Mix 'n' max media

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It's August. Which means the dog days of the media budget-planning season are upon us again. 

To mark the occasion, we invited eight longtime healthcare agency media directors to our offices to learn more about their roles, the challenges they face, their take on the future of healthcare media—and, yes, listen to the odd gripe or two about the way things get done. These folks sit right at the point where the media channels meet, and yet, very rarely do they get a platform to air their views. They certainly didn't waste this opportunity (pages 66-73). 

Is this finally going to be the year that the industry sheds its interactive stigma and allocates significantly more funds to digital?

“Unfortunately, we get into a situation that if ROI can't be demonstrated, there is hesitation to take that leap,” says Amy Levinson, SVP, planning and analytics, at KPR. “Often, fear and hesitation will drive this challenge—those willing to take that chance will gain the knowledge and experience to play within this rapidly evolving space.” 

Do we have any volunteers?
In Changing Channels (pages 74-79), Deborah Dick-Rath, former DTC diva at Novartis, now head of the healthcare practice at marketing measurement firm Factor TG, offers a different take on the big interactive question, this time from the perspective of the marketer. “More patients are seeking healthcare information and have the means to find it,” she says. “But because of the fragmentation in the media marketplace, it is becoming harder for marketers to find these empowered consumers. And while marketers may feel increasingly dependent on the expertise of their agency partners, they are perhaps less confident in the media mix choices that their agencies recommend.”

Dick-Rath goes on to suggest a series of steps for developing an effective media plan that incorporates emerging channels, such as social media, blogs and mobile networks. Of course, much of her advice (although not all of it) is directed at the consumer marketer. But things can be a little more difficult back in the world of healthcare professionals. 

“How do you measure cost per thousand when you're targeting vascular thoracic surgeons and there are 50 of them?” asks Perry Kolber, SVP, director of media services LyonHeart. “And then you're being asked why the CPM is so high… They're not really asking us what the ROI should be measured on in general terms.”

Maybe next year will be the year.

Judgment Day
Having 40-plus of the finest minds in healthcare marketing show up in the same room at the same time, sleeves rolled up, ready to take on the almighty task of reviewing and scoring more than 800 submissions of the industry's best work is no easy task.

But I'm pleased to report that the MM&M Awards 2008 judging day was a huge success. Once again, the standard of the panel—and the submitted work—was extremely high. And the dedication and enthusiasm of the judges was first-rate. In other words, your entries were in fine hands. 

By the time you read this, the finalists will already have been announced via MM&M News Brief and on our website. But, of course, the 24 outright winners won't be unveiled until the awards presentation dinner on October 30. 

Better mark your calendars…
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