Wednesday, April 22, 2009

DTC National Wrap-Up

DTC National Wrap-Up
posted by Emily Downward on Apr 20, 2009

The second and last days of the DTC National Conference in D.C. went by in a blur with several great presentations and many interesting people to meet. I tweeted nonstop, which you can review @emilydownward.

Thursday included interesting presentations from Chris Schroeder at HealthCentral, John Gerzema, and a celebrity panel that included Jerry "the Beaver" Mathers, Deborah "Debbie" Gibson and former NFL champion Karl Nelson.

Schroeder talked about how people are looking for health information in more specific terms, for example, they're not looking for "jogging" but "jogging on trampoline vs street." And data from HealthCentral shows that people who are finding content by these long-tail searches are 3-5 times more likely to interact with the advertisements on those pages. Referring to the Obama experience of using digital in the campaign, he recommended marketers use verbs instead of nouns to drive action and to use mobile in a way that drives involvement and interaction with payoff for both sides.

The celebrity panel was focused on each celeb's personal experiences and their involvement in raising awareness about the conditions they've faced. Deborah Gibson talked about her history with anxiety and depression and how she has been passionate about sharing her story to erase the stigma of mental conditions and in hopes that others won't go through the suffering she went through. Jerry Mathers talked about diabetes and how many people don't know they have it. He put it succinctly when he said, "If you're more than 15 pounds overweight or if your waist is greater than 38 inches, you're at risk." Karl Nelson is a 20-year survivor of Hodgkin's, and he encouraged people who are diagnosed with cancer to approach it like training camp before the football season -- just something you have to go through to get back to your life.

Gerzema mentioned three interesting affects the economy has had on health: dental visits are up (presumably because more people are grinding their teeth), shark attacks are down (because people are staying at home rather than vacationing), and vasectomies are up (you can figure that one out). He said we're moving from a credit crisis to a confidence crisis, something that was evident in the data from Edelman's Trust Barometer.

On Friday, the conference was all abuzz about the FDA and the letters that had recently been issued to 14 pharma companies regarding search advertising. The day started with a presentation by Arnie Friede of the law firm McDermott Will & Emery and Ross Fetterolf from Ignite Health. As Friede said, the FDA has chosen to regulate through enforcement rather than guidelines. This is frustrating on many levels and can even be financially detrimental to companies who get letters, as Friede pointed out that warning letters can lead to class action suits and affect the company's reputation. Fetterolf summarized the content of the letters, and shared one slide that showed pharma's reputation in the public is just above that of the tobacco industry. Amazing that an industry that provides treatments that save lives is only marginally higher than an industry which creates a product that can kill.

The FDA was up next, and of course, their presentation was highly anticipated. Unfortunately, they did not provide any additional guidance on their policies towards social media, just reiterated that pharma should "follow the rules," referring to the DDMAC guidelines. They did acknowledge that the of submissions they are receiving for pre-clearance, internet submissions are the fastest growing. Their presentation reviewed many letters that had gone out to pharma in the past year, covering print and TV advertisements as well as those issued for online infractions, but very little time was spent discussing the most recent letters. Interestingly, they showed a print ad with diagrams of how the DDMAC guidelines apply. In the digital space, we're still waiting for that type of explanation.

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