Friday, March 17, 2006

Pharmas among highest ad spenders, Internet spending soars

Pharmas among highest ad spenders, Internet spending soars     

With $4.2 billion in spending, prescriptiont drugs and pharmaceuticals were the third-highest product category for ad spending in 2005, a 2.4% increase over the year before, according to Nielsen Media Research. Procter & Gamble was the highest overall ad spender, despite a 1.3% decrease in spending from the year before. Johnson & Johnson was also ranked among the top ten ad spenders, ranking sixth overall and spending just 0.2% more than last year. The Nielsen data also shows that the Internet experienced 23.3% growth in 2005 over 2004, the largest jump of any media. Spanish language TV ranked next, growing 16.9%, followed by cable TV, which grew 11% since the year before.      

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

E-mails sent on Friday get best open rates, says another study

E-mails sent on Friday get best open rates, says another study


Another study is showing that e-mails sent on Friday get better open rates. Friday had the highest average open rate for fourteen months straight, according to the ExactTarget study of 2.7 billion e-mail messages. These findings match those of another study from online marketing firm eROI (ePharm5, 2/2/06) that showed the success of Friday e-mailing. The ExactTarget study also showed that the click-through rates were 25% higher on weekends than during the week. However, only 14.3% of e-mails are sent on Fridays, 4.9% are sent on Saturdays, and 3% are sent on Sundays, compared to 24.5% that are sent on Tuesdays. According to ExactTarget, because fewer marketers send e-mails on Fridays and the weekend, the odds of getting a consumer's attention on those days are greater. 

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African-American women unaware of colorectal cancer risk

African-American women unaware of colorectal cancer risk


Roche is sponsoring a new program, Dare to Be Aware, to address the huge gap in African-American women's risk of developing and dying from colorectal cancer and their perception of that risk. Although African-American women have the highest risk of any gender, race, or ethnicity of developing the disease, 96% don't consider themselves at risk, according to a national survey. Because of this misconception, the Black Women's Health Imperative and the National Women's Health Resource Center have teamed up for Dare to Be Aware, which aims to help these women recognize their risk and get screened. According to the survey, 70% of African-American women over age 45 are not getting screened, despite newly updated guidelines from the American College of Gastroenterology that recommend beginning screening at age 45. Roche makes the colorectal cancer treatment Xeloda. 

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Drug Companies Revisit Ad Campaigns

Drug Companies Revisit Ad Campaigns

Voluntarily enforced guidelines have sparked changes in the way products are advertised.

From the Associated Press

March, 14 2006


NEW YORK — Client confidentiality prevents Andrew Schirmer from revealing specifics, but it's easy to believe his claim that his job has been especially challenging lately.


Schirmer is trying to devise a new ad campaign for Viagra, Pfizer Inc.'s erectile dysfunction drug, after racy spots for impotency pills helped fuel the public's ire over drug commercials. There hasn't been a Viagra TV ad since November 2004, when regulators requested Pfizer halt the commercials because they violated several regulations, including making unsubstantiated claims.


"With all the sex in ads, this is the one place where we can't use sex," lamented Schirmer, managing director of McCann Humancare, an agency specializing in healthcare ads.


Facing a furor over its advertising practices and the potential of more government regulation, the pharmaceutical industry adopted voluntary guidelines to improve the accuracy and balance of ads so that the severity of diseases and drugs' side effects aren't whitewashed.


The guidelines, announced last summer, have already sparked changes: Spending on brand advertising is flat while disease awareness campaigns are flourishing. The look of the ads has become more straightforward; doctors describing products is becoming de rigueur.


The possibility of more government regulation looms. Late last year, the Food and Drug Administration held two days of public hearings on drug advertising and is now reviewing comments on the subject. The FDA said it was too early to say whether any new rules would be instituted, but some say it is likely.


"Whenever there is a public hearing, it is a sign that change is coming," said Gary Messplay, a lawyer who represents drug companies. Although Messplay praised the guidelines, he said they were "a little too little, a little too late."


Only 18% of consumers believe that pharmaceutical ads can be trusted "most of the time," according to a study released last year by the Kaiser Family Foundation. That's down by almost half since 1997, when one-third of people surveyed said you could trust ads most of the time.


The withdrawal of Merck & Co. pain reliever Vioxx in September 2004 cast a harsh spotlight on direct-to-consumer ads. The heavily promoted drug was found to have potentially lethal side effects after long-term use.


Last year, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) called for a two-year moratorium on advertising new drugs, saying commercials drove up healthcare costs. Thirty-five percent of Americans favor such a ban, according to a survey last year by Harris Interactive for the Wall Street Journal Online.


Total spending on drug advertising rose 4.9% to $4.7 billion in 2005, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Spending on branded ads was essentially flat at $4.1 billion. Both categories had been up more than 20% the previous two years.


The flat spending on brand advertising can be tied to the lack of ads for Vioxx and Pfizer's Celebrex, as well as drops in advertising for impotency drugs and some antidepressants, said Jon Swallen, director of research at TNS.


Meanwhile, spending on corporate and disease-awareness commercials — a fraction of drug advertising — rose 44.4% to $523 million. The industry guidelines call for more disease awareness ads, such as Pfizer's campaign on erectile dysfunction.


Schirmer says the new commercials reflect an environment in which companies are wary of airing campaigns that could violate industry guidelines or FDA regulations.


There has been "an explosion of white coats on television ads," commercials featuring doctors discussing drugs' benefits and risks, Schirmer said.


Ruth Day, a Duke University professor who studies drug ads, said the parade of doctors more accurately reflected the seriousness of prescription drugs than some earlier "cute" ads.


But the trend troubles some ad agency executives who say that if commercials look alike, patients will tune out the messages.


"There is just a lot of safeness out there now," Schirmer said. "We can't get the hotshot creative types we could two years ago, and that horrifies me."


Clients may be less willing to take creative risks, said Matt Giegerich, president and CEO of communications company CommonHealth. For example, CommonHealth created a campaign for AstraZeneca's cholesterol medicine Crestor, featuring a Dr. Seuss-like rhyme extolling the product, which was criticized for trivializing a serious condition. Giegerich doubted the ad would be accepted today even though it was very effective, because no company wants its commercial to be a lightning rod for critics.


Companies are shifting money away from television ads into other avenues such as public relations and the Internet because it is difficult to present a balanced portrait of a drug in a 30-second or 60-second spot, Giegerich said.


Pat Kelly, president of Pfizer U.S. Pharmaceuticals, said that the company was not skittish about creative commercials and that the new guidelines were "a perfect opportunity for [ad executives] to come up with new approaches."


Meanwhile, the quest for the Viagra ad continues. No new campaign is scheduled, and Kelly concedes that developing new ads isn't easy.


"This medicine is associated with sex," he said. "Nothing associated with sex doesn't create criticism."



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Microsoft Tests Ads In Web-Based Software

Microsoft Tests Ads In Web-Based Software
by Shankar Gupta, Thursday, Mar 16, 2006 6:00 AM EST
MICROSOFT WEDNESDAY ANNOUNCED A TRIO of pilot programs to test advertisements on its recently launched free services--blogging network MSN Spaces and the Web-based software products, Windows Live Mail, and Office Live.
The pilots involve 20 marketers--including Coca-Cola Brazil, JCPenney Co., and Monster Worldwide Inc.--which are advertising in several different geographic markets. Ads on MSN Spaces are being tested in Australia and Italy, ads on the Windows Live Mail beta are being tested in the United States and nine other European and Asian markets, and ads on Office Live are being tested only in the United States. The MSN Spaces pilot began most recently, on March 9, while the Office Live and Windows Live Mail pilots began quietly in February.
MSN Product Manager Karen Redetzki said the pilot is the first phase of testing on the new ad-supported services Microsoft touted last November. "We basically went out, and put a stake in the ground and said Microsoft is going to be doing more with our software services online," she said.
At the time, Eric Hadley, MSN's senior director of advertising and marketing, told OnlineMediaDaily: "Given the fact that the market's booming, the media's booming--the opportunity to take ad-funded software live around the company is going to be a great experience."
Future rollouts will bring the ads to more markets, and add better targeting, including contextual targeting, Redetzki said. "It opens the door for advertisers to connect with more consumers across Microsoft products and services," she said. "These are untapped areas."
Advertisers in the pilot include Monster Worldwide Inc., American Express, Dell and Sprint Nextel on Microsoft Office Live; and Coca-Cola Brazil, Verizon DSL, Discover Card Services, JCPenney, P&G, and Nestle on Windows Live Mail. Microsoft did not provide information on the advertisers with MSN Spaces. However, Kanoodle--which MSN contracted to provide contextual text ads--will remain on the Spaces pages of members who opted-in, she said, while the ads sold for the pilot will appear regardless of the users' preferences.
Redetzki declined to provide a timetable on the rollouts of more targeting controls, or ads in other markets, but said they would take place later this year.
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Two-Thirds of US Web Users Now on Broadband

Two-Thirds of US Web Users Now On Broadband

MARCH 16, 2006

A recent Comcast television commercial for its broadband services shows two turtles discussing the attributes of dial-up. These creatures may soon be the only non-broadband users left.

According to Nielsen//NetRatings, the number of active US broadband users from home increased by 28% last year, rising from 74.3 million in February 2005 to 95.5 million in February 2006.

While overall Internet penetration in the US has stabilized over the past few years, reaching 74% of households in February 2006, broadband penetration has risen steadily over the past four years.

From February 2003 to February 2004, US broadband users as a percentage of Internet users grew by 12 percentage points, and in February 2005 it increased another 10 percentage points. This year broadband users as a proportion of all Internet users increased an impressive 13 percentage points over the previous February, as 68% of all US Internet users reportedly connected via broadband.


As broadband penetration increases, so does the average time users spent on their PCs. That's because with faster connections users are devoting more time to online photos, audio and video sites — which previous required slow downloads. Since February 2003, the average PC time per person among active Web users has increased approximately five hours from 25.5 hours a month to 30.5 hours a month.

"The correlated growth in average PC time per person is the result of broadband users' greater satisfaction with their online experience," said Jon Gibs of Nielsen//NetRatings. "The 'always on' nature of a broadband connection allows the Internet to become more entrenched in consumers' lives."

With increased broadband penetration, Nielsen//NetRatings reports a growing trend toward accessing streaming media online at video sharing sites.

MSN Video garnered 9.3 million unique visitors in February 2006, growing 44% over the previous year. YouTube and Google Video grew from relative obscurity to substantial players, and iFilm and Yahoo's video search saw triple digit year-over-year growth.


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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

American Diabetes Association launches online risk assessment

American Diabetes Association launches online risk assessment

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) is encouraging Americans to visit its Web site and take the Diabetes Risk Test. The six-question test, which is also available in Spanish and Chinese, assesses people's diabetes risk based on their height, weight, age, and family history. Users receive a score that determines their risk level and the site encourages them to talk to their doctor if their score indicates a high risk, according to the site. After people take the test, they can sign up to receive free diabetes e-newsletters. Site visitors can also use Diabetes PHD (Personal Health Decisions), a more detailed risk assessment tool that uses information such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels to measure risk. According to the ADA, 20.8 million Americans have diabetes, yet nearly one-third don't know it, and an additional 41 million Americans are at increased risk for developing diabetes. Go to the site to see the risk test. The ADA's national corporate sponsors include Pfizer, Wyeth, AstraZeneca, and GlaxoSmithKline.


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Cnet Using RSS Feeds Inside Ad Units

Cnet Using RSS Feeds Inside Ad Units
Cnet Networks has started running ad units embedded with Really Simple Syndication feeds, allowing advertisers to display real-time information to Web users. E! Entertainment television is the first advertiser to use the tool, which Cnet says it will make available for all Interactive Advertising Bureau ad units on 15 of the Web sites in its network. E!'s ad reads "What do you want to know about Hollywood?" and then displays headlines on a ticker at the bottom of the ad. Users can click on the actual stories that scroll across the bottom, which opens a new window to the story on E! Online. Cnet claims RSS-embedded ads allow advertisers to optimize their ad campaigns in real time at much lower production costs, and expects more marketers to use the tool to promote their RSS feeds. For example, a Cnet marketing executive said a food manufacturer might use the RSS feeds to highlight a new recipe every day, or an apparel company might use it to highlight seasonal fashions. The use of RSS in ad units could become a serious marketing trend: Reuters has used RSS feeds to place news headlines inside Diet Coke ads, and British Airways used RSS feeds to keep price quotes in ads fresh

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Major Marketers Turn To NYU Students For Minimovies

Major Marketers Turn To NYU Students For Minimovies

Marketers are turning to an unlikely source to create and produce minimovies for their products that will be viewed on the Internet and other emerging media outlets: students at New York University. The list includes major marketers like Ford Motor, Verizon, Heineken, and Unilever, which recently commissioned the students to create a film for its Axe deodorant and body spray. Part of an NYU program called ProMotion Pictures, students includes those attending the school's Kanbar Institute of Film & Television as well as M.B.A. candidates from the Stern School of Business. The Kanbar kids handle screenwriting and directing, while the budding M.B.A.s act as producers, ensuring that the production is completed on time and on budget. "It's been an uphill battle to convince entertainment companies about the value of an M.B.A. degree, but this kind of practical student experience gets their attention," says first-year M.B.A. student Jonas Greenberg. "It's good for the film students, too, because they're exposed to the business side of projects that may seem like a necessary evil but that they'll have to deal with at the studios."

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Next In Online Videos: We Interrupt Program For A Brief Message

Next In Online Videos: We Interrupt Program For A Brief Message

Please click here.THE CAR SPEEDS TO THE designated address, squeals into the parking lot, and "24"'s hero, Jack Bauer, might just make it, except... they've got the drop on him, guns drawn. If he doesn't pull off a miraculous escape, he's done for. At this moment, when we're most attentive, dying to see what comes next, fully prepared for a moment that will bring emotional fulfillment and relief from tension, a high-paying advertiser pitches its product.

If you've been keeping up with recent news and announcements about in-stream video advertising, you know that pre-roll ads get all of the attention. For just a minute, I'd like to discuss the overlooked mid-roll ad format. It's not such a radical concept. I'd say it's been pretty successful in that other medium, TV.

Lean Back With the proliferation of broadband comes an evolution toward long-form content that lends itself to a "lean-back" viewing experience as opposed to the "lean in" method for watching short clips on a computer. As users view more Web-based video content on larger screens, via set-top boxes, and on mobile devices, we'll start to see an explosion of long-form content.

The problem with publishing long-form content online is the cost (encoding, licensing, hosting, etc.). With current advertising rates, a pre-roll ad simply won't cover those costs. However, with several mid-roll ads inserted at relevant points within the content, publishers can cover their costs and even generate a profit. There is a ton of long-form content out there that many publishers and content owners have been waiting to monetize. With the development of intelligent mid-roll ad insertion technologies and demand from advertisers, we will begin to see more and more of it come online.

Location, Location, Location As more long-form content comes online, it will help alleviate the biggest problem currently facing online advertisers: inventory. And this new ad real estate is likely more valuable than its pre-roll counterpart. A user viewing a mid-roll ad has committed to watching the content and is captive and engaged, so completion rates are higher. Mid-roll ads also offer enhanced targeting possibilities such as sequential ads within a single piece of content or ads inserted near segments of content that closely relate to an advertiser's product.

Users will be accepting of these in-stream ad insertions because, after all, it most closely resembles the traditional TV format. Given a choice between pay-per-view and ads, users prefer ads by almost three to one.

I'm excited to see how the mid-roll ad format evolves as the online video landscape matures. By the time we're all watching Jack Bauer's escape on our laptops and cell phones, it's more than likely that the terms "pre-roll," "mid-roll," and "post-roll" will start to disappear and be replaced by a more universal ad name that would cover all formats and all viewing devices. Maybe even something crazy, like "commercials."

Please click here.

Jason Glickman is an Internet advertising veteran with expertise in emerging interactive technologies. He is co-founder and CEO of Tremor Network, Inc.





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As Internet TV Aims at Niche Audiences, the Slivercast Is Born

As Internet TV Aims at Niche Audiences, the Slivercast Is Born


ANDY STEWARD, a successful London computer consultant and sailboat racer, became exasperated when trying to watch his favorite sport on television. There were a few half-hour recaps of some major sailing races, but they were always shown late at night.

Mr. Steward looked into creating a sailing channel on the Sky satellite service in Britain, but his idea was soon dead in the water. He would have had to pay £85,000 (nearly $150,000) to start the channel and £40,000 a month (nearly $70,000), as well as the production costs. That was a lot of money for an untested concept.

But in January, he did introduce a sailing channel, one that is rapidly filling with sailing talk shows, product reviews, programs on sailing techniques and, most important, intense coverage of the sort of smaller races that don't make it onto traditional television.

His new channel, however, will not be available over the air. And it won't be found on cable or even on satellite, at least not yet. The channel, called, is broadcast only on the Internet, which enables video to reach a much larger worldwide audience at a much lower initial cost than a satellite channel. Because "we didn't have any idea how big the audience would be," Mr. Steward said, he wanted to keep his expenses as low as possible. "Internet television is an investment we can grow into," he said.

In the last six months, major media companies have received much attention for starting to move their own programming online, whether downloads for video iPods or streaming programs that can be watched over high-speed Internet connections.

Perhaps more interesting — and, arguably, more important — are the thousands of producers whose programming would never make it into prime time but who have very dedicated small audiences. It's a phenomenon that could be called slivercasting.

In 2004, Wired magazine popularized the phrase "the long tail" to refer to the large number of specialized offerings that in themselves appeal to a small number of people, but cumulatively represent a large market that can be easily aggregated on the Internet. Plotted on a graph along with best sellers, these specialized products trail off like a long tail that never reaches zero.

Indeed, the Internet's ability to offer an almost infinite selection is part of what makes it so appealing: people can find things that don't sell well enough to warrant shelf space in a neighborhood music store or video rental shop — think of the obscure books on The ease of digital video production and the ubiquity of high-speed Internet connections are sending the long tail of video into the living rooms of the world, live and in color.

"The next wave of media is to unleash the power of serving people's special interests," said John Hendricks, the chief executive of Discovery Communications, which is developing a series of specialized video services. "Every time I walk into a Borders bookstore, I spend a lot of time looking at the magazine rack — because staring at you are all the passions of America. The bride who is about to get married, there is a magazine for her. And for the person who is a little older, there are wonderful travel and leisure magazines."

Already, there are specialized video services serving hundreds of specialties, including poker, bicycling, lacrosse, photography, vegetarian cooking, fine wine, horror films, obscure sitcoms and Japanese anime. There is also a growing market for Webcasts of local news and entertainment from every country and in every language, aimed at expatriates.

"We're adding two or three new channels a week," said Iolo Jones, the chief executive of NarrowStep, a company in London that provides technology and support for specialized Webcasts. Among his clients is, which says it attracted 70,000 viewers in its first month.

NEARLY 15 years ago, when the advent of digital cable offered the possibility of 500 channels, many people were skeptical that there would be enough programs to fill them. But then came specialized broadcasters — including the Speed Channel (for auto racing fans), the Military Channel and Home and Garden Television — and now cable and satellite systems are largely full.

"It has become almost impossible for a channel to increase its distribution the old way," said Lauren Zalaznick, the president of Bravo and Trio, two cable channels owned by NBC Universal. "To get distribution it takes a lot of effort and negotiation. You have to give up a lot to get very little."

Indeed, after DirecTV dropped Trio, a channel devoted to pop culture, among other things, Ms. Zalaznick decided to move it from pay-TV systems to the Internet. "To survive we had to find a new way," she said. The new way, she quickly realized, could also help Trio resolve its identity crisis. The cable channel mixed documentaries about pop culture, original music programming, reruns of obscure television shows and a fair bit of programming aimed at gay and lesbian viewers.

Moving to the Internet allowed her to break Trio into three distinct sites; they will be introduced over the rest of this year. One, called, will have the music and pop culture programming. Another,, will have the old TV shows. And the third,, will have gay and lesbian programming created in conjunction with PlanetOut, a media and entertainment company focused on that audience.

Other big media companies are also creating narrower Internet extensions of their channels. Scripps Networks, which runs the HGTV network, for example, created HGTVPro, with programming aimed at contractors and builders.

Discovery Communications, which has been a master of the current system, creating 15 different cable channels including Animal Planet and Discovery Health, is now exploring even more specialized services over the Internet. One will be introduced tomorrow for $9.95 a month. It will offer 30,000 video clips excerpted from its library of documentaries and other educational programs to help grade school and high school students with their homework. In the future, other services will offer content focused on narrow topics in travel, science and health.

Discovery, Mr. Hendricks says, is in a good position to create such services because of its large archive. "We have a wealth of programming just related to cancer, just related to Alaska and so on," he said.

In addition to offering Internet distribution, Discovery will start to broadcast some of these programs late at night on its regular channels and encourage people to record them, he said.

To be sure, there are doubters. "I've never been a believer that we should create channels for all these niches like beach volleyball," said John Skipper, a senior vice president of ESPN, a unit of the Walt Disney Company. "They just don't pencil out. Because if you have 12,000 people, you can't afford to do it. And if you can't afford to do it, you can't make any money on it."

One reason that ESPN has shied away from this sort of niche programming, he said, is that its brand stands for a level of high-quality visual production that would be difficult for small channels to afford. Indeed, ESPN has been investing millions of dollars to produce programs in high-definition formats.

But reticence by some big media companies is making room for independent programmers to explore all sorts of niches.

Marie Oser, a vegetarian cooking writer and food promoter, has been creating television programs for cable networks for several years. She is now working on developing a site,, which features 160 clips, mainly cooking demonstrations, as well as coverage of events like the Tofu Festival in Los Angeles and interviews about vegetarianism with celebrities including Jane Goodall and Daryl Hannah. The most popular viewing times, perhaps not surprisingly, are at lunch time and just before dinner.

Viewers call up about 1,000 videos each day, Ms. Oser said. "That's not huge," she said, "but it's growing." She makes money promoting her books, the food products she creates and the products of paying sponsors.

She offers her video by way of the Roo Group, a New York company that handles the technology for storing and sending the video to users; it also sells advertising on behalf of VegTV and a stable of other specialized sites. In the past, Roo has brought American Express, Honda and other national advertisers to Ms. Oser's site, although no major campaigns are running now. Roo also provides links to her programming from some other sites it works with, including, the site of WPLG, a Miami television station, which supplements clips from its local news with additional video from Roo.

Another Roo-based slivercaster is Yuks TV (, started by Dailey Pike, a Los Angeles comedian who earns most of his money these days warming up studio audiences for sitcoms. Mr. Pike said he was outraged when he saw a Comedy Central poll asking viewers to rate the 100 best comedians of all time. "Bob Hope was well below Bill Maher," he said.

He decided to create programming around clips from classic comedy television shows that have fallen into the public domain, including routines by Jack Benny, Red Skelton and George Burns with Gracie Allen. Mr. Pike also has some exuberant classic commercials, like ones featuring the dancing Lucky Strike cigarettes and the skydiver who delivered a can of Colt 45.

At first, he, too, made a program for late-night cable television, but in 2004 he switched to the Internet. The site has had as many as 200,000 visitors in a month, he said, but only if he buys advertising to attract them. "I can't make enough money to cover my costs at this point," he said. But he hopes that this will change, he said, as Roo builds up its advertising sales prowess.

Robert Petty, Roo's chief executive, has been trying to build an Internet broadcast system for years, but the idea has attracted attention only recently. "In the last few weeks, we've had a lot of people in saying they want to build out five TV stations for broadband," said Mr. Petty, a former executive at Telstra, the Australian telephone company. "We went for a lot of years without any attention at all. We're really enjoying it now."

He added that viewers were quickly warming up to Internet video. "Now we are talking about three- to five-minute videos," he said, "but there's no question that in a year's time we are talking about 22-minute to one-hour videos." Roo works with 100 sites, which show 40 million videos a month, Mr. Petty said.

While advertising on small video sites has been sporadic so far, many companies, including Roo and NarrowStep, say they see an opportunity to match video commercials to specialized audiences, as Google does with Internet searches and Web pages.

"The real analogy here is not with television but with magazine publishing," said Mr. Jones of NarrowStep. "Narrow publications can get very high rates."

In any case, companies that have thrived largely by selling specialized DVD's, often through obscure mail-order dealers, are now turning to the Internet as well. One company, Brain Damage Films, which produces and distributes horror films too obscure to show in theaters, has started renting its movies through Akimbo, a service that uses the Internet to distribute video programming. (Brain Damage's biggest hit so far has been "Death Factory," which involves an accident in a chemical plant and a worker who starts to mutate.) Akimbo can send programs either to a specialized set-top box that it sells for $69 or to a PC with Microsoft Media Center software.

Darrin G. Ramage, the chief executive of Maxim Media Marketing, which runs Brain Damage, says the company has no choice but to move to online distribution. "The bottom line is that for independent horror movie fans — people from 18 to 25 — the Internet is where they are," he said. "Anything they want to know about, they go on the Internet. If they want a movie, they go on the Internet."

Online distribution now accounts for 10 percent of Brain Damage's revenue, he said, and the company plans to start selling downloadable versions of its films directly from its Web site.

Kostas Metaxas is also shifting his video production online, although he serves an older audience more interested in diamonds than blood. Mr. Metaxas runs Exero, an Australian company that produces interviews with jewelers, fashion designers, chefs and others who cater to the preoccupations of the rich. "It's eyeball candy, basically," he explained.

He has accumulated 500 such interviews and packaged them for cable networks, DVD sales and in-flight viewing on Malaysia Airlines. Exero, too, is now finding a new audience through Akimbo, offering some programs free and selling others.

Instructional videos are also becoming available on the Web. TotalVid, which is owned by Landmark Communications, the parent of the Weather Channel, offers 2,300 programs for download, many of them videos teaching everything from how to play a guitar to the best techniques in tae kwon do. "There is a huge group of men who aspire to do martial arts," said Karl B. Quist, TotalVid's president. "They are not going to take lessons at a dojo, but they will watch a 60-minute video."

Viewers can pay for limited-time access to individual TotalVid programs, which include videos on extreme sports, music, parenting and travel, or they can pay $9.95 a month for a subscription that allows unlimited viewing of its films.

"I offered to help my son's basketball team, and I wound up as head coach," said Michael Katz, a marketing consultant in Hopkinton, Mass. A friend recommended TotalVid, and Mr. Katz used it to find a 45-minute video about how to coach youth basketball.

"The production quality wasn't great, but I could actually see the demonstrations of how to do the drills," he said, boasting that his team finished third in its league.

Looming over all of the smaller companies that distribute specialized video is the question of Google's ultimate role. Google's early video service was criticized as hard to use, but it is nonetheless attracting a lot of programming from major networks as well as independents — and of course, it has a huge traffic flow that no independent site can match. Google allows programmers to offer video free, to rent it or to sell copies that viewers download to their computers; Google gets a commission for videos that are sold and rented. Eventually, it plans to sell advertising on some videos as well, sharing the revenue with the producers.

Mr. Quist, for one, says he plans to deal with Google as a partner rather than as a competitor by making much of the TotalVid's accumulated content available for rent through Google Video. Some producers who license programs to TotalVid can cut out the middleman, of course, and deal with Google directly. Mr. Quist said he hoped to help these producers market their programming on Google as well as on Apple's iTunes and other online video stores.

Among the niche audiences that are considered both large and attractive to Internet broadcasters are immigrants and expatriates seeking news and entertainment from their home countries. But arranging cross-border deals, especially those in less-developed countries, can be difficult, complex and sometimes harrowing.

Kaleil Isaza Tuzman was reminded of this last month when someone stole his watch while he was taking a shower in a shared bathroom at his hotel in Khartoum, Sudan. Still, Mr. Tuzman said he considered the trip a success because he was able to secure the rights to broadcast Sudan TV, the national television station, on JumpTV, the company he runs.

JumpTV, which is based in Toronto, has evolved into a service that offers live Internet transmission of television station broadcasts from more than 60 countries to expatriates around the world. Among its channels are VTV4 from Vietnam, Channel 10 from Greece, Amazon Sat from Brazil and, perhaps most notably, the original Arabic-language version of Al Jazeera, the news channel based in Qatar.

This service has made a great difference to Joe Wityk, 83, of Calgary, an immigrant from Ukraine.

His son, Steve Wityk, said, "My dad has been bugging me for 20 years to get TV from the Ukraine." The younger Mr. Wityk did not want to buy a receiver to get the specialized satellite channels, which could have cost as much as $1,000, he said. So he was delighted to find that he could subscribe to TV5 from Ukraine through JumpTV. He installed an inexpensive computer in his home that he connected through a hole he drilled in his ceiling to the television set of his father, who lives above him.

"He had subscribed to Ukrainian newsletters but by the time the news got to him it was old," the son said. "The TV is much better."

MR. TUZMAN travels the world to manage relationships with television stations and oversee construction of the global network of satellite receivers and Internet servers needed to operate the system. He declined to say how many subscribers he had, but each typically pays $9.95 a month for a single channel, or up to $26 a month for a package of related channels.

Mr. Tuzman — a founder of during the dot-com boom, allowing people to pay parking tickets and otherwise deal online with local governments — faces competition from cable and satellite services. That is especially the case in the United States, where there is already much programming for the largest ethnic groups. So he focuses on smaller groups.

"The Bengali community in the U.S. is not the size of Dominicans'," he said. "But guess what? They can't watch Bengali TV anywhere else." Moreover, the audience for the Internet is worldwide.

"If you are a Mexican in North America, you are much better served by cable and satellite than if you are a Moroccan in Europe," he said. "Our company is a very exciting company because we aggregate a lot of different audiences, but any one of those audiences is a very small niche."


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Report: 80% of advertisers now using Internet

Report: 80% of advertisers now using Internet

Despite the buzz about blog and wireless marketing, such advertising represents less than 2% of online ad budgets, according to a survey from research company Outsell. However, blogs could grow 43% and wireless 19% this year. The online channel as a whole is growing, with 80% of advertisers now using it. That number is expected to reach 90% by 2008, according to Outsell. Advertisers allocated 18.2% of their online budgets to the Internet in 2006, compared to 16.2% in 2005. Search ad spending is also set to grow 26% this year and total online marketing spending will grow 19%, predicts Outsell. Although offline channels still make up more of advertisers' marketing budgets, their growth will not match that of the Internet. Outsell says print advertising will grow 3.3% this year and TV/radio will grow only 2.4%. A report last month from Outsell showed that most advertisers think advertising on Google will bring better results than ads on other search engines.


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Caregivers heavily influenced by drug information found online

Caregivers heavily influenced by drug information found online

The members of the caregiver segment--those who routinely care for someone else--are twice as likely to ask physicians for a specific drug as noncaregivers and are influenced by information they find online and through word of mouth, reports Datamonitor. "Caregivers are a more practical group, looking for health information online for themselves and for other people," says Markella Kordoyanni, Datamonitor analyst and author of Maximizing eHealth Tools for Caregivers: Cultivating Long-Term Relationships. Although often pressed for time, caregivers still spend as much time online looking for health information as other noncaregivers do. Kordoyanni says this suggests that caregivers navigate very quickly through sites, and she recommends that pharma design its drug and disease sites--especially those for chronic illnesses--with this in mind. "A site designed for caregivers should be personable and contain elements that will entice the viewer to stay on longer or return frequently," she says. Kordoyanni tells ePharm5 that this report would be helpful to a marketer in Big Pharma whose pipeline consists of treatments for chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and other geriatric diseases. The report chronicles what caregivers prefer when it comes to disease management tools and clinical trial and product Web sites.


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Wyeth and Amgen launch unbranded psoriasis site for Enbrel

Wyeth and Amgen launch unbranded psoriasis site for Enbrel

Amgen and Wyeth are sponsoring a new unbranded campaign called Psoriasis Connections for the drug Enbrel. The campaign's Web site features articles about the condition and a resource library linking users to dozens of medical, educational, and support organizations and clinical trials sites. The site also reviews treatment options and links to the Enbrel Web site by inviting users to learn about "a different way to treat psoriasis." Other sections of the site give health and style tips that relate to the condition, such as hair care and nutrition, and tips for living with psoriasis from real patients with the condition. The site has an advisory panel of nine physicians and a glossary of terms. Users can also sign up to join the Psoriasis Connections program, in which they'll receive a free subscription to a quarterly magazine, mailings about psoriasis and its treatments, announcements from Amgen and Wyeth, and e-mail updates with psoriasis news, according to the site.






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Vendors create ways for pharma to engage in blogs without risk

Vendors create ways for pharma to engage in blogs without risk


User-generated content

While the concept of blogging scares the pants off pharma marketers and their lawyers, participating in user-generated content (UGC) from a vendor point of view is a no-brainer. At the recent CBI e-marketing conference held in Philadelphia, more than five vendors gave convincing pitches for UGC during a panel discussion, and the only skeptics left in the room when they were done were Pfizer's privacy officer who was also on the panel, and the more than a dozen attendees from pharma--and their attorneys.

What's not to like about UGC?

In theory, it seems to make sense for pharma to be engaging in UGC, which is content created, circulated, shared, and used online by consumers with the purpose of educating others. According to Paul Ivans, the moderator of the panel and CEO of Evolution Road Consulting, there are more than 1.2 billion posts of UGC per year and the volume grows 30% annually. There are 20,000 to 35,000 blogs created every day, and more than 41 million U.S. adults participating in UGC.

That's a large number of people exchanging information with each other that pharma could tap into, especially since a large portion of those 41 million are discussing health issues. Lydia Worthington, director of research at Buzzmetrics, has been working with the industry in reviewing the UGC space for more than three years and said, "No category is more impacted by UGC than pharma and health."

Worthington told ePharm5 the impact comes from people being incredibly passionate when they talk about their health online. "The conversations are much deeper, more involved, longer term, more frequent, and more informed than any other category," she said. Another important factor is that online, patients will ask the 'door handle' question--the question that usually comes up when they are half-way out the doctor's office with their hand on the door handle and the doctor asks, 'anything else?' "This question is often the most important one, but also the one that people are hesitant to ask," she said.

Consumers sharing information with other consumers are highly influential, a Buzzmetrics' study shows. Nearly 100% of those surveyed trusted recommendations from other consumers completely, a significant increase over brand Web sites, opt-in e-mails, and media advertising, which they reported as trusting "somewhat."

Not only does UGC create more interaction from more trusted sources, but the average consumer is now responsible for creating significantly more content through UGC and blogging tools. "The lines between traditional content and UGC content are quickly blurring and that is not a problem," said Mark Bard, president of Manhattan Research. The increased interaction can be beneficial in building online communities, an important pharma marketing tool.

Bard said the market segment engaging in UGC is valuable to pharma, because studies show that members of this segment are people who:
• are more likely to have someone with a chronic condition living in the home
• are more likely to investigate options for treatment of a disease
• are more likely to request a branded prescription from a doctor
• who share online health information with others (nearly 75%)

Worthington said that in Buzzmetrics' review of UGC sites and blogs, consumers often post that they wish pharma was listening to them. She said consumers would encourage pharma to blog, as long as the pharma identifies itself during the communication. Worthington said many bloggers state, "If only the powers that be could hear me."

John Mack, publisher of Pharma Marketing News and a blogger, contributed to the panel discussion by saying that based on his personal experience, bloggers want to be heard and they want a response. So, despite the "listening is liability" concerns by lawyers, the risk of not listening is even greater, said Worthington. She told ePharm5 that online, patients and caregivers talk about everything that is happening to them when they are taking a prescription or OTC drug. In some ways this is the best kind of early warning system and can identify any potential adverse events well before they show up via call centers or doctor's offices, she said. Also, by reviewing UGC, pharma is able to monitor how patients are using the drug, if they are following adherence programs, using proper dosing, and the like.

How can pharma use UGC?

After the conference, Bard told ePharm5 that although UGC works in theory, it does not necessarily work in reality for pharma. Although pharma must be aware and knowledgeable of UGC for regulatory reasons, the vast majority of companies are not able to own the tools, produce content, or have direct access to what is being discussed, he told ePharm5.

For example, if someone mentions an adverse drug event on a site owned by a pharma company, the pharma is legally obligated to report it. No lawyer or privacy officer wants to create a system that must monitor potentially thousands of pages on a minute-by-minute basis. Therefore, brand teams are not allowed to build or offer UGC tools directly to consumers.

Michael Grishavy, senior product manager at Yahoo!, said a way around the risks of pharma-engaged UGC could be more stringent and clear privacy policies. "I think the compromise, if it is one, is for companies to have extremely clear privacy policies and practices, but to realize that the world of user content is in essence not much different than other methods of getting user input and feedback online," he told ePharm5. It would be crucial to keep the user name or ID of a blogger on a pharma site separate from actual names, cookies, and e-mail addresses, and that's where crystal clear privacy policies and messaging to consumers comes into play, he said.

Another answer is for a pharma to hire third parties to provide UGC opportunities to patient communities, such as Buzzmetrics. At Buzzmetrics, the research department uses software to monitor blogs and UGC for its pharma clients, and reports back what is being said about the pharma or its products. In an earlier interview with ePharm5, Worthington said her company researches what people are talking about regarding healthcare. Most of what it sees is patients talking to one another within an online community such as WebMD or iVillage Health. Worthington said that each pharma client sets the parameters of what the report will collect for data, and adverse drug events are never included in the final report created for the client. While recorded, the adverse drug events are stored within Buzzmetrics' database and not shared with clients.

"We collect the data, analyze it, and feed it back to the pharma," Worthington said. For example, if a pharma has released a new drug, it might ask Buzzmetrics to review what people are saying about it. Pharma can use the reports from Buzzmetrics to identify consumer opinion of "anything they are doing that they want to see from consumer point of view," such as evaluating Web site design, the effect of educational campaign efforts, or Part D implications, Worthington said.

This is definitely a viable approach to UGC for pharma, because it at least informs the company of what is going on out in the blogosphere. "Not knowing what is happening online in terms of UGC is no longer acceptable," said panel member Doug Levy, president of imc2. The pharma policy of "don't look, don't tell" regarding UGC is a "recipe for disaster," he said.

Once a pharma becomes aware of negative or incorrect information that is circulating in a blog, it should act immediately to correct it. Most participants in the UGC community want accurate information. Companies and people that ensure the accuracy of information posted online are highly valued, Levy said. "We advise our clients, often through KOLs, to review the most popular communities and correct any inaccurate information. That type of participation is appreciated by readers. In cases where the participant is a representative of a company, we strongly advise that they make that affiliation known as part of their posting."

Grishavy agreed. To succeed in the UGC world, you need to listen, manage, and act, he said. The main concern he hears from advertisers and marketers is that they don't appreciate negative comments about their brand or their drug. Grishavy said these are opportunities to correct perceptions and should not be left unanswered. With the growth of user content and the blogosphere, a pharma can now engage in a real dialogue with its consumers and with an open, two-way dialogue a company will have a much better chance of changing opinions. Bloggers respect an open, honest debate more than a controlled message, he said.

How UGC can help when the chips are down, or the importance of UGC communities during times of brand crisis.

During times of brand crisis, such as Merck's withdrawal of Vioxx, bloggers are extremely active online, exchanging updates and information with other consumers. A pharma's participation in UGC at this time can help correct misinformation and protect reputation if it is met head-on.

Grishavy recommended that every pharma have a methodology in place precrisis, so it can react quickly if one occurs. The first step is to continually review summary UGC content, perhaps through a third party. Second, the pharma must share these insights appropriately within the company and maintain medical/legal-approved operating procedures for participating in UGC, because the worst time to create a plan is in the midst of a crisis. Third, the pharma must be prepared to take action by sharing accurate information through the UGC communities.

"Companies are well-advised to realize that influential bloggers now significantly impact mainstream media. During a crisis in particular, they are likely to be either very helpful or vary harmful," Grishavy said.

In closing, Levy offered the following five tips that may make "med-regs more comfortable" with the UGC process:

  1. Participate in UGC communities by
    1. Directly using employees and agencies
    2. Indirectly by using KOLS
  2. Advertise on UGC communities
  3. Sponsor UGC leaders
  4. Leverage UGC leaders as viral marketing leaders
  5. Create UGC environment by asking a KOL to blog and keep that activity separate from brand and adverse drug event sites.




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