A recent example is Pfizer's "My time to quit" campaign. On its website, in addition to medical information regarding smoking cessation, a link is provided to information about an available prescription treatment option. If the user selects the link, they are then taken to a website for Pfizer's branded smoking cessation agent, Chantix.Overall, spending for this ad type has fluctuated throughout the years, peaking at approximately $590 million in 2005, then gradually decreasing to $165 million in 2008 as overall direct-to-consumer (DTC) expenditures and the economy shrunk. In 2009, however, non-branded expenditures rose to $185 million and, according to a May Pharm Exec blog post, other research shows the popularity of web advertising is only increasing.
Desire for Information
In a December 2009 Pharm Exec article entitled "The New Four P's of Marketing," John Gardner, president and CEO of Integrative Logic, recognized the modern atmosphere and stated, "The key to success in this new marketing landscape is a shift from a pharmaceutical-driven, push-based model toward a pull-based model, where desire for information and education drives action on the part of consumers and medical professionals." He further recognized companies using non-branded websites to facilitate information exchange and consumer education.
The above trends led to the following overarching research question: Which is more effective from a consumer-attitudinal and behavioral-intention perspective—non-branded or branded DTC advertising? In this research, we compared non-branded to the more prevalent branded ads on the basis of attitudes, behavioral intentions and a predefined behavior of clicking "yes" on a hyperlink for more information.
The survey measured consumer involvement with the disease state/condition; attitude toward the ad; attitude toward the pharmaceutical company; attitude toward the pharmaceutical industry; behavioral intentions to seek more information, discuss with their physician, and ask for a prescription; and the predefined behavior measure (clicking 'yes' on the hyperlink) to be taken to more information about the medication or disease state/condition.
From a consumer attitude perspective, non-branded ads compared favorably to branded ads regardless of ad type (branded/non-branded), study group (allergy or OC), or demographic information (age, gender, and education). This suggests general consumer attitudes toward DTC advertising have stabilized and is consistent with other research in the area.