Healthcare marketing is evolving more rapidly than ever before — and not surprisingly, the demand for smarter media campaign measurement is increasing as a result.

For example, Crossix Solutions recently worked closely with a top 10 pharmaceutical client tasked with growing market share for a launch brand in a highly competitive category. As is the typical ratio in DTC marketing, the client allocated 80% of its media budget to TV and the remaining 20% primarily to digital, print, and point-of-care efforts.

We analyzed the conversion impact of this multichannel campaign by measuring incremental new patient starts among the exposed audience for each channel combination against matched control groups. Through our analyses, a handful of fascinating insights emerged. While exposure to TV alone failed to generate a break-even ROI, exposure to both TV and digital yielded a substantially positive ROI, seven times higher than that observed for TV alone.

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Moreover, the client discovered that by doubling its digital budget and reducing its TV budget accordingly, it could have increased overall DTC ROI by more than 25%, which translates to millions of dollars in incremental revenue. In addition to this key revelation, the client learned that additional optimizations within each channel could increase the ROI even further.


When I supported pharmaceutical brand teams ten years ago, consumer advertising campaigns were measured “by association,” using marketing mix models, direct response metrics, or brand awareness surveys. These measurement solutions still have their place, yet they are no longer sufficient in healthcare’s new era, where maximizing marketing efficiency is paramount. Brand marketers must be increasingly precise and cost-effective with their media investments. They must demonstrate that their campaigns reach the right consumer audiences and generate meaningful incremental patient behaviors. Indeed, healthcare marketers seek results like their peers in automotive, entertainment, or consumer packaged goods: By linking advertising directly to sales.

DTC marketing is becoming more complex. Campaigns are multi-channel, spanning combinations of television, online display and video, search, mobile, print, and point of care, each coordinated to maximize brand visibility and accelerate patient treatment. Marketers increasingly target audiences based on therapeutic category.

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A drugmaker trying to switch diabetes patients to a particular medication, for instance, can select marketing programs and media channels that reach diabetics with propensity for near-term switching. Indeed, measurement objectives are multi-faceted, with insights required along the diagnostic and treatment continuum: How many patients are visiting their doctors, being diagnosed for certain conditions, being treated in relevant categories, and taking or switching between specific drugs.

Measurement needs to arrive rapidly while the media is live, to allow for timely optimization. Knowing how a campaign performed one month after it ends is too late. It is far better to track results mid-stream (with agreement between advertisers and agencies) so that investments can be shifted to higher-performing vehicles to optimize the remainder of the campaign. Most importantly, measurement must always preserve patient privacy through HIPAA compliance.


Many measurement approaches exist in the marketplace, and it’s not always easy to differentiate and discern their advantages. In some cases, lingering mythology about measurement has been misinterpreted as reality. Thus it’s worth clarifying these misconceptions.

One myth is the greater the patient data volume, the better. In reality, volume is not what matters. Rather, data quality, matching rates, and completeness are what enables accurate measurement. Another myth is that all measurement must occur at the individual level, when in fact household-level measurement is crucial for pediatric categories or degenerative central nervous system treatments, because the caregiver exposed to ads has a household-level connection to the patient.

The notion that click-through rates and website interactions sufficiently measure the effectiveness of digital campaigns is another misconception. Actually, fewer than 0.1% of consumers exposed to digital advertising click through to a website on average, and this low response rate does not represent the overall exposed population. Superior measurement is applied to the overall audience exposed to a campaign and utilizes more predictive leading indicators of brand sales — like audience treatment history and doctor visitation.

Finally, the myth of needing to wait until a campaign ends must give way to frequent, mid-stream measurement (assuming sufficient reach and sample sizes). The ability to measure earlier in a campaign’s lifecycle is further enhanced by measurement across more granular dimensions, such as specific digital publishers, creative versions or ad placements, enabling ongoing optimization that drives ROI.

Ira Haimowitz is VP of product strategy at Crossix Solutions.