Seeking to track the unmeasurable

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Professional media planners and buyers are increasingly called upon to provide solid ROI in a space where quantifiable metrics are difficult to obtain.  What are some of the ways to justify placements across a disparate media environment?

Matt McNally,
SVP, Media Services,
Digitas Health
It is critical to understand how a patient or caregiver is traversing media for a specific disease state or brand. We work with clients to define success metrics at the program level during the planning process. Not all programs can be directly tied to Rx. However, each touch with the consumer should provide engagement metrics that help move the patient across the disease state continuum. Many of the highly targeted search programs we deploy for patients that are ready for a treatment option can be tracked through to script level data. We are able to illustrate to clients the impact of paid and organic search expenditures on Rx. We also work to create multi-channel programs that engage consumers who are searching for disease state information, but may not be ready for a branded discussion. We're looking at the value of distribution and engagement as a new media metric in health. 

Amanda Joly,
VP, Communications Planner, 
inVentiv Communications 
While it can be difficult to prove ROI with many professional media channels, there are ways in which we can use other quantitative metrics to prove value and return associated with these channels.  For example, we are recommending online programs as part of our professional media plans. Online offers many quantifiable measurement tools, including cost-per-action, clicks, and conversion rates. We can measure engagement which is highly important given the fact that most often we are trying to engage physicians on a level beyond awareness.  Engagement measures include time spent on a website, click-through-rate, and number of unique page views. As the online channel continues to grow, we must work to stay ahead of the curve and uncover opportunities as well as develop new tools to address the challenge.

Robert Enos,
Media director,
A successful measure has different meaning for people. Before metrics are set, ROI needs to be defined as it is applies to the media investment in question. Further, the role of media relative to the overall advertising strategy needs to be put into perspective. For example, increasing message awareness would require a different level of scrutiny than achieving a certain product market share. Custom studies may be attached to an investment, especially if the media is new or untested. These can measure anything from general awareness to message retention and product recall to change in audience behavior using test/control group methodologies. Accounting for changes in the market and gaining input from the client's market research personnel may improve the reception of the ROI study, and remove bias particularly if it is sponsored by the organization selling the program. 

Rebecca Frederick,
General Manager,
We would love a predictive modeling tool that generated an optimal media mix for the greatest ROI, as in consumer media.  Unfortunately, prescribing activity is not as predictable and unique definitions of ROI must be established for each media mix element.We encourage online suppliers to offer “pay for performance” pricing, a model that guarantees HCP engagement at a set price.  Major digital suppliers have also conducted ROI studies of their vehicles to show impact on NRx's.  ROI metrics for journal ads are less well-defined.  We rely on industry norms established through recent major studies and recommend post-testing of campaigns to ensure ads are communicating effectively.  Positive ROI is impossible if an ad is performing poorly. 
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