Editor's Desk: Whither the fast followers?

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Careful readers of this magazine are familiar with pharma's fits and starts in messaging via the small screen (i.e., mobile). Manhattan Research's data on the number of the industry's mobile-optimized sites for consumers and physicians have indicated there's much room for improvement.

But a large part of the 75% or so non-responsive-designed sites are likely to be legacy ones for mature products, an analyst tells us. You'd be hard-pressed to see a brand put up a non-mobile site for a new product these days.

That's good, because these distinctions matter more than ever, as this month's cover story shows. Consider the example of the Nightscout Project, whose army of engineers (many the parent of a diabetic child) spawned an open-source system that beams readings from continuous-glucose monitors into the cloud for remote viewing by understandably concerned caregivers. 

What does this anecdote have to do with pharma's progress in mobile marketing?

“I don't want to condone what the Diabetes dads did in any way, shape or form—let me make that clear,” says Will Falk, North and South America healthcare leader at PwC. “But if that's not a clear indicator of consumer demand, I don't know what is. These guys said, basically, ‘My child's glucose is important to me. I'm going to have it on my phone, regardless of whether or not you give it to me.' ”

The response—not much more than the manufacturer's acknowledgment, as of press time—is telling.

We know that pharma doesn't rush into new marketing or technology initiatives without seeking to mitigate risk—there's truth to the phrase “fast following.” But the Diabetes Dads bring it into sharp focus.

Maybe, says John McCarthy, VP of global commercial excellence at AstraZeneca, this is “an inflection point,” in that mobile is no longer just to be viewed as mobile marketing.

With this in mind, even pundits declaring this The Year of Mobile take on new legitimacy. Novartis's January 2015 partnership with Qualcomm is one indication. Will DIY and the broader mHealth movement be the catalysts that drive ever-more-fearless “mobification” by pharma?

Put your best work forward

Here at MM&M we are also looking to innovate our offerings, including the MM&M Awards. To be sure they better reflect trends within the industry and remain the gold standard in healthcare marketing, communications and media, we've once again put a lot of effort into expanding and enhancing the program. We added two new categories—Best Product Launch, which allows agencies and companies to enter campaigns promoting a brand or medical initiative launched in the past 16 months, and the MM&M Titanium Award for Best in Show, somewhat of a wild card category that's chosen by judges based on the top five scores of the entire program.

This follows last year's addition of 11 new categories. But that's not all. After last year's sell-out MM&M Awards dinner, we've also moved the venue for the October 1 ceremony to Cipriani Wall Street in order to better accommodate the crowd.

With the 2015 MM&M Awards now officially open for submissions, there's no better time to showcase your work—and the talented people behind it. An equally gifted judging panel of some 100 esteemed industry professionals will see that the most deserving entries triumph.

You have until April 24 to enter. You'll find everything you need at awards.mmm-online.com. Good luck!

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