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Master the Yin and Yang of Rx Media Measurement in 4 Steps


Transform mundane media metrics into meaningful marketing insight

A classic 1981 commercial celebrates Reese’s unique marriage of “two great tastes that taste great together.” So does just the right balance of data and insights create a more satisfying monthly campaign report. Pharma product managers bemoan stale media analytics as reports fall short of delivering evidence that ad efforts create real brand value. Barriers to directly measuring ROI – patients’ reliance on an HCP for a prescription, HIIPA constraints on use of personal medical records, industry-wide privacy sensitivities and even FDA compliance barriers – leave a yawning gap between media metrics and high-value actions taken by patient and professional audiences.

Perhaps that’s why whiz-bang visual dashboards, multichannel attribution models, de-identified patient panels and correlation-based predictive models create such a buzz in pitches, dangling a ray of hope for a new silver bullet. Sadly, nary a brand has reported these shiny objects being the cure-all that kicks an otherwise lackluster campaign into high gear.

In practice, what drives standout performance is the strategic alignment between leading indicators – foundational media KPIs like cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM), clickthrough rate (CTR), and cost per conversion – and metrics that matter to brands, such as NRx lift, growth in adherence and even physician “honor rates” associated with specific patient medication requests.

The accumulated wisdom of over 80 digital media campaigns for Rx brands have ingrained in me a few ground rules that transform mundane media metrics into meaningful, actionable marketing insight:

  • Begin with the end in mind

The starting point for a media plan should be its KPI framework, and the starting point for the KPI framework should be the actions at the destination representing the most meaningful engagement with the brand’s core story. If it’s efficacy that will impress neurologists, where on the website is that communicated most effectively? Have charts and graphs displaying clinical results been tested against a patient story video? If so, each can be assigned an engagement score that feeds into a weighted monthly data and insights readout. Identify and set goals for those actions that deliver on the brand’s strategic objectives for each priority audience segment.

  • Destination location, location, location

With high-value actions identified, consider the likely paths your audience will take to find your site (a Google search for dosing, comparing safety profiles, visiting an online drug reference, reading about new clinical research in a professional journal, watching a KOL video) and map those to landing pages that help serve the information most relevant to the user’s likely intent. It’s essential to choose your landing pages before selecting media placements, developing keywords and writing ad copy. Too often landing pages are an afterthought and, alas, sometimes they’re not even a thought as ads default to home pages bereft of content relevant to the user’s query or referring source.

  • Define normative benchmarks

If you’re going to bother tracking CPM, CTR and copay conversions, do your homework and have the cojones to put a stake in the ground on normative averages. Use a cohort consisting of similar disease states in terms of prevalence, demographics and competition, and make sure reporting reflects performance relative to those benchmarks right out of the gate.

Which metrics to benchmark? Statistical realities dictate looking to the leading indicators, based on both accessibility and volume of such metrics. Third party research firms do a nice job collecting anonymous data sets in exchange for access to rolling norms. Do your homework and make sure the benchmark conversion metrics are truly comparable to those in your campaign. Conversion rates should be actively managed via dynamic testing to ensure user sessions triggered move as efficiently as possible to their intended destination – and benchmarks provide a backdrop of accountability against which to evaluate the variables.

  • Failure is your friend

Be ready to acknowledge disappointments and own them. One might well be the source of your game-changing “eureka” insight. If your plan is so templated and cautious that you take no risks, you’ll never know the outcome of what you didn’t do. Methodically push the envelope on targeting and messaging. Design an end-to-end digital user path with a KPI framework rich with business insights. Only when you can see the good, the bad and the ugly do you know the boundaries of success and the upper limits of ROI. You may also want to learn here about insight software that can be implemented to help your business with output and customers.

Following these principles requires close teamwork between the owners of brand strategy, content development, media planning, and reporting analytics. And if you’ve been missing that kind of teamwork and that gives you pause, consider adopting these principles to force the issue, and you’ve killed two birds with one stone.

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