Friday, May 25, 2007

GSK allows consumers to experience alli via exhibit

GSK allows consumers to experience alli via exhibit

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is using a public multi-media exhibit in New York City to introduce the weight-loss drug, alli, which will be available in pharmacies and mass retailers around June 15. An online virtual tour of the exhibit is available at The exhibit, called the "alli Experience," is divided into five zones, and begins with a sensory tour that leads to an interactive journey and multi-media education about weight loss realities, such as if someone is ready to commit to a weight loss program. For example, in the third zone, participants can take a test to determine whether they are ready to make a true weight loss commitment or if they are still looking for a quick fix. In zone five, the campaign uses interactive kiosks to help participants find out what is holding them back from achieving their weight-loss goals.

Go to alli <>  to see the exhibit online.

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Avandia and Promoting Consumer Fear

Source: DTC Perspectives
Issue 262 May 25, 2007

Avandia and Promoting Consumer Fear

" Here is another useful drug accused of being dangerous."
-Bob Ehrlich

A New England Journal of Medicine story released this week, that said diabetes drug Avandia causes significantly more heart attacks than other oral diabetes treatments, is leading to the usual hysteria among patients. Stock analysts predict dire consequences for sales of Avandia and a negative effect on ratings for Glaxo stock. The media, in its desire for catchy story lead-ins, says a drug taken by millions is dangerous.

Congress is demanding investigations of how this drug was approved and monitored. Physicians are wondering what to tell patients who demand to be taken off Avandia. The public is wondering how such a drug can be on the market.

In my view, here is another useful drug accused of being dangerous in the unrealistic desire for risk free medications. Glaxo says the study is not accurate because it did not include all information submitted to FDA. I read the article published in the New England Journal. Let's assume for sake of discussion the study is accurate in reflecting risk. Of the 15,324 patients tested in clinical trials 39 people died versus 22 in the smaller control group. That is 17 additional deaths among 15,324 people. Certainly that is tragic for those 17 but is about 1 in a thousand odds among a very ill population. If you hear the story reported in the media you hear it as a 64% increase in heart attack risk with no other context.

If the media reported it as a 1 in a 1000 chance of death versus a 1 in 1600 chance of death it would not have the punch as making it appear so much more deadly. How many patients will pull themselves off Avandia or be afraid to take any diabetes drug because of this story? That reaction will be more harmful than continuing the drug. The media does a great disservice by not telling the real odds of a problem. Most diabetics taking Avandia are pretty sick. They need better control of blood sugar and most have tried other oral drugs. So if told they have a 1 in a 1000 chance of a fatal heart attack from Avandia; would that scare them? I doubt it because most are over 50 and have numerous other health problems, and if Avandia works well then they would probably accept that risk.

Americans expect and deserve real odds of risks and side effects when considering a drug. Drug makers have an obligation to honestly give them such facts in an understandable format. The media has a public duty to report side effects in an understandable way as well. They must provide context to medical journal articles. Instead most try to hype the issue to get viewers to watch or read the story. Many good drugs get this treatment and patients get scared beyond their wits. These are people who have enough problems without adding fear of medication to their misery.

It is possible Avandia users have safer alternatives and those should be explored. For some a switch to other available drugs may reduce risk with similar efficacy. For others Avandia is doing a great job controlling blood sugar and no alternative is better. Americans must expect risk when they take any drug. Side effects are a tragedy for those that get them, but getting them is not always the fault of the drug company. Properly warned, patients and their physicians need to weigh the risk and benefits of any drug. In some of those carefully considered cases, patients will still die because of a reaction to a drug intended to make them better. That has and always will be the case. Those deaths pale in comparison to lives saved. That part of the story gets lost because "greedy uncaring drug company" makes better copy. A shame indeed.

Bob Ehrlich, Chairman
DTC Perspectives, Inc.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Google's New SearchMash Test Site

Google's New SearchMash Test Site

Google's gained a new unbranded site called SearchMash where it plans to test user interface ideas without Google's brand somehow skewing the tests. Below, more about the site and comments from Google about it.

Currently, SearchMash allows you to perform a search and get web and image results presented side-by-side. It's similar to how A9 has long allowed side-by-side results, ironically a feature that A9 has made much harder to implement after a recent redesign over there.

Web results are presented in the main left-hand column after a search and seem ranked the same as at Google. Unlike Google, presentation is different. Results are numbered. Clicking on the URL line makes a box pop-up with options to:

  • open the listing in the current window
  • a new window
  • to see more pages from that web site
  • to find similar pages.

After the first ten results, there's a "more web pages" link at the bottom. Click on this, and you get another 10 results magically appearing on the same page, inserted below the first 10. You can keep going, adding 10 more results at a time.

It's pretty slick. Microsoft's Windows Live had a somewhat similar "infinite scroll" feature that allowed you to keep getting more and more results, as you went down the page. Unveiled in March, it was dropped in September for web results (it still works for image results) when Windows Live came out of beta, as Microsoft felt it slowed performance.

While A9 dropped so many features, "continuous scroll" is something it gained. Do a search there, and as you scroll down, more results keep magically appearing, 10 at a time.

Unique to SearchMash is the ability to drag-and-drop web search results. Click on the number next to any listing, and you can move that listing higher or lower in the search results. The number doesn't change after you move it. The feature also doesn't seem that useful. Far better would be a scratch pad-style feature such as Windows Live offers for image search. Being able to drag-and-drop web results into some type of collection area would be handy -- and it's something that Microsoft is promising.

Those are the features at the moment, which you can also find described on the site's features page. What you won't find is much about Google on the site. The About page doesn't mention them. You've got to go into the privacy page where you discover:

SearchMash is a website operated by Google Inc. The Google Privacy Policy describes how we treat personal information when you use our products and services, including information provided when you use SearchMash. In addition, the following describes our privacy practices that are specific to SearchMash.

So what's up with SearchMash. I fired some questions off to Google, and here's what I got:

Q. When did this go up from Google?

Very recently.

Q. Why are you doing it?

  • SearchMash is an experimental search site operated by Google. The goal of SearchMash is to test innovative user interfaces in order to continually improve the overall search experience for our users.
  • The site does not include Google branding to help us gather more objective data about user response to new interfaces.
  • There is no guarantee that the features tested on SearchMash will be seen on Google search. As with all of our experiments, one of the main factors we will consider is user response to the feature and how well it addresses their needs.
  • This site is only a test and has traffic limitations so may be unavailable at times.

Q. Why is it not on Google Labs?

Google Labs continues to be a great site for Google to launch new products that may not be ready for prime time yet, frequently and quickly. In this case, one of the important factors we wanted to address was the influence that may come from Google branding. Creating a separate site will help us gather more objective data about user response to new interfaces.

OK, next some follow-ups and speculation. First, how can a site that no one knows about be useful to Google? Pretty much no one heard of it until the past day. As best I can tell:

So the site's going to have plenty of visitors, but all the wrong type, people who are the influencers or tech-heads or early adopters that Google's not trying to test against.

Remember, Google's been doing a lot of testing over the past year or so. Barry Schwartz just noted yet another sidebar navigation experiment yesterday. The experiments became so frequent and much discussed that I was begging Google in March to provide more official notice about what they were doing. Google's response to me was that announcing the experiments would skew the results.

Still, with everyone watching them so closely, experiments were quickly noted by the blogging community. That may have helped Google decide in April to blog itself about how it tries to test things against small groups. It even illustrated some of its experiments.

Now SearchMash gives Google an experimental playground, one similar to how AllTheWeb is supposed to operate for Yahoo, though aside from LiveSearch being launched there in May, Yahoo's not done much with AllTheWeb.

Google can play with weird stuff at SearchMash without worrying about "normal" users having the Google brand set up expectations. But how do those normals (or "mundanes" for you Babylon 5 fans) get to the site? From Google:

We have various methods for driving traffic to search and UI experiments that we run but we don't share details regarding the methodology to help keep the results as objective as possible.

A couple of guesses here. Google is likely (or will be likely) to divert people to the site in various ways, such as perhaps if someone uses an AdSense For Search box on a content site. It might simply push some people trying to reach Google to SearchMash (perhaps with some interstitial page warning them beforehand). It also gives them a site to put before controlled focus groups, where they might not know Google is behind it.

What about the skewing that will happen now that early adopters and the Google-obsessed will be all over SearchMash? They can be filtered out. If Google is directing certain groups to the site in various ways, it can then filter studies of user behavior to just those groups.

OK, one last thing. What about the idea that SearchMash will be the new place for Google to allow people to create custom search engines of their own, similar to Yahoo Search Builder launched last month or the older Rollyo or Eurekster Swicki services?

Garett Rogers last week wondered if the IndexBench trademark Google applied for recently was a sign that Google was planning custom vertical search engines. Now he wonders if SearchMash will instead be the place for this, after Google Operating System highlighted a Time Magazine article confirm that Google plans this:

Marissa Mayer, who manages search products, says the company has assigned more engineers to search than ever before and plans to release a new search tool that will enable users to design and build their own flavor of Google search, scanning just the sites they're interested in.

So yes, custom vertical searches are coming, likely more substantial and customizable than the long-standing Site-Flavored Google Search that's been out since 2004 and recently upgraded this year. But Google wouldn't say if it will be on SearchMash or not. So wait, watch and see.

Finally, the feel of SearchMash to A9 in many ways is uncanny. As I noted in my Amazon's A9 Becomes, Well, Sort Of Nothing post earlier today, A9 was an experimental playground for Amazon that seems to have lost its way after it lost its CEO Udi Manber to Google. I haven't heard back from Google on whether Manber is now running SearchMash. But seeing the side-by-side results that were a hallmark of A9, plus the infinite scroll similar to what A9 just rolled out (and what may have been in the works before Manber left A9), it sure feels like he's running a new playground search engine -- this time for Google.


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Neutrogena to Launch Online Reality Show

Neutrogena to Launch Online Reality Show


Source: MarketingVOX


Neutrogena kicks off a new campaign that revolves around a proprietary online reality show called OneLessStress ( , reports PROMO Magazine.


The show follows three women in their twenties as they compete in seven stress-related challenges set in New York City. The show, which runs until the end of August, also features tips from experts and celebrity host Hayden Panettiere of NBC's Heroes.


The promo also includes a sweepstakes to win a trip to the Bahamas. People can enter by watching a webisode and answering three questions based on its events. The website offers additional features like a stress quiz and an online Zen garden.


Finally, women can enter a chance to star in the webisode by uploading a video describing how they deal with stress.


The move is one result of growing incorporation of audience input or contributions into entertainment produced by major brands. Other such examples include Vuguru's Prom Queen, which seeks amateur band inclusion for its soundtrack, and LonelyGirl15's KateModern, which incorporates audience suggestions into the show's plotline.


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Gen Y Reads More Print, Not Less, than Older Counterparts

Gen Y Reads More Print, Not Less, than Older Counterparts


gets you places Despite worries that tech-savvy Gen Yers are ditching print media for digital, research house McPheters & Co. finds that 19-34 year-olds are actually reading more consumer magazines than older consumers, reports MediaPost.


After reporting the results, McPheters assumed they were skewed due to a low sample. To ensure accuracy, the group checked a similar study conducted last year by across 8,400 pollsters. It confirmed that "adults in the 19-24 and 25-34 age groups reported that they read a larger number of both different magazine titles and specific magazine issues than their older counterparts," said company partner John McPheters of McPheters & Co.


"This evidence speaks directly to the growing concern that younger audiences are abandoning the hard-copy magazines for the Internet and other forms of media. It simply has not happened," he added.


MarketingCharts offers more data from the survey, including tables:



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'Silver Surfers' Dominate U.K. Internet

'Silver Surfers' Dominate U.K. Internet


Source: MarketingVOX


Internet users aged 55 and older are about to become the largest online demographic in the U.K, reports HitWise.


55+ online surfers now account for 22 percent of British Internet visits, up 40 percent over 2006.


This figure brings them right up behind the demographic leader, 35-44 year olds, which currently comprise 23.5 percent of visits.


Search engines and sites geared toward adults, shopping and classifieds are those most visited by the over-55 set. They also frequently visit news sites, travel sites and sites devoted to leisure pursuits, like cruises.


"Silver Surfers" account for 27 percent of visits to travel websites and 24 percent of visits to news sites. Cruise sites fared far better, though, getting almost half - 48 percent - of their traffic from newly minted seniors.


The seniors come from across the income spectrum, but larger income-holders, however, go online more often.


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Nearly half of asthma sufferers switch controller medications

Nearly half of asthma sufferers switch controller medications

Forty-three percent of asthma sufferers have switched controller medications, and of those, 23% have done so because they have heard about one that was better, reports a National Consumers League survey of 1,105 adult asthma sufferers and parents of sufferers. The study also found there is a disconnect between how asthma patients perceive their condition and how severe their symptoms really are. The survey showed that although 88% of patients say their asthma is moderate or mild, more than a quarter experience shortness of breath, coughing, or other symptoms at least once per week. When it comes to medication, respondents indicated that they sometimes take more of their fast-acting inhaler than prescribed, with 51% doing so because their prescribed dose took too long to work.

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