Alternative Media: Prime Time for Rich Media - Pharmaceutical Executive


Alternative Media: Prime Time for Rich Media
Marketers can combine TV's impact with the web's resources

Pharmaceutical Executive

Build a Better Experience Rich media advertising enables viewers to take action they often don't take when watching TV. For example, viewers of a pharmaceutical DTC commercial aired during a football game may or may not take the time to visit the website or call the toll-free number. But by using graphics, voice, and music, rich media makes it easy for users to click a link to watch a patient testimonial, see an animated sequence on the mechanism of action, or print a coupon. And consumers end up taking that action because they become involved—and are therefore motivated to learn about complex health information, additional resources, or support services.

The educational opportunities inherent in rich media may be even more significant. Research has shown that people retain more when they use more than one sense. Rich media has the ability to engage not only the visual and aural learning centers, but also the parts of the brain required to interact and make choices. It's like the Chinese proverb: "Tell me, I forget. Show me, I remember. Involve me, I understand."

Online rich media also surpasses the information-delivery advantages of CD-ROM and DVD because it is less costly, more easily updated, and goes "deeper" by offering links.

"Webisodes" represent an interesting production option. These one- to three-minute (or longer) vignettes can deliver physician interviews, patient experiences, condition research, and prescription or lifestyle information in a series of related videos. Actual TV commercials can be embedded in these streams of video, allowing web users to view them in the context of learning about the treatment rather than as an interruption of their favorite sitcom.

Indeed, a pharmaceutical brand could conceivably become its own online network. An Effexor (venlafaxine), Levitra (vardenafil), or Crestor (rosuvastatin) "channel" could run programming on treatments, conditions, recipes, exercises, sports, lifestyles, and relationships in the same way that advertisers single-sponsored or owned programs in the pioneer days of television and radio.

Green Light Rich Media Given the favorable economics, audiences, and effectiveness of rich media, companies should consider developing rich media assets as soon as possible. That will require digitizing their existing video assets and creating new ones, as well as developing assets that give viewers the ability to control, condense, and combine (see "The Three Cs.").

It will also require some retooling of "old media" paradigms. For instance, most TV viewers will watch an informational video straight through, so it's safe to assume they will see the titles, introduction, and segment #2 before they view segment #3. But such assumptions don't hold on the web. Linear presentation must give way to nonlinear thinking and modular presentation when the viewer runs the show. The information that viewers really need must be built into the website architecture or into the rich media interface.

Once the logistics are in line, marketing teams should conduct pilot programs and start integrating rich content into all sponsored websites. As with any new technology, early adopters who meet their customers' content needs will quickly gain credibility and an enviable leadership position in this next frontier of competition online.

The data on high-speed broadband adoption clearly show that customers on the web want what they want when they want it. Smart pharmaceutical marketers will be moving—quickly—to give it to them with rich media.

Marc Weiner
Launches Manhattan Research, a healthcare marketing and services firm, launched, which gives visitors access to more than 100 market research reports on consumers and physicians in 30 therapeutic areas and 20 specialist segments. No subscription is required to search. Users pay only for the information they need. SureScripts, the largest network provider of electronic prescribing services, and Rx Linc, a secure network connecting pharmacies and insurers, are partnering to make e-prescribing available to community pharmacies in 45 states. Vision Integration Partners and Information Technology Partners (ITPI) have joined to launch, a web-based technology intended to improve communication between physicians and pharmaceutical companies that sponsor medical education events. The secure online environment gives physicians a way to find and register for events as well as lower pharma's administrative and marketing costs. The Pharma Solutions business unit of Walters Kluwer Health launched Adis Online (, a web portal designed to help clinicians and researchers stay current on the latest drug therapies. The site gives subscribers access to 50,000 searchable articles, including Adis' 33 drug-related journals and publications. An free electronic table of contents alert (eTOC) is available to visitors.

People CommonHealth, a WPP Group company, has named Marc Weiner president of Conectics, its research and media planning services unit, as well as Qi, its interactive services unit. Weiner began his career at CommonHealth 15 years ago. Prior to rejoining the company, he was president and CEO of Hyphen, an Omnicom company.


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