eicoff & Co., has a 15.9% watch rate, meaning one in every six people chooses to watch the spot.

This is not the first time AcneFree has used YouTube, but it is the first time the brand has paid to advertise on it. Reed said the brand was sold on the TrueView pay-only-when-watched feature because of the pay structure and the targeting, which he said “reveals the relevance of the product itself to the viewer.” Reed also noted that viewers who watch the ad tend to click through to seek out places to buy the product.

Google's research—Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion in 2006—indicates an added benefit: better brand recall when products are advertised on both YouTube and TV. Using one or the other has about an equal impact on consumer memory, but Google's number crunchers found that recall doubled when a brand ran both a 15-second YouTube spot and regular TV commercials.

Google National Industry Director of Healthcare Ryan Olohan said the ads resonate with direct and indirect consumers—for example, a mom may opt-in to view the AcneFree commercial as well as a teen. The company's stats also indicate visitors watch 6 billion hours of videos every month. “It's not just teenagers,” Olohan said, a truth Valeant's Reed said is reflected in the AcneFree data.

Olohan told MM&M that visitors who watch the TrueView ads are “raising their hand and saying, ‘I am suffering and want help.'” The appeal of the invested consumer is clear, but the feature and potential marketing impact is part of a larger YouTube transformation from what Olohan said was a place to watch “dogs on skateboards,” to becoming a tool users are using like a lifestyle search engine that goes beyond entertainment.

His evidence: 40,000 videos that feature diabetes-friendly recipes and an unbranded atrial-fibrillation video from 2012 that has been viewed more than 3 million times. The Afib video links the website 15everyhour.com, which is supported by Boehringer Ingelheim, the National Stroke Association and the Heart Rhythm Society, among others.
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