"Rich media apps are going to become more and more important, because they tie to how people really learn," says Peter Espo.
"Not everyone learns from black and white text. We're going to see more video, more Flash, delivered in more compelling ways.
The days of having just an image and text on a Web page are over."
"I think rich media approaches are extremely under-utilized," agrees Shire's Harrell. "We have the ability to use Webcasts
from thought-leaders, patient testimonials, educational videos, and 3D animations. All of these techniques—if used properly—can
make the user's experience much richer."
One of the most significant trends developing within both branded and non-branded sites is the surfacing of rich media elements
to the home page. In the past, if a site contained a patient video, or a mechanism-of-action animation, it might be buried
three levels deep on the site. But marketers are now realizing that these assets should be prominently displayed on the home
page. "It's important that you quickly and effectively illustrate the value within the site," says Schneider of Forest Labs.
"From glancing at the home page, the visitor should get a good idea that this is a site with real value for me."
That said, there's a limit to how far pharmaceutical companies should go in using rich media. "The question for me is how
intrusive the rich media elements are and whether they are seen as useful—and not annoying—by our customers," says Harrell.
"Does it serve a particularly valuable purpose? For example, demonstrating an MOA or a patient testimonial is probably of
high value, but recycling the 30-second TV ad? Maybe not so much. The danger is people using it just because they can, not
because they are serving a particular marketing goal or user need. There needs to be some reason other than, 'Hey, that's
"From a consumer perspective," says Wyeth's McGovern, "the surge in broadband gives us the opportunity to better educate about
the condition, about various therapeutic options, and about compliance and persistence. It allows consumers to quickly find
the information and education they need."
5. INVESTMENT MEASUREMENT
IRONIC, ISN'T IT? The Internet is the most inherently measurable medium ever invented (it is, after all, all running on those ultimate measurement
machines called computers). Yet, e-business people are forever being asked "How do I prove my ROI?" Marketers have no reliable
way of measuring the ROI of their TV commercials or print ads, yet somehow these media seem to be held to a less rigorous
standard. Alas, being the new kid on the block, the Web has to prove itself again and again.
peter espo (former) biogen/idec
In response, plucky Internet experts have developed a number of techniques to demonstrate the value of their companies' Internet
investments. The most advanced method, known as PBM Matchback, measures the rise in prescriptions among a sample group of
Web site visitors. Here's how it works: Third-party companies track the online behavior of panelists who've agreed to have
their online activity monitored. Those panelists who've visited a brand site can then be tied to prescribing behavior by means
of a PBM match.
The panelist/PBM match technique can be quite effective, but it is also quite expensive. Studies can cost $100,000 or more,
and when pharmaceutical companies are spending sometimes only a few hundred thousand dollars on their Web initiatives, it
may be hard to justify investing six figures on measurement alone.
Besides, not everyone is convinced that such techniques are entirely reliable. Even with relatively large panels, the data
are meaningful only if the brand Web site is receiving relatively high traffic. "It's still difficult to get to that definitive
measurement point where you can say the site is driving X dollar volume to the brand," says Schneider.