Alternative Media: Prime Time for Rich Media

Marketers can combine TV's impact with the web's resources
Nov 01, 2004

Larry Mickelberg
Picture this: A middle-aged man is running a marathon. He's pushing himself hard, straining every muscle. Sweat flows down his grimacing face. He's passing several competitors, including a few who appear younger. Feeling a mix of inspiration and envy, we ask ourselves: How does he do it? Then a voiceover tells us this man lives a full life thanks to his arthritis medication.

No magazine ad could convey that message as vividly as motion video. Yet pharma's traditional use of motion video—television commercials—has its limitations, too: Viewers remain passive observers who can't interact with the presentation of information.

Rich media websites engage customers by allowing them to interact with the sites content on a number of levels.
But advances in broadband technology are changing that. Pharma marketers can combine the impact of video with the on-demand interactivity of the web to engage and involve both consumers and professionals. It's called rich media, and it uses a variety of menus, links, and controls to engage viewers and encourage interactivity. That not only captures their attention, but also holds and directs it toward information-rich experiences and offers, in contexts ranging from promotion to education through compliance.

Did You Know?
New Opportunities The stuttering, stamp-size images once associated with internet video are a thing of the past. Broadband has closed the quality gap between TV and streaming video, and increasing numbers of people now have access to it. According to data from Nielsen/NetRatings, broadband connections reached 51 percent of US online households this past summer, and a May 2004 study by the Diffusion Group found that almost 45 percent of US dial-up households want to upgrade to broadband in the next 12 months. According to a Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMMS) survey, the numbers are even more compelling among healthcare professionals: A whopping 91 percent of US physician practices have broadband connections.

To preview rich media's potential impact, just look at the automobile industry. Eighty percent of new car purchases begin on the web. TV commercials for cars are now increasingly designed to drive traffic not to the showroom, but to the website, where video tours, detailed technical specs, and links to dealer sites can prompt an order or a visit to the car dealer. In model year 2004, DaimlerChrysler increased its internet spending 461 percent over 2003; Toyota upped its spend 109 percent, and Mitsubishi and Mazda raised it by 100 percent.

The Three When accessing information or entertainment, customers want to
According to Nielsen/NetRatings, online healthcare promotion is also growing. During the second quarter of 2004, industry spent 35 percent more than it did in the same period in 2003. It seems certain that in the next 12 months, pharma will continue to grow their online budgets as they increasingly use the web to market their products like automobile manufacturers.

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