Remedy debuts long-form sponsored stories
If we've learned anything from the New York Times's “Snowfall” or the Guardian's “Firestorm,” it's that traffic numbers are not the end-all currency for web content. As these seminal multimedia pieces have shown, there's clearly a new emphasis for the web on engagement and time spent.
While online media may have initially been characterized by speed and agility, the medium has begun to find its long-form voice through immersive, emotional storytelling. An estimated 30 million people go online to seek stories of those with chronic illnesses, and Remedy Health, with its new Live Bold Live Now (LBLN) Immersion Series, sees an opportunity to extend that voice to patients.
“It's an empowerment initiative,” Remedy Health's chief revenue officer, Jim Curtis, said of the LBLN series, which debuted February 18. “It's an emotional connection between patients who have real expertise connecting with [others] and motivating them to stay and be healthy.”
LBLN, he added, looks to harness the inherent emotional nature of the patient journey with uniquely inspiring individuals who find ways to not only overcome illness, but also goals that could easily inspire the healthy, too.
One of the first three pieces, all of which carry advertising by AbbVie's autoimmune drug Humira, documents part of the life of Rob Hill, an activist for Crohn's disease and founder of IDEAS, the Intestinal Disease Education and Awareness Society.
“Rob [pictured, right] is suffering from Crohn's disease and it almost took his life,” Curtis recounts, “so to inspire people to live with Crohn's, and know that they can treat it and live with normal lives, he decided to climb seven of the highest peaks on seven continents around the world.”
Rob's story—available on Remedy's HealthCentral.com—chronicles the early stages of his illness, through a relapse brought on by a car accident, to its peak when he eventually conquers Mount Everest, with plenty of visuals to accompany readers along the way.
Remedy found Rob through recommendations from its own patient experts, who are often selected from people who have already contributed to the website in some way. The firm then vets the candidate to ensure theirs is a truly inspiring story, and a film crew goes out to capture his or her life. An in-house tech team then creates the cinemagraphs (a static image with a recurring movement within it), and mixes and melds the audio and video to create distinct, cohesive chapters. The entire process takes three to four months, according to Curtis.
The results, Remedy says, have been encouraging so far. “We've found that patients are spending 3.5 times longer with these pieces than other parts of the site with flat media,” he said. The series has been promoted throughout Remedy's sites editorially and through its point-of-care magazines, available in pharmacies. Stories are also accessible on mobile devices.
The almost four-month production time is made possible through pharma sponsors, who were part of the original spark to start the initiative, Curtis pointed out. “What we were finding from both our advertiser requests for proposals and the interaction from our patient experts and patients was that there were a lot of uncontrolled conditions, there was a lot of hopelessness, there were a lot of people stuck in the house, or just not living their best lives, when all they really needed was a little bit of direction or motivation.”
LBLN's little bit of motivation will eventually assume the form of a 10-part series, he said. “We expect that we will partner with additional pharmaceutical companies to develop HIV, diabetes.” Remedy is already at work on a piece for multiple sclerosis, although Curtis declined to name the sponsor.
Remedy has long sought to foster relationships. Last year, viewership was up 50% across all its web properties as minutes per viewer reached 4.5, according to comScore Media Metrix.