Local search growing and may present opportunity for pharma
Local search may become increasingly important to pharma marketers, according to panelists at CBI's e-marketing conference this week. They said local search and geographical targeting could be used by pharma for clinical trials recruitment or reaching doctors in areas that don't have many sales reps. The local search trend seems to be catching on among advertisers, according to a new study from media strategy firm Borrell Associates. It predicts that the market for local paid search will approach $1 billion in 2006 and $1.7 billion in 2007. By 2010, Borrell predicts it will reach $4 billion and will make up 47% of local online advertising, reports MediaPost. The report also found that local advertisers were buying 36% of all text ads on Yahoo! and Google.
Friday, March 10, 2006
Future of pharma marketing is connecting with patients
It's time to start building relationships with consumers and eliminate the "pill to person" tactic of pharma marketing, according to Alfred O'Neill, who's at the helm of the new specialty healthcare marketing practice Ryan TrueHealth. "Education without motivation is empty," says O'Neill, whose past projects include the Pfizer for Living campaign and work with Genentech, Novartis, and Abbott. He says it's no longer enough to sell the features and benefits of a treatment. Instead, pharmas should communicate shared values and "get under the skin of the patient." O'Neill tells ePharm5 that the Internet is the perfect avenue for this kind of communication, however, he often finds unbranded Web sites "disingenuous." Although he says they are appropriate prelaunch and has created them himself, postlaunch they often employ a "bait and switch" technique by ultimately driving the consumer to the branded site. O'Neill says pharmas would be better suited to have the educational and emotional message that often accompanies an unbranded site come directly from the brand itself and connect with the emotional need of the patient. Ryan TrueHealth operates within Ryan iDirect, a division of DL Ryan Companies, LTD.
Posted by Fabio Gratton at 9:04 AM
Posted by Fabio Gratton at 8:03 AM
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Pop-up ads on the decline as advertisers favor branding instead
Pop-up ad use is on the decline for the first time in three years and the ad medium is not expected to be profitable this year, according to a survey from Advertising.com. Instead, Web advertisers are turning to traditional branding and more sophisticated ad formats. For example, Web publishers predict that standard banner ads and text links will be the most profitable in 2006. Publishers are also increasingly supporting sophisticated ad formats on their sites. Approximately 67% of Web publishers now support contextual advertising, up from 50% in 2005, according to the report. More than 76% of publishers support rich media formats, up from 69% in 2005; 35% support video, up from 25%; and about 30% use behavior targeting, up from 25%. In addition, more than 43% of publishers support streaming content and 30% plan to add it this year, according to Advertising.com.
Posted by Fabio Gratton at 8:53 AM
Start your e-marketing plan 12 months prior to Rx approval
An e-marketing roadmap for launching a new product online should span the 12 months before and six months after its FDA-approval, said Darrell Wakefield, associate director for Novartis, and Elizabeth Izard Apelles, managing partner at interactive marketing agency Greater Than One. During the period prior to launch, pharmas should prime the online market for their new drug with unbranded educational content, they said during CBI's e-marketing conference Tuesday. Companies should also be sure that their unbranded Web presence is scalable so it can grow with the brand,
Posted by Fabio Gratton at 8:53 AM
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Five Questions about Podcasting
Quick primer on one of marketing’s hottest new channels.
By Stacy Cowley
Sometimes it takes a new technology to light a fire beneath an old one. There’s nothing revolutionary about audio programming or even audio on-demand—dotcom survivor Audible.com has been selling downloadable content such as audio books and radio shows for nearly a decade. But thanks to the raging popularity and large storage capacity of Apple’s iPods, tech experimentalists began considering anew the possibilities of downloadable audio. It’s a classic tipping-point scenario: Tie new, easy-to-use distribution tools together with ever-cheaper storage capacity and the millions-sold iPod market. The result is podcasting, a phenomenon that went mainstream almost the moment it was created.
How does podcasting work?
"Podcasting" is a portmanteau of iPod and broadcasting. The broadcasting part comes from syndication tools that allow listeners to subscribe to receive automatic downloads of new podcasts in series that interest them. Apple’s iTunes software has built-in podcatching features, but you can also use other, standalone programs, such as the free, open-source Juice Receiver. Podcatching programs transfer new episodes to your PC. Some software will then also automatically deliver the files to your digital music player.
Podcast producers use RSS (Really Simple Syndication), a dialect of XML (extensible markup language), to create subscription feeds. Listeners point their podcatchers toward those feeds and receive their automatic updates.
Do you need an iPod to listen to podcasts?
No. Individual podcast shows are usually recorded in common audio formats like MP3. While some podcatchers’ auto-synch features only work with iPods, you can listen to podcasts on any digital music player or on your PC with standard programs like RealPlayer or Windows Media Player.
What’s the marketing angle?
Your company can shape the message it delivers, and a podcasting series distributed regularly to subscribers is a great way to build loyalty and create a bond with customers and leads. The trick, of course, is to offer content listeners will covet. For some companies, the podcasting opportunities are obvious. Music distribution services provider Nugs.net posts a monthly promotional podcast of samples from its archive of live shows, while travel website Hotelbook.com offers podcasts of travel tips. But companies that aren’t in the consumer services market can still make use of promotional podcasts—they just have to be more creative in evaluating what they have to offer.
IBM Corp. joined the podcasting crowd last August when it launched an occasional series called "IBM and the Future of...." IBM draws on its research scientists and business consultants to expound on how technology will influence the evolution of fields such as the auto industry, urban planning, shopping and the wired home. "The reasoning was that we could use content from our experts out in the field to market ourselves in different ways," says Ben Edwards, who manages IBM’s investor communications and oversees the podcasting series. IBM didn’t have any formal ROI metrics for its podcasting experiment, but with few hard costs attached and 52,000 downloads registered in the series’ first three months, the company considers it a success.
OK, so how do you make podcasts?
Audacity is a popular, free program for recording and digitizing and editing sound, but any sound software will work. Once you have a recorded sound file, upload it; if you’re creating a series, set up an RSS feed pointing to the site where new episodes will appear. That’s all there is to it. Unless you’re aiming for top-quality production quality, podcasting is a fairly inexpensive undertaking.
What if you don’t want to go the trouble of doing your own production?
Services shops are springing up to handle podcasting chores. SoniByte has a production staff and network of voice artists on tap to quickly convert scripts to ready-for-podcasting sound files. Liberated Syndication runs a hosting and syndication service that handles podcast storage and RSS feed creation, with an unlimited bandwidth allowance. For marketers interested in podcasting, the obstacles to start up have never been smaller.
Posted by Fabio Gratton at 11:54 AM
Google: Don't let search engine strategy become an afterthought
Search engine strategy is often an afterthought for pharma e-marketers, but it's a crucial tactic for driving visitors to your Web site, said Mary Ann Belliveau, Google's head of healthcare, during a panel discussion at CBI's e-marketing conference yesterday. Belliveau also encouraged pharmas to buy multiple keywords. "The wider the keyword list, the more efficient the campaign will become," she said. Belliveau also recommended pharma use both organic or paid search because both are equally important, and urged pharmas to purchase relevant keywords even if their site is the number-one organic search result. Paid keywords give the brand the opportunity to control the message, and if a brand or Web site appears twice on the page--in both the paid and organic listings--the effect on the consumer is that much greater, Belliveau said. For more information about search tactics, sign up for ePharm5's Search
Engine Strategies Webinar to be held March 29.
Pharma loses viable consumers by ignoring multicultural markets By ignoring the multicultural segments of the online market, pharma is missing major opportunities to connect with potential consumers, according to recent research by Manhattan Research. During yesterday's CBI e-marketing conference in Assess entire online landscape when launching drug online When designing an online strategy for a new product, pharmas should assess the entire online landscape related to the condition, said Darrell Wakefield, associate director at Novartis, and Elizabeth Izard Apelles, managing partner for Greater Than One, during CBI's e-marketing conference yesterday. Marketers should ask, "Where is the marketing gap and how am I going to fill it with specific tactics," Apelles said. Marketers should not only determine what their competitors are doing online, but what other online sources exist for information related to the condition, such as clinical or professional sites, patient forums, or advocacy organizations. Pharmas should seize any opportunity to become the primary online resource for a certain condition if one doesn't already exist, Apelles said. It's also important to investigate search engines to find out what results related keywords yield. Stay tuned tomorrow for a report on how User-generated content leaves pharma quaking in its boots During yesterday's CBI e-marketing conference panel discussion regarding the paradigm shift from marketer-controlled to usergenerated content (UGC), the disparity in thinking between vendors and pharma became wildly apparent. Although the six vendors on the panel came up with a myriad of benefits to using consumer-generated content, the one representative from the pharma industry--Jean-Paul Hepp, Ph.D., director of privacy at Pfizer--made it clear that he was not completely onboard with the concept. Although he did acknowledge that UGC represents the evolution of health-seeking online traffic, he said collecting data from the content provides a real risk to privacy. "Do it smartly, by collecting less more wisely. I would like to have less data at a higher quality," he said. Hepp emphasized that the pharma industry is very heavily regulated, and nothing has changed to adjust to UGC. "[UGC] is very scary, and it makes sense we are behind," he said. Stay tuned for a longer report about UGC in ePharm5 later this week. Comcast and Terra.com team up for Comcast Latino Comcast, the
Pharma loses viable consumers by ignoring multicultural markets
By ignoring the multicultural segments of the online market, pharma is missing major opportunities to connect with potential consumers, according to recent research by Manhattan Research. During yesterday's CBI e-marketing conference in
Assess entire online landscape when launching drug online
When designing an online strategy for a new product, pharmas should assess the entire online landscape related to the condition, said Darrell Wakefield, associate director at Novartis, and Elizabeth Izard Apelles, managing partner for Greater Than One, during CBI's e-marketing conference yesterday. Marketers should ask, "Where is the marketing gap and how am I going to fill it with specific tactics," Apelles said. Marketers should not only determine what their competitors are doing online, but what other online sources exist for information related to the condition, such as clinical or professional sites, patient forums, or advocacy organizations. Pharmas should seize any opportunity to become the primary online resource for a certain condition if one doesn't already exist, Apelles said. It's also important to investigate search engines to find out what results related keywords yield. Stay tuned tomorrow for a report on how
User-generated content leaves pharma quaking in its boots
During yesterday's CBI e-marketing conference panel discussion regarding the paradigm shift from marketer-controlled to usergenerated content (UGC), the disparity in thinking between vendors and pharma became wildly apparent. Although the six vendors on the panel came up with a myriad of benefits to using consumer-generated content, the one representative from the pharma industry--Jean-Paul Hepp, Ph.D., director of privacy at Pfizer--made it clear that he was not completely onboard with the concept. Although he did acknowledge that UGC represents the evolution of health-seeking online traffic, he said collecting data from the content provides a real risk to privacy. "Do it smartly, by collecting less more wisely. I would like to have less data at a higher quality," he said. Hepp emphasized that the pharma industry is very heavily regulated, and nothing has changed to adjust to UGC. "[UGC] is very scary, and it makes sense we are behind," he said. Stay tuned for a longer report about UGC in ePharm5 later this week.
Comcast and Terra.com team up for Comcast Latino
Posted by Fabio Gratton at 11:50 AM
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Stop Aids: Federal Office for Public Health, Swiss Aids Foundation
Stop Aids is an example of one of the longest running and most carefully evaluated social marketing programs for AIDS prevention in the world. Its initial audience was gay men, but as the epidemic began to expand it reached out to a truly national audience. Its most important difference was to constantly measure not only condom use, but changing attitudes toward the epidemic. Condom use among men between the ages of 17-30 yrs old, for example increased from 8% to almost 50% between '87 and '90. One product was the condom, but another product was anti-discrimination and later needle exchange. The Swiss were convinced that as long as AIDS was feared, risky sex would remain underground. The price of prevention was lower than the price of high-risk behavior, because the price of prevention no longer included the fear of discovery. In addition to condom promotion and needle exchange being promoted on radio and TV, community groups were organized, a special Hot rubber brand created for gay men, and new distribution points opened throughout the country for condoms and for counseling and testing.
Evaluation of the STOP AIDS prevention campaign was based on a model that assumes that acceptance and retention of protective behavior is due in part to changes in attitude, opinion and knowledge motivated by intervention and prevention programs. The program was evaluated from the onset using both qualitative and quantitative measurements; and because it was often not possible to measure individual campaign segments, the evaluation included a variety of the elements affecting protective behavior including the attitude and level of awareness of the general population and targeted groups.
Increased condom sales: Observed changes in the market for condoms, the central focus of the campaign, was one of the key factors used to measure the program's impact on the population. After systematic market observation of the manufacturers supplying at least 80 percent of condoms in Switzerland, results indicated that between 1986 and 1990, condom sales had increased by 80 percent (from 7.6 million to 15 million units).
Increased condom use: The campaign's impact attitude and behavior change was measured through recorded changes in condom use among targeted age groups. Between 1987 and 1990 condom use among 17-30 year-olds increased from 8% to almost 50%. Condom use among 31-45 year-olds also increased during that time (from 22% to 35%).
STOP AIDS did not increase the number of partners: It had been suggested that the campaign's support of condom use would promote promiscuity among young adults and result in an increase in the number of individuals' sexual partners. This argument was contradicted by a study conducted between 1987 and 1989 that found the number of people that considered mutual faithfulness effective protection against HIV transmission had increased from 18% to 49% between those years. In the 17-20 year age group, the number of those who had had more than three partners actually decreased slightly.
The STOP AIDS Campaign
Created by a joint task force of the Swiss AIDS Foundation and the Swiss Federal Office for Public Health, STOP AIDS is the longest running HIV/AIDS prevention program in the world. It was launched in 1987 as a national, multi-media campaign designed to: (1) increase condom use among Switzerland's general population and targeted risk groups, (2) reduce discrimination against individuals with HIV/AIDS, (3) increase solidarity among those living with HIV/AIDS and with the rest of the population. Through an advertising strategy of persuasive, gradually phased in messages and mainstream imagery, and a system of constant evaluation, the program achieved successful results during the first few, critical years of its operation. The STOP AIDS campaign remains in place as Switzerland's primary AIDS prevention program, and is one of the hallmark examples of successful social marketing.
Introducing a new condom product for gay men: The Hot Rubber
Prior to the STOP AIDS campaign, there were two successful national prevention efforts initiated in Switzerland. The first occurred in 1985 when the Swiss AIDS Foundation established its own brand of condom, Hot Rubber, to market to gay men. Through its own distribution channels and targeted marketing, the Swiss AIDS Foundation set out to make condoms readily available, to diminish the stigma and embarrassment associated with purchasing them, and to encourage consistent use. The effectiveness of the Hot Rubber brand's promotion is illustrated in its sales volume from that time. In just a nine- month period of 1985, condom sales rose from 2,000 units per month to more than 55,000, leveling off a year later at 75,000 units.
The Early Effort: Build Awareness
The second effort, initiated by the Swiss Federal Office for Public Health in 1986, was an informational brochure about the AIDS virus mailed to every household in the country. Its main purpose was to confront the population with an official government recognition of the virus, to present the known facts about transmission, and to dispel some of the fear-inducing rumors that had developed out of media speculation. A survey conducted immediately after the brochure's distribution showed that at least 75 percent of the population had looked at the pamphlet, and that 56 percent said they had read it.
The STOP AIDS marketing plan was designed to maximize behavior change and individual responsibility through a series of products and messages promoting increased knowledge, awareness, and action. The central strategy of the campaign was based on the learning method, a concept that assumes that individuals are capable of both changing their behavior and taking responsibility for protecting themselves. As part of this strategy, inducement of fear was eliminated as possible means for altering behavior. Scare tactics were seen as a cynical method for affecting change, and because they often produced their own set of negative results, fear was deemed inappropriate as a credible prevention technique. The campaign, instead, used a positive message promoting individual awareness and self-determination, and avoided imposing a judgmental or moralistic view on any particular behavior. This was seen as a more effective way to address the socially sensitive subjects of sexuality and illicit drug use, while encouraging safe prevention habits.
Target Condom Use
Building on the success of the Hot Rubber Program and the raised awareness of the national brochure, STOP AIDS made condoms the central focus of its campaign, promoting their use as the most reliable and effective method of preventing the spread of HIV. The campaign's logo itself incorporates a pink, rolled condom within the STOP AIDS title, and delivers a clear visual message about preventing HIV transmission. In less than a year's time, the logo enjoyed a recognition factor of over 90% among the Swiss population. Initially, the condom was treated more as a neutral technical aid, but as the campaign evolved it was shown in its unrolled form placed over a model's thumb to illustrate its use for foreigners, tourists and adolescents that didn't understand the symbol's meaning. Later on, the STOP AIDS condom ads also began to feature individuals as the focal element in order to inject reality, voice and emotion into the campaign's message. These ads used young adults from different walks of life and sexual orientations to show their support for condom use and responsibility.
Monitor and Readjust Strategy
An important element of the STOP AIDS campaign was its strategy of gradually phasing in different messages over a period of several years. This approach had the effect of allowing the population to slowly digest the information being presented while making subtle changes in attitude and behavior. Soon after the initial condom campaign, the media strategy began to include ads targeting the issues of needle sharing and faithfulness.
Target Needle Exchange and Faithfulness
Because media campaigns addressing drug use are relatively ineffective due to their inability to influence drug availability or distribution, STOP AIDS concentrated its messages around preventing needle sharing and first-time drug-users while making the connection between drug use and the spread of AIDS. That same year, the campaign also promoted the concept of mutual faithfulness among partners as an important means of protection from infection and as a complement to the central message of condom use.
Target Isolation and Discrimination
In 1989, to address the stigma and isolation felt by those living with HIV and AIDS, the concept of mutual solidarity was introduced into the campaign. With large-scale exposure on numerous television and print ads, the campaign sought to fight all the various forms of discrimination taking place against those living with HIV/AIDS. The ads showed prominent Swiss personalities, elders and AIDS victims making a public appeal for solidarity and promoting the basic human rights of dignity, equality and respect. It was thought that by promoting unity among those with the disease and between those infected and the rest of the population, the HIV/AIDS issue would be dealt with in a more effective and caring manner. With the other elements of the campaign, this additional message formed a more complete package of social awareness.
During its first five years, the STOP AIDS campaign's multi-media strategy featured numerous messages and employed every media available to reach the maximum number of sexually active individuals. By 1992, the campaign had produced and placed over 75 different billboards and posters in three languages at 1,200 locations around Switzerland. Billboards were used because of their wide exposure and ability to impose the maximum visual image with minimal copy, an ideal format for communicating simple messages to the population at large. For the more complex messages, print, radio and television ads were employed. Television ads ran on all of the major networks and in each of the three language areas to achieve a reach of 72.6% of the overall population. Other targeted populations such as adolescents and foreign nationals were reached through movie theater advertisements, student newspapers, and sporting events. In the two months in which they ran, movie theater commercials were successful in reaching more than 50% of Switzerland's 14-34 year age group. Because of lessening attention in the media and the lack of effective treatment available for HIV/AIDS victims, the STOP AIDS Campaign enacted a policy of permanent presence.
Posted by Fabio Gratton at 7:32 PM
(The M.O.C.H.A. Project: www.mochaproject.org)
Sheldon D. Fields, PhD, RN, FNP1, Alexander Camacho, BS2, Kraig Pannell, BA2, John Morgan, MSW2, Avril Little, BA2, Mitchell Wharton, MS, CRNP1, and Michael Stevens, BS2. (1) School of Nursing, University of Rochester, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Box SON, Rochester, NY 14642, 585-275-9943, firstname.lastname@example.org, (2) Men of Color Health Awareness Project, Inc.(MOCHA), 107 Liberty Pole Way, Rochester, NY 14604
Issues: Black Men who have Sex with other Men (Black MSM) account for more than half of all new HIV infections among MSM. This new generation of Black MSM has strayed away from utilizing public venues as networking sites and has gained an elaborate knowledge and connection with peers through online internet methods.
HIV/AIDS prevention outreach that traditionally targeted public arenas such as bars, bookstores and sex worker circuits has failed to reach the younger Black MSM population. The internet has become a primary means by which Black MSM are finding and engaging each other in a variety of sexual and drug related activities. Some activities include bareback sex, party and play associated with Crystal Meth, masturbation groups, fetish play such as sadistic masochist torture and urine play.
Description: Project Y.E.A.H. (Youth Empowerment Around HIV) has analyzed the behavioral patterns of Black MSM who engage in these online drug and sex chat forums. Through electronic communications and an effective methodology of internet HIV/AIDS prevention techniques, outreach workers discuss current health topics of interest in main chat forums and/or promote enrollment in Project Y.E.A.H. services. Outreach workers also perform individual level interventions and recommend office visits to individuals with high-risk profiles. Lessons Learned: Internet outreach has proven to be an effective means to reach and enroll Black MSM in Project Y.E.A.H. services. Furthermore, it has also increased awareness of other agency programs and services.
Recommendations: Community based organizations that target Black MSM should develop online outreach strategies to promote their programs.
- a)Identify online internet venues that target Black MSM.
- b)Structure internet outreach in accordance with HIV Confidentiality Laws.
- c)Follow-up with high risk profile individuals.
Keywords: African American, Internet
Related Web page: www.mochaproject.org
133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition
November 5-9, 2005
New Orleans, LA
Posted by Fabio Gratton at 7:15 PM
|Avoid compliance risks when using online patient testimonials|
|When using patient testimonials on your pharma Web site it's important to be aware of the compliance requirements, said James M. Beslity, senior counsel and head of global privacy and records management at Bristol-Myers Squibb, during CBI's e-marketing conference in Philadelphia yesterday. "Compliance is everybody's responsibility," including marketers', Beslity said. A testimonial may be considered promotion if it makes product claims, and therefore would be subject to FDA regulation, Beslity said. Because of the chance of FDA scrutiny, testimonials should be reviewed by the company's legal department before they are used. Before posting testimonials on their sites, pharmas should have the patient sign a consent and release form that outlines how the testimonial is going to be used, Beslity said. If the patient who provided the testimonial is referred by a healthcare provider, a HIPAA authorization is also needed.|
Posted by Fabio Gratton at 8:35 AM
Monday, March 06, 2006
Online Video Comes Of Age
by Chris Young, Monday, March 6, 2006
I RECENTLY PROMISED MYSELF THAT I would never again say "tipping point" or "perfect storm." Enough already. Yet, just as I've slipped on that daily gym workout resolution, I just can't think of another term to describe what is happening with online video than to call it a perfect storm.
Nearly every major player, from YAHOO to Google to Microsoft, is preparing a new platform that will make it easier for users to find and view online video. Companies like Scripps and Viacom have launched broadband "channels" where nearly all the content is video clips. And suddenly all of the major traditional offline content companies (OK, let's call them broadcast networks) have discovered there is a market for paid downloads of their shows. A perfect storm, indeed.
None of this has been lost on the advertising community. Just a few short years ago, the online video business was the sole domain of entertainment companies-- films, games, music--who used their product as online trailers. These companies are still major player (although using far more sophisticated ad units, often with interactive components that tend to hold audiences longer) but more and more, every industry is starting to use online video. For example, virtually all of the clips on Scripps' new broadband channel (HGTVKitchenDesign.com) are preceded by a commercial by such companies as P&G, Kohler and Lumber Liquidators. Same is true at ESPN.com. Increasingly on many other Web sites you are blocked from accessing free content until you have watched a short commercial video. Video networks are providing huge value, too. Take for example, Broadband Enterprises, which has aggregated 450MM impressions from niche sites all over the Net.
Even the video download business has a stake in advertising. A new report by Points North Group says that online video downloads have a greater chance of success if they're ad-supported rather than paid. The firm found that by a margin of more than three to one, users prefer watching ads versus paying the now-standard $1.99 for commercial-free programs.
Demand for online video advertising is so great now that there is a shortage of inventory to support all of it. The demand is coming from every direction: auto makers, tourism, consumer packaged goods, even book publishers. And why shouldn't demand be great? Online video marries the best of television advertising with the interactivity and accountability of the Internet. But there are some significant differences in broadcast video and online video that advertisers need to be aware of.
William Crosby, senior vice president-broadband at Scripps, tells me that he has well over 25,000 hours of video content from various Scripps TV networks to work with online, and he likes original content shot specifically for broadband. "One of our challenges in producing broadband vertical sites is that TV doesn't always work on the computer screen. We have some brilliant producers who are excellent at working in the online medium and picking the best stuff from our library that does lend itself to the small screen," he says. "We have a phrase that summarizes how to work in this new medium: shoot tight, light, bright."
On the other hand, we have found that repurposed video can work very effectively if carefully edited and mounted in the right ad unit. Utilizing the entire screen for video viewing makes the viewing experience more enjoyable for the user.
There has been endless debate in the advertising community about the optimum length of online video spots. Some have advocated spots as short as :10, claiming that because users have the control to click the ad off, they won't stick around very long. But, from a review of over 500 online campaigns, we know that on average people watch 21.04 seconds of a :30 online ad (equating to 70 percent of video content consumed.) We also know that adding interactive elements engages users and increases branding. An enhanced ad unit is one with more than just the standard [play, pause, stop] buttons. They have a higher rate of interaction across all verticals, and that rate increases as more clickable features are added.
There was a time that buying online video was like giving a speech at the UN without translators. Everyone had their own codex and players, which meant having to alter how the video was delivered to each different site. Now, there is great momentum in the industry toward ad management solutions guaranteed to be compatible with any video player and to run flawlessly on any Web site showing 15-30 second video ads before the streaming content that the user has selected to view.
Online video is big and growing fast. But there is a learning curve for agencies and clients alike. Fortunately, we have enough history to help avoid the potholes and bring online video to its fullest potential.
Posted by Fabio Gratton at 12:10 PM
Will WebMD's Healthy Glow Last?
The Net health-care concern has been a hit on the Street since being spun off last year. Now its numbers have to back up the optimism
Just days after Google (GOOG ) raised a staggering $4 billion in a September secondary stock offering, another brand-name dot-com made a much quieter, but equally impressive splash on Wall Street. Health-information provider WebMD Health (WBMD ) spun out from its parent company on Oct. 4, raising $129 million. Shares of its stock have nearly doubled to $34.92 since then (as of the market close on Feb. 22).
Yet the 7-year-old Internet survivor is barely profitable, and its parent company, Emdeon, has been tainted by an accounting scandal. What's more, WebMD's advertising-supported sites are facing competition from general portals such as Google itself. None of this fazes CEO Wayne Gattinella, however. "We're very early in the game," he says. "We have a tremendous amount of headroom."
PHARMA'S BOOST. The Street will soon learn whether Gattinella has the numbers to back up his bravado. On Feb. 23, WebMD will announce its 2005 results. As of November, the company was predicting sales would increase 25%, to $168 million, from last year, and that profit would rise a percentage point or two, to about $6.6 million. WebMD believes earnings could triple this year.
Most of the gain is expected to be driven by pharmaceutical companies, which are placing ads in droves on WebMD's consumer site, as well as the educational portals it maintains for doctors under the brand name Medscape. In the third quarter alone, advertising, sponsorship and promotion revenue grew 24% from a year earlier.
WebMD's ad salespeople have a reputation for being difficult to work with, Forrester Research says. And it charges 20% or more for ads than other portals. Still, says Forrester Research analyst Elizabeth Boehm, it's no surprise advertisers keep turning to WebMD: It attracted 11 million unique visitors in January -- nearly three times as much as its next closest competitor, MSN Health, according to Nielsen/Net Ratings. "WebMD is viewed as a necessary evil," Boehm says. "Necessary because it is the lead player."
TARGET AUDIENCES. WebMD is capitalizing not only on its brand name, but also on broader marketing trends in the pharma industry. Stung by criticism over Merck's (MRK ) lavish advertising for the arthritis drug Vioxx, which has since been pulled from the market, pharma companies have been shying away from television. Instead, they're gravitating towards the Internet, where they can aim their advertising efforts at people who plug specific disease terms into search engines (see BW, 8/15/06, "Drugmakers Are Changing Channels").
Type "cholesterol" into the search box on WebMD's home page, for example, and the first two links that pop up are to sites sponsored by Pfizer (PFE ) and Merck, both of which sell statin drugs to fight high cholesterol. Internet ads also allow pharma outfits to provide more information about a particular drug than they can in a 30-second spot -- especially one that's weighed down by a laundry list of side effects. The pharma industry's spending on Internet ads rose 30% in 2005, to $53.9 million, while TV advertising crept up just 5%, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.
Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY ) is one of the pharmaceutical giants that has embraced Internet advertising, and WebMD is at the top of its go-to list. Last year, Bristol-Myers adopted a new code for direct-to-consumer advertising that prohibits TV ads during the first year of a drug's launch. But the Internet remains fair game.
"ROBUST WITH INFORMATION." Bristol-Myers advertises several products, including its anti-clotting drug Plavix, on WebMD. "The Holy Grail is to get people to come back to your site," says Tom Chetrick, vice-president of advertising and marketing services for Bristol-Myers. "WebMD is so robust with information that people looking for a particular disease will keep coming back."
Bristol-Myers is preparing to launch Orencia, a drug to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and Chetrick says the company is likely to include WebMD in its media plan.
WebMD has been aggressively targeting doctors as well. Its Medscape site provides drug references, journal articles, and online courses physicians can take for continuing-education credit. Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney estimates that about half of WebMD's sponsorship and ad revenues come from its physician-targeted sites. The company has been aggressive about maintaining its leadership position there.
TOO MUCH CONFIDENCE? In October, competitor eMedicine announced that its traffic was more than twice that of Medscape's, prompting WebMD to dash off a press release denying the claim. Two months later, WebMD bought eMedicine for $25 million. "Reaching doctors is very important to the future of our business," says Gattinella. "Pharmaceutical and biotech companies spend twice as much on educating doctors as they do educating consumers."
Still, some investors think Gattinella may be a bit overconfident about WebMD's growth potential. The number of WebMD shares held by short-sellers, who profit from betting a stock will go down, rose 31% in January. That was the single greatest monthly rise in short interest by any Internet company, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Moreover, WebMD's shares are trading at 264 times earnings -- astronomical, compared with the Internet industry's average price-to-earnings multiple of 44. That means even the slightest disappointment could send shares into a tailspin.
OWNERSHIP QUESTIONS. Fund manager Linda Killian says WebMD's miniscule profit growth doesn't justify the valuation. "They have to capitalize on the investments they've made in this business," says Killian, manager of Renaissance Capital's IPO Plus Aftermarket Fund, which has been selling its shares. "They haven't monetized it as much as we'd like."
Plus, there's always the risk that with WebMD charging a premium for ads, advertisers could shift more of their dollars to broader portals such as those run by Microsoft (MSFT ), Yahoo (YHOO ), and Google.
Then there are the questions about WebMD's ownership structure. Its parent company, which was renamed Emdeon last year, still owns about 85% of WebMD's shares. In December, a
attorney for the district of South Carolina indicted 10 former officers and employees of an Emdeon subsidiary on charges of accounting improprieties. The unit, known as Emdeon Practice Services, was acquired by the company several years ago, and it was during that deal that the first hints of accounting issues arose. U.S.
HEALTHY MARGINS. On Feb. 16, Emdeon announced that it would explore the option of selling off the Practice Services unit and one other subsidiary. Shares of WebMD dipped 7% that day, with some investors questioning whether WebMD's shares might get caught up in the deals, possibly diluting the stock.
Martin Wygod, who serves as board chairman of both WebMD and Emdeon, says concerns are overblown. "We have no intention of selling off any of WebMD's shares," he says. The company says all accounting issues are now in the rear-view mirror.
As for the potential for future growth, Wygod vows that all incremental revenues will carry profit margins as high as 40%. "They'll be more profitable than what's currently on the books, because we'll have more of a fixed overhead," Wygod says. "We expect earnings to go up faster than revenues."
INFORMED SALESFORCE. This is far from the first time WebMD has faced down skeptics. Its predecessor company, Healtheon, was lampooned as a symbol of dot-com excesses in the 2000 book The New New Thing, by Michael Lewis. The book recounts how Jim Clark, Healtheon's founder, told investors that his new Net company would be the nexus of health care -- drawing together insurers, doctors, providers, and consumers -- and that it would grow into the most highly valued company on the New York Stock Exchange.
But by the time Wygod and his management team took over in late 2000, Healtheon was on its way to losing $450 million, with bankruptcy a near-certainty. "It was difficult to give the advertising away," recalls Gattinella, who was hired as head of the online business in 2001.
So Gattinella completely overhauled the company's selling approach. He axed most of the old salesforce and hired new salespeople straight out of the pharmaceutical and medical-devices industries. Gattinella figured that the sales reps would need a deep understanding of the products if they were to persuade potential customers to place ads.
PRIVATE PORTALS. Gattinella spent his first two years on the road with the salespeople, begging prospects to give WebMD a chance. "The health-care industry didn't understand the Internet back then," he recalls. Toward the end of 2001, WebMD acquired Medscape, and faced a whole new round of skepticism from advertisers. "They believed that practicing physicians wouldn't get medical information from the Internet," Gattinella says. "What they didn't realize was that medical students were already learning online. Then we went through a generational change."
Now that advertisers are on board with WebMD, the dot-com is rounding out its customer base by designing private health portals for insurance companies and employers. In the third quarter, WebMD signed deals with IBM (IBM ), Cisco Systems (CSCO ), and several other large companies.
And the nation's largest provider of health plans, WellPoint, adopted WebMD as the engine for its personalized health portals (see BW Online, 2/20/06, "How Good Is Your Online Nurse?"). The deals could boost WebMD's licensing revenues -- and analysts will be eyeing the Feb. 23 earnings announcement for any evidence of that.
HYPE OR HIT? As Gattinella sits in his new sprawling
office, built to accommodate his company's expected growth, he refuses to let WebMD's critics distract him from his mission. "I've always believed in the merger of the Internet and health-care information," Gattinella says. "It's not as if our mission has changed." Manhattan
Still, he can't help but laugh at the first piece of advice Wygod gave him back in 1991, when the two men met at Merck-Medco. Wygod, then CEO of the pharmaceutical-services firm, left Gattinella waiting for several hours in the lobby. As he breezed by to apologize, he said, "Make yourself comfortable, but not too comfortable," Gattinella recalls with a laugh. "I thought that was good general advice for business."
WebMD is clearly ensconced at the top of the online-health heap. But with Wall Street expectations at an all-time high, Gattinella had better pay close heed to Wygod's advice.
Posted by Fabio Gratton at 11:37 AM
Report finds historic drop in total number of cancer deaths
American Cancer Society estimates based on first drop in deaths in seven decades
From 2002 to 2003, the number of recorded cancer deaths decreased by 778 in men, but increased by 409 in women, resulting in a net decrease of 369 total cancer deaths, the first such decrease since 1930, when nationwide data began to be compiled. The decrease in the number of Americans dying from cancer is a result of declining cancer death rates outpacing the impact of growth and aging of the population. Death rates adjust for the size and age of the population. The death rate from all cancers combined has decreased in the
“The drop in the actual number of cancer deaths in 2003 and in our own projections for 2006 mark a remarkable turn in our decades-long fight to eliminate cancer as a major health threat,” said John R. Seffrin, Ph.D., American Cancer Society chief executive officer. “For years, we’ve proudly pointed to dropping cancer death rates even as a growing and aging population meant more actual deaths. Now, for the first time, the advances we’ve made in prevention, early detection, and treatment are outpacing even the population factors that in some ways obscured that success.”
Since 1952, when the first edition of the publication consisted of four typewritten pages, Cancer Facts & Figures has become a critical tool for scientists and journalists reporting about cancer trends. The annual estimates of new cancer cases and deaths are some of the most widely quoted cancer statistics in the world. The Society’s leading team of epidemiologic researchers compiles and analyzes incidence and mortality data from around the country to estimate the number of new cancer cases and deaths for the current year nationwide and in individual states. Other highlights from this year’s publication:
In 2006, an estimated 1,399,790 new cancer cases and 564,830 deaths from cancer are expected in the
Incidence and death rates from lung cancer continue to decrease in men. Among women, the lung cancer incidence rate has leveled off, but death rates continue to increase. Lung cancer remains the top cause of cancer death in the
Breast cancer remains the most common cancer other than skin cancer among women in the
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer other than skin cancer among men in the
Cancers that can be prevented or detected earlier by following the Society’s testing guidelines account for approximately half of all new cancer cases in the
Great American Health Check users can go online and answer questions about age, gender, height, weight, family history of cancer, dietary habits, physical activity levels, alcohol and tobacco use, either for themselves or a loved one. They then receive a personalized cancer action plan that includes early cancer detection tests they may need as well as recommendations for healthy lifestyle changes. Cancer information specialists are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at the American Cancer Society’s toll-free call center, 1-800-ACS-2345, to mail information about the Great American Health Check and specific cancer screenings.
Each year, Cancer Facts & Figures features a Special Section highlighting a particular aspect of cancer prevention, early detection or treatment. Tobacco, obesity and infectious causes of cancer have been discussed in recent years. In 2006, the Special Section considers environmental pollutants (particularly air pollutants) and cancer. While exposure to pollutants is thought to account for a relatively small percentage of cancer deaths—about 4 percent from occupational exposures and 2 percent from environmental pollutants (man-made and naturally occurring)—the topic is of considerable public interest and an ongoing scientific challenge. Even a small percentage (6 percent) can represent many deaths, approximately 33,900 in the
Much of what is known about air contaminants and cancer comes from occupational studies of workers who were highly exposed in the past and can be clearly identified and followed for long periods of time. The Special Section provides information about two air pollutants that pose potential risk to the general public: asbestos and radon. Asbestos causes lung cancer, mesothelioma, and possibly other cancers, while radon causes lung cancer. Asbestos products remain in most buildings constructed between 1930 and 1975, and can present a danger during renovations or demolition. Radon, a gas that is emitted naturally from the earth, has been shown to cause lung cancer in miners exposed to very high concentrations and is present at lower concentrations in the indoor air (generally basements) of most homes. Radon has been estimated to cause between 10 and 14 percent of lung cancer deaths in the
Secondhand tobacco smoke is an important indoor air contaminant known to increase cancer risk. Cigarette smoke contains many known and probable carcinogens. For example, it is a major source of population exposure to benzene, a leukemia-causing substance also present in gasoline fumes and automobile exhaust.
The article also describes the major sources and types of outdoor air pollution. Sources include vehicles, factories, fossil fuel-burning power plants, incinerators, recycling facilities, and metal smelting plants, as well as natural sources, like windblown dust and wildfires. The report details the major categories of air pollutants and how they are regulated. Exposure to fine particulates, a type of air pollution often present in urban air, has been linked with lung cancer, and there is even stronger evidence of increased heart and lung disease associated with exposure. The report recognizes progress in reducing air pollution and the importance that such progress be sustained. The full report can be viewed after embargo at www.cancer.org/statistics.
The American Cancer Society is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by saving lives, diminishing suffering and preventing cancer through research, education, advocacy and service. Founded in 1913 and with national headquarters in
*U.S. Census Bureau estimated July 2005 populations:
Link to NCHS Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/pubs/pubd/hestats/finaldeaths03/finaldeaths03.htm
Posted by Fabio Gratton at 11:34 AM
Web Sites Let Patients Customize Search for Doctors
A growing number of Web sites are helping patients find health care providers who meet certain criteria, including race, religion and "sensitivity to sexual orientation," the Washington Post reports.
Posted by Fabio Gratton at 11:32 AM