Many of the large health networks offer customized advertising capabilities, such as branded “patient rooms” and exclusive video inventory.  Is there value in these kinds of offerings?

Lee Slovitt,
Senior media director,
Heartbeat Digital

There can be great value in such opportunities—however the offering must fit the brand strategy and budget.  Typically these programs are expensive; they tend to include production and traffic driving.  For a brand that can overcome the cost hurdle, and manage the program effectively, the positives are numerous. First, you are able to leverage the publisher’s credibility. Some patients and caregivers won’t visit brand sites: thus these
opportunities are perfect for engaging those skeptical non-clickers. Second, these programs usually include guaranteed content views. Not only can you get an idea of success prior to campaign launch, but usually this traffic is pre-qualified. Distributing brand assets via multiple channels becomes important in today’s fragmented digital marketplace.  

Bob Girondi,
EVP, marketing and research,
Communications Media Inc.

Categorically, any promotion bearing a believable and relevant message to a particular audience, properly timed, properly delivered and properly funded—as part of an integrated program—should produce the desired results. Whatever the medium, the team working with the targeted patients must be fully aware of, and in agreement with, the content, tone and quality of the message, including whatever level of brand promotion may appear.  Of particular concern these days is the need for these materials to comply with current PhRMA, FDA and other regulations. Properly executed patient-focused communications in the office setting can be of great service to patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals.  

Dori Stowe,
EVP, director of digital strategy,

The answer is an overwhelming YES for better patient outcomes and increased brand engagement. Today, consumers go online to get information and to see what others have to say about everything—especially healthcare. In fact, according to the Pew Internet Life Project, 2009, 61% of all adults look for health information online, and 41% of ePatients have read someone else’s commentary or experience about health or medical issues. A must for companies—when engaging your brand online—is that context is key to success. As social media continues to grow a new ROI—return on involvement is crucial. Establishing measurements against reach, relevance, authority, engagement, interaction and sentiment will extend your brand and provide a competitive advantage.

Elyse Rettig  
Associate media director,

I definitely think there is value for pharmas to find ways to expand their reach through these offerings. The health advertising networks give marketers a way to aggregate this inventory rather than spending time buying it piece by piece. The goal for these opportunities should always be to create pieces that are unique to the space, such as long-form video with clickable content. Advertisers have to make sure that their message makes sense within the context it is presented. Brands should think about their role with user-generated content associated with these offerings. Social media is not going away. We need to work together to figure out how to embrace it rather than avoid it.