Reach for the Radio - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Reach for the Radio
New XM Radio station puts physicians on call and on the airwaves


Pharmaceutical Executive


What benefits does satellite radio offer as compared with traditional radio?

From a benefits standpoint, I like to call this segmentation radio. I think it's extremely targeted. You have the ability to make a very unique and detailed sale to a very specific target audience. The people who opt in to listen to a channel on satellite radio or to stream it online do that because they want to, because they're interested in a specific subject matter, whether it's a channel that's designed around the medical profession or gardening. That's what's so unique from an advertiser or marketer standpoint: You know that you are reaching your audience very directly. I think it's very beneficial.

Are you in competition with traditional radio?

I kind of consider the two separate beasts, because I think the unique nature of satellite or subscription radio is really different. You're opting in. If anything, it's a lot more like the Internet, where someone has to click in and then click through the content, than traditional FM or AM radio. It's an easier way for doctors to access this information than going to a convention. We talk a lot about the fact that, currently, the sales forces for pharmaceutical companies are out there spending a lot of money—$200 plus—to knock on the door of a doctor's office and not even get past the receptionist.

Every CEO of all the major pharmas is talking about how the sales force model just isn't working anymore. This is a much more cost-efficient way to get an in-depth sale to the people who are writing prescriptions. And it's done on their terms: They can turn it on, turn it off, they can come back to programming because our programming airs on a 24/7 basis and rotates all week long.

What are the pros of advertising on satellite radio as opposed to terrestrial radio?

Advertising on satellite radio gives you the opportunity to reach the audience with the message exactly the way that you want to deliver it. One of the things that a lot of pharmas struggle with is that they can't get the drugs out as fast because they can't get enough participation in clinical trials, and this is a great way to educate and inform physicians as to the benefits of having a terminally ill or critically ill patient participate in a unique trial of some kind. That's the kind of message that you wouldn't deliver in mainstream radio.

Is advertising on a physician-oriented radio station considered DTC advertising, or is it considered professional advertising?

Technically, it is professional advertising. Some of the clients are making their own determination about how far they want to go with respect to the specific branded messaging. Some of their medical-regulation groups are more conservative than others about that. But from a technical standpoint, it is considered to be professional advertising. If you were to listen to the channel as a patient, unless you were really into science, you wouldn't be listening for very long.

But since consumers can listen to it, doesn't it make it a grey area?

Some of the customers do wrestle with that because nobody wants to get into hot water with respect to med-reg departments and things of that nature. But we've had a very positive response, even from FDA, which has been interested in putting some of its content on the channel.


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Source: Pharmaceutical Executive,
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