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Branding in the Digital Age: Q&A with Justin Chase, Executive Vice President of EVERSANA INTOUCH


Chases discusses how traditional media platforms still coexist with digital platforms and how this impacts promotion.

Justin Chase

Justin Chase
Executive vice president

Over the past decade, the media landscape has completely changed. Traditional forms of media, like television, still exist, but they now must compete with an ever-growing list of digital media competitors. When it comes to promotion, the pharma industry still follows guides based on traditional media outlets, but those may need to be updated for the modern world. EVERSANA INTOUCH’s executive vice president Justin Chase spoke with Pharmaceutical Executive about how this landscape is changing.

Pharmaceutical Executive: With the rise of so many more media options in today’s digital age, what’s this done to media and strategic planning function for brands?
Justin Chase: The rise of social media use 15-20 years ago brought about a democratized approach to content creation. Instead of creating something for one medium and repurposing it for another, advertisers learned they needed to adjust their creation mindset and strategy to accommodate for the nuances of each platform.But the core media consumption channels, TV, print, radio, didn’t inherently change, despite social media use rising. In other words, it wasn’t a zero-sum game. Today, however it is exactly that, people’s attention has shifted so that newer platforms are replacing the old ones. Now it’s not just democratization of content, it’s democratization of attention and some platforms have become attention authoritarians. You’d think this would make it easier for planning, but in reality, planning has become more difficult as your targets’ attention is concentrated in many different places, and it’s constantly changing.

PE: Has the shifting media landscape impacted the effectiveness of advertising for life sciences brands?
Chase: Life sciences brands have a daunting task. The lure of linear television still exists despite the fact that less than half of the country has a linear subscription, and three quarters of the US is predicted to cancel linear in 2025. If your target is men who may be diagnosed with prostate cancer, linear still makes sense...for now.

Advertisers want impact and performance and linear still offers a way to reach a large audience relatively cheaply and effectively. What’s more, if you are trying to reach a large target, it’s not always easy to actually find that target across CTV. These are the types of things I hear from clients in defense of linear and this year those arguments still hold water. That said, planning for 2025 starts in two months. I don’t want to put the lion’s share of my clients’ budget in a medium that has been in the midst of a slow bleed for years.

Again, for certain targets, linear still can drive impact, but as reach exponentially diminishes, the lack of audience scale will destroy metrics like marginal ROI. So the question becomes, maybe I am still getting favorable impact on linear, but is the significantly reduced reach actually worth it?

PE: Is TV advertising, probably the most common medium historically for ads, still relevant?
Chase: To further complicate things, streaming is incredibly fractured. People are not necessarily making the distinction between SVODs and vMVPDs anymore–content is content. Sports has really served as the glue holding the seams of linear together while warding off streaming. Even that paradigm is shifting though, as Amazon has brokered NFL rights, Apple has Major League Soccer, Max has Major League Baseball games, and so on. But as services like the new Fox, Disney, WBD sports partnership enter the marketplace, there is no reason to maintain a linear subscription and I believe the move of sports to streaming will be the final death knell for linear.

As for streaming television, I don’t think there is any question it’s the future–and the future is upon us. The one mistake I’ve cautioned clients on is the false belief you divest from linear directly into streaming at a 1:1 ratio. Aside from Netflix, the streaming business model still needs to be proven out. Streamers will get there, but the unit economics of streaming are not nearly as exciting as they once were for linear, so there is still a lot that needs to be figured out and you don’t want to be investing in a streamer that might go belly-up mid-year. Put another way, I don’t think subscription streaming wins out. Maybe it’s a combination of ad-supported streaming, pay-per-view (PPV), or some yet-to-be-deployed revenue model that is more creative than what we are seeing currently.

PE: With more advertising occurring on social media and other digital platforms, how do advertisers combat disinformation?
Chase: We are already seeing this with synthetic content, like deepfakes, starting to circulate around the upcoming election. With all the technology and data social platforms are sitting on, they have the ability to moderate much more aggressively. The problem is that it really hasn’t been in their interest to do so as it will decrease stickiness and clicks, and there is no culpability under Section 230. I would agree 230 is a slippery slope, but you can no longer make the argument platforms aren’t publishers. Between the public, private interest groups, congress, and big business, we need to collectively start holding platforms more accountable and the good news is that this is starting to happen. The bad news is that these platforms respond to dollars and cents, so unless we enact a mass boycott, we can’t say we take enormous offense out of one side of our mouth, and then patronize these platforms at record rates, on the other side.

PE: What will the role of media look like in the next 5 years?
Chase: The media industry is in the midst of the most significant period of change since the advent of the internet. In 5 years, the sun has finally set on linear, streaming has found a sustainable business model, but the number of players in the streaming market has been reduced by 60-70%. I think it’s very plausible to think that news media is mostly consumed online and sports has been re-bundled. We are starting to see this now but the major change will be a blurring of the lines between vMVPDs and SVODs as such that new platforms emerge with a wealth of on-demand streaming content, as well as live TV content.

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