Outdoor and place-based advertising are increasingly employed to market prescription drugs. When and how should marketers use out-of-home advertising to promote Rx brands, and what kind of ROI should they expect?

Sharon Hatch
VP/director, out-of-home media
Horizon Media

Rx spending for out-of-home (OOH) has steadily increased as marketers search for alternatives to drive point-of-purchase and increase ROI. Outdoor and point-of-purchase can be used similarly to traditional media. Usage is driven primarily by a campaign’s overall communications objectives and strategies and the brand stage. Point-of-purchase is most effective for Rx brands competing against established drugs. Its ability to support other messages already delivered to consumers when they fulfill prescriptions can aid in awareness and prompt dialogue with docs. There is an opportunity to extend branding initiatives in-venue. For Rx brands with broader market appeal, traditional vehicles may be considered. Since OOH and point-of- purchase vehicles are used predominantly to build awareness, the ability to tie ads back to sales continues to be a challenge.

David Adelman
OCD Media

Media planners should challenge you to consider all media that get the right message to the right target, location and timing.  The obvious use for outdoor is when patients are highly concentrated in predictable geographies, and redundant exposures are important to prompt action or compliance. Allergy brands can use outdoor to follow the season by market, enabling exposures when people are suffering the most—while they’re outdoors. Other place-based media allow unique message delivery. You can better predict what someone is doing or where they are when they see the message so you have a better understanding of their mindset. Determining ROI for OOH is difficult but it can significantly enhance visibility for other elements in the advertising program that are responsible for generating leads and doctor intervention.

Marcia Selig
VP, group media director,
Cramer-Krasselt for Takeda 

When we developed the strategy to launch the sleep drug Rozerem, our use of out-of-home media was intended to reach consumers when they are feeling the effects of not getting a good night’s sleep. We focused on commuters in major metropolitan areas because they tend to be sleep-deprived, stressed-out and most receptive to the message, “Your Dreams Miss You.” Our tactics included station domination in high-traffic train stations, bus shelters in business districts and billboards along the country’s most congested expressways. We also advertised on coffee sleeves and airline tray tables. The creative features the Web address, which directs consumers to the brand’s site. While it is difficult to quantify results for a given medium, we believe that the out-of-home accomplished our objectives of generating interest in the brand and drove a marked increase in traffic to the Web site.

Deborah Katz
Product manager, hepatology

Outdoor advertising has been a critical part of the success of the Roche “Bruises” hepatitis C campaign. It was used to complement other channels to help generate awareness about this serious disease. Due to the nature of hepatitis C, patients sometimes delay a necessary discussion about treatment options with a liver specialist. Outdoor was used because it gave us another avenue to reach out to patients, communicating our message to them in a way that was relevant to their daily lives—such as while they were commuting and in their neighborhoods. Markets that afforded a variety of outdoor options were chosen for the campaign. Outdoor, in combination with print, has played a key role in our success, enabling us to reach the target audience beyond the traditional media.