-Mike Bregman, chief activation officer, Havas Media Group

-Tracey O’Brien, chief client officer, Publicis Health
-Claudine Patel, CMO, Sanofi Consumer Healthcare
-Egbavwe Pela, group SVP, CMI Media Group
-Ted Sweetser, VP, advertising, PurpleLab

-Steve Madden, editor-in-chief, MM+M (moderator)

Pharma brand managers have access to so much data that it can inundate their decision-making processes.

The business world has been obsessed with increasing the amount of data that can be captured across the spectrum. This trend was led first by the financial industry, where stories abound of smart firms leveraging satellite imagery of factory parking lots to forecast productivity. Robert Mercer of Renaissance Technologies captured the attitude decades in advance when he coined the phrase “There’s no data like more data.”

During “The Brand/Data Nexus” session at Cannes, sponsored by PurpleLab, panelists outlined the best ways of streamlining the volume of information and separating the proverbial wheat from the chaff.

“At the foundational level, data helps you get smarter,” asserted Havas Media Group’s Mike Bregman. “In our world today, there’s an abundance of it, so you have to find a way to sift through it.”

He added that data should be used to drive insights, unlock new opportunities, optimize targeting and provide information on consumer intent signals, motivations and lifestyles.

Bregman further emphasized the need for different types of information being relevant across different elements of the campaign, from planning to investment to measurement. And it should ultimately provide a feedback loop to help optimize your efforts.  

All data is good data, according to Egbavwe Pela of CMI Media Group. He believes that even measuring impressions, a metric that has recently been questioned, can be useful in certain situations.

“Impressions are a good indicator as we’re looking to target a black or Hispanic audience, for example,” explained Pela.

PurpleLab’s Ted Sweetser noted that data can be used to develop messaging that is relevant to different potential groups and reach them where they are. That’s particularly important when trying to reach patients with individual disease states.

Data can help marketers provide information to physicians that is most relevant to them.

“If the challenges for their patients to access care is a cost issue, we can make it easier for them to access the things they need,” he pointed out.

“Realizing some of these HR tools to help determine diagnosis is extremely critical to micro-targeting in the pharma space,” added Pela. “Reaching that right patient at that right time is extremely impactful.”

MM+M editor-in-chief Steve Madden (3rd from left) led a conversation in which all panelists shared thoughts on how AI can help brands better address consumer concerns.
MM+M editor-in-chief Steve Madden (3rd from left) led a conversation in which all panelists shared thoughts on how AI can help brands better address patient concerns.

The opportunity of AI

Once data is used to find the right patients, brands are using it to determine those patients’ concerns.

“There’s immense opportunity to use AI to be more efficient,” suggested Publicis Health’s Tracey O’Brien, “but we still have to be thoughtful about that empathy piece.” She said her team uses data insights to be respectful of nuances and provide more meaningful messaging.

“AI does enable us to see patients as people in a way that we may not have been able to before,” O’Brien continued. “It’s enabling us to get a deeper understanding of what really matters to patients and what’s going to make a difference for them at the time they need help the most. That’s the blend of art and science coming together.”

“With so much richness of data in the marketplace, we can’t forget that data is complementary,” said Claudine Patel of Sanofi Consumer Healthcare. “In marketing, sometimes you have to go with your gut. Not everything is mathematical or statistical.”

“When you combine the data with human instinct and intuition, exciting, magical work can happen,” added O’Brien.

She got the audience’s attention by noting that 95% of hospital data is not yet being used. With access to even more data on the horizon, panelists speculated about the idea of too much data.

“Sometimes you get a needle in a haystack and find something interesting, a small consumer group or micro-segment,” shared Bregman. “As you start scaling things up and building models, the data might be so thin that it might not be as accurate as you originally thought.”

O’Brien noted that her team of data scientists offers limitless opportunities for model building, but not all that information is useful. She often weighs in to “give it more focus.”

Pela urged marketers to remain solution-oriented when using data.

“You need to stay focused on what specific question you’re looking to answer and how it’s going to be tracked on the data sources,” he advised. “You also need to know who owns that data and make sure you’re capturing it accurately.”

Pela often approaches a problem by asking what data points can help answer a very specific question. “That will help us get to that solution much faster,” he noted.

Without business objectives and brand goals, “you can get lost in the data,” added Patel.

Sweetser also reported “spending a lot of time making sure that we’re bringing an integrated team together for those early conversations about the business problem at hand.”

Siloization also remains an enormous challenge in applying data analytics to business operations.

“There’s a very limited number of people who are able to actually interpret it and apply it to their business,” Sweetser concludes. “That’s frequently an obstacle. It needs to be more accessible and interpretable. For creatives in particular, there’s a wealth of different ways we should be presenting information that’s relevant to them.”