The quest: from merely measuring to improving in real time
Sjoquist went on to experiment with other methodologies, and around 2005 became quite impressed with a new approach developed
by Crossix, a startup founded by Asaf Evenhaim, focused on maximizing the effectiveness of marketing campaign budgets. "The
comScore/Evolution Road methodology was useful, but we struggled with measuring lead generation program. That's where Crossix
According to Evenhaim, "We have a fundamentally different way of looking at ROI. "For us, it's not so much about measuring
ROI, but improving ROI in real time."
"Crossix said I can get an early read on tendency to convert," said Sjoquist. "Over time conversion rate became more and more
accurate. It turned some patient relationship marketing programs from strongly negative to strongly positive. Everyone had
been buying the cheapest leads, but they never converted. By applying this approach we could buy based on leads that converted.
And that turned the whole thing around."
What if too good to be true—is true?
Sjoquist was experiencing some real, measurable success for major brands. Yet he too was baffled at the industry's resistance
to changing budget allocations based on clear evidence—evidence blessed by their own marketing analytics departments. "I think
there is a constant suspicion of new channels in the pharma industry," said Sjoquist. "And there is also this human tendency
to not believe something if it sounds too good to be true."
"If sales force does 1.5 or 2.0, they are happy," he continued. "If something comes in at 4:1 or 8:1 they find it hard to
believe and it shows up the other stuff."
Symphony's Ghosh came to a similar conclusion. "They are overspending on TV, absolutely. You'd be better off allocating some
portion of their budgets to online. But clients are risk-averse and they get push back from their agencies, so they continue
with the high TV spend."
Could it be that marketers were just refusing to believe "evidence-based marketing?" Was it a lack of knowledge, a lack of
courage, or something else entirely causing this seemingly irrational behavior?
To get another perspective, I turned to a pharma marketer for whom I have great respect. She has run major brands for several
large pharma companies and is highly regarded inside and outside her company. She prefers to remain anonymous.
"We are oriented internally to POA planning and many times we have built up internal systems/processes in the commercial space
that are really entrenched and hard to change," she said. "It's not that it's a lack of courage so much as that in addition
to courage, it takes Herculean strength and a strong advocate internally to bring change. These things generally take time.
They don't immediately happen and sometimes, even when they do, the benefits take a bit of time to manifest externally."
Perhaps enough time has passed; the resistance to evidence-based marketing is finally beginning to wear down.
"The first time I have a conversation with a company client, I have to sell the idea that digital is more effective," said
Bob Doyle, VP of consumer insights at IMS Health. "But the second time, they are coming back on their own. They're convinced."
Another expert who did not want to be quoted on the record shared this observation of current pharma marketing behavior: "For
our clients, they're getting better ROIs on digital than they are on offline stuff. For brands that do mass advertising, they
want to keep the TV budgets whole, but beyond that, digital is much better than print."