Alternative Media: TV's Targeted Comeback - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Alternative Media: TV's Targeted Comeback
Educational TV programming provides a new channel of information for disease sufferers.


Pharmaceutical Executive


Abbott Diabetes Care also works with dLife in support of its FreeStyle Flash blood-glucose monitor. Abbott sponsors a segment on the show called "Test! Don't Guess," in which the show's hosts and audience members test their blood sugar using the FreeStyle meter to stress the importance of frequent monitoring. Abbott also works with dLife to promote the Abbott Freedom Tour, a detailing effort that promotes both dLife and FreeStyle in physician waiting rooms. This partnership was part of Abbott's 2005 marketing effort—its first year working with dLife—and contributed to the six percent share growth experienced by the company that year.

More pharma companies are likely to gravitate to these alternative broadcast mediums as they look for other ways to communicate to consumers and offer a more complete risk/benefit message that simply can't be done in a 30-or 60-second DTC ad.

Patients Become Proactive

Marketers must look at disease sufferers as lifestyle marketing segments, much as they do NASCAR fans, gardeners, or golfers. These patients may be hungry for health information, but they also care about the way it is delivered to them.

To that end, new options are emerging that recognize where media and consumer medicine are converging. WebMD, for example, is moving toward deepening the content in each disease state and examining distribution of this electronic content beyond just the Web. These tactics are shaping up to allow companies to think vertically by disease state, not by medium, in order to target segments of patients. Ultimately, the goal is to give those who need the information an easily accessible, organized, and structured method to receive it.

Instead of pulling out of DTC in all of its broadcast forms, pharma advertisers and their agencies should consider these longer-form targeted channels and content options to inform audiences. Although that means leaving the comfort zone of 60-second ad spots for a brave new world of targeted and integrated programming, it certainly is the way forward for companies wishing to continue leveraging the beneficial aspects of television and empower a new age of health programming.

Howard Steinberg is founder and CEO of LifeMed Media. He can be reached at


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