Friday, July 06, 2007

Planning DTC for 2008

Planning DTC for 2008

by  Bob Ehrlich, Chairman
DTC Perspectives, Inc.

We are entering the beginning of the 2008 planning process for most drug and medical device companies. Most of these plans will be finished by November but initial strategies and objectives are usually done by August.

It appears that no major regulation changes will affect anything in 2008. Congress will not impose any new moratorium on advertising. Some risk disclosure changes may be coming but not likely for 2008. So what are the major considerations for 2008?

I would encourage brand managers to look to experiment as much as possible with media selection and evaluation. While television will likely still dominate most plans, I would like to see more reviews on program selection and day part based upon effectiveness rather than on just reach and frequency. We have a lot of data available that can lead us to more detailed assessments on where television can have the greatest impact. For example, we should be looking at where viewers will most likely pay attention to a DTC ad. Is this in a medical show, news, drama, comedy, sports or other? Ratings alone do not give that.

For print, the same considerations apply. Not all magazines are read the same way. Some are quickly read; others are perused slowly and re-read. Mere demographics do not tell us that. I read my golf magazines over and over and see the same ads 5 or 6 times. I do not read other sports magazines the same way. Therefore it is worth asking your agencies to consider these factors in picking specific publications.

I also urge much greater experimentation in new media. We can argue about the speed of change in adopting new media but not that it will eventually be widespread. Drug companies are dealing largely with older, more traditional age groups, but they too are changing, albeit slower. Use of the Internet and other one on one media vehicles are here and DTC plans should reflect their growing impact.

It is also critical that DTC plans have one master. Gone are the days where we can split off planning by media type used. The use of different agencies and internal departments to plan television/print Internet, direct and Public Relations is not efficient. All media types need one decision maker to analyze the trade-offs and determine how to evaluate effectiveness. Too often no one person takes final responsibility for full integration of media strategies, objectives and evaluation of success. This one master must be fully conversant in all available media rather than be a mere coordinator of departmental inputs. This takes an experienced marketer who is not afraid to challenge agencies and internal managers on why they deserve budgets.

I fully expect 2008 to be another year of DTC budget increases. I also expect management will expect better analysis on success on media investment in these profit squeezed times for the drug industry.

Bob Ehrlich, Chairman
DTC Perspectives, Inc.

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