YouTube updates spur pharma fears

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YouTube updates spur pharma fears
YouTube updates spur pharma fears

Google's latest YouTube update aims to make its Channels more social, and even as the company has given its pharma clients an extra month to keep their old page designs, the new format is inspiring anxiety.

The YouTube One Channel format has a more mobile-friendly and flexible template. Pharmas must switch to the new format by June 19; other Channel clients must switch by May 15.

Google told MM&M that channel owners would still be able to turn off comments, and their content, while shareable, could be set to play only on YouTube—not, say, in someone's Facebook feed, where companies could not necessarily monitor or respond to comments, but might still be held to adverse events reporting requirements.

When Facebook mandated that users allow comments, many pharmas pulled their product pages. This YouTube move looks less alarming, though the leeway Google has carved out doesn't address the platform's look and feel, said Digital Health Coalition co-founder Mark Bard, who notes that brand and digital teams spent months getting the go-ahead from their medical, legal and regulatory departments on the existing format, and can expect to repeat that process.

Bard notes that pharmas may  have less leverage with digital media companies than consumer packaged goods firms do. “They spend little to nothing on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube today,” he said. “Why would those platforms go out of their way to keep pharma happy? If a company is spending millions on YouTube with a custom channel and media spend, then I think Google has a responsibility to them. For the rest of the market, I think they'll tend to learn about changes like the rest of the population—by reading an article or press release.”
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