Will 2009 bring media mayhem?

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What does the New Year hold for healthcare media? How might the policies of the incoming administration and new committee chairs impact advertising spend and budget allocation?

Mary Ann Belliveau
Managing director, health vertical, 

Following a transitional 2008, 2009 will likely involve a mix of hope, change, uncertainty and worry. With that mixed mood in mind, people will continue to crave accurate, trustworthy information and healthcare companies will need to focus on authenticity in customer communications. We'll likely see seismic changes in terms of how healthcare companies relate to physicians and patients, with messaging shifting to focus on the end user that will hopefully improve patient outcomes. Finally, as we all learn to do more with less, marketers will focus intently on accountable advertising. To this end, most of our customers are working to improve their overall digital competencies globally; this extremely critical component of the channel mix is an area where internal education at every level will be key.

Steve Morris
Executive VP, 
Advanstar Life Sciences Group

The ability to consolidate operations, pair product lines to a few focused brands/therapeutic areas, and the successful leveraging of personnel and outsource resources will be the critical elements of those who can grow their franchises as media or client companies. Channel neutral delivery of content is just the first hurdle, now we have to prove our ability to integrate these channels internally and externally with other suppliers seamlessly. The new administration will act as an accelerator of all the current trends pushing us over the tipping point. Taking risks is demanded in this environment to demonstrate leadership and client commitment, as well as the willingness to be uncomfortable in alliances to serve clients' real needs.

Michael Kleha
VP, integrated media
GSW Worldwide

The impact of the economy in the New Year will make healthcare media channel choices more crucial than ever. Advertisers will have to be more focused and precise.  While this is an important consideration for the messages themselves, it is especially important for the placement of those messages. Tighter budgets mean increased scrutiny on the effectiveness of advertising. This will bring a focus on media placement, and especially accountability in the form of metrics.  As far as the incoming administrations' policies are concerned, I think we will have to all wait and see what specific areas of healthcare will be prioritized for policy reform. But in general, I envision the requirements that will be placed on both personal and non-personal Pharma communications will become more restrictive, not less so.

Bill McGee
SVP, network services

The new administration hasn't even been sworn in yet and we're already hearing of proposed policy changes and tighter regulations that will directly affect drug and device advertisers. I believe these changes will bode well for online publishers and that pharma marketers will allocate more of their budget to new media programs that can offer a better ROI. Online provides an ideal counterweight to some of the criticisms being leveled at traditional DTC  advertising: It is laser-targeted and can segment and direct consumers through education and adherence content paths; it allows ample space to provide in-depth information; it affords instant feedback; and it's measurable.

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