While most of the events at last week’s Social Media Week were about using social media to engage consumers, for drug companies and medical agencies, Social Media Week was more about accessibility than interaction, as pharma seeks to meet potential patients where they’re surfing and serve up only the most pertinent information.

To that end, Pfizer has been grinding out mobile-optimized sites—ten of them between January and April 2012. At a Mobile Healthcare Communications summit in New York on February 14, Pfizer’s Todd Kolm, director of primary care marketing, said the strategy was not about backing into the mobile realm. Kolm told MM&M that the company started with the most complex site on the list—Celebrex—and ironed out all of the potential hurdles at the outset, ensuring that subsequent efforts, including Premarin, Prempro, Detrol LA and Lyrica, among others, rolled out with relative ease.

Pfizer didn’t start its mobile launch based on sales. For example, Celebrex saw $750 million in worldwide sales last year, while the Premarin family of products had $276 million and Detrol LA had $185 million. In contrast, fibromyalgia/diabetic nerve pain drug  Lyrica, the last of the 10 mobile sites to launch, brought in $1.1 billion last year.

Consumer demand—not dollars—was among the two key drivers of Pfizer’s small-screen push.

“In late 2011 we saw just through looking at the data on our brand website or desktop site that there had been phenomenal growth within the traffic to those sites from mobile devices,” said Kolm, noting that mobile was becoming such an important touchpoint that it had essentially doubled. Yet the site experience remained subpar because desktop sites were being crammed into handhelds.

Kolm said the second critical piece was executive buy-in and a cross-marketing approach that focused on the larger regulatory needs of the brand portfolio instead of focusing on individual assets. Kolm, who chairs the emerging-channel working group said they came up with what could best be described as a “container” that regulatory would vet before content was flowed in, so that a basic template for the company’s mobile sites was established. This would then free reviews to focus on how brands are represented in this space and to negotiate those extras that each brand needs for its individual presence—as opposed to having to approach each submission as a blank slate.

The “container” was partly based on consumer data—Kolm said his team mapped key mobile consumer interests to define the foundation of every project. The data clarified the patient perspective of what they need and when they need it (the need/solution relationship was a theme throughout Social Media Week). As examples, Kolm said the sites needed to meet the context of a patient who might be “in transit somewhere and suddenly had a symptom and pulled out a mobile phone . . . How do we represent that symptom?” At the same time, sites must be of use to patients digging into a doctor recommendation in the waiting room.

Kolm said that although consumers may use both the desktop and mobile sites, a key difference is that mobile users “are in lean-forward mode, action-oriented,” meaning they have a single need and they need the answer immediately. This, in turn, is how the company assesses ROI. Kolm said “the question is, how are we removing barriers?” and the focus is “how effectively and efficiently are we answering their questions?”

Last year’s frenzy of mobile site launches doesn’t necessarily mean everything has changed. The company said that mobile-optimized sites are going to be considered on a case-by-case basis, rather than as a fundamental element of a branded presence.