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Q&A With Chris Schneider, Vertical Marketing Lead, Pharma Health & Wellness for Roku

Chris Schneider, Roku

Chris Schneider, Roku

As traditional TV customers continue their exodus to streaming/connected TV, pharmaceutical marketers are faced with the challenge of utilizing the quickly growing medium effectively while balancing the traditional. Pharmaceutical Executive talks to Chris Schneider, fleshing out the TV marketing landscape, where ad budgets stand, findings from a Roku-commissioned study, and also sharing some poignant calls to action.

Pharm Exec: What does the current TV marketing landscape look like right now for pharmaceutical marketers?

Chris Schneider: Traditional TV has long served as the thread that has connected the US culturally – and the same goes for the pharmaceutical market as well. Whether a person was from Los Angeles or a small town in Louisiana, they would likely have been able to chat about the latest contestant to be voted off “American Idol” that week. Pharmaceutical marketing and traditional TV have long been interconnected, forming a strong bond that penetrated the fabric of US culture to drive brand and disease state awareness, while also spurring water cooler conversation, late night TV punch lines, and debates. But as US viewing habits have shifted to TV streaming, pharma’s slow reaction has produced a dynamic where cordless homes don’t know pharmaceutical brands.

Where are pharmaceutical marketers directing their ad budgets?

According to MediaRadar, pharmaceutical advertisers spent 70% of their ad budget on TV last year.1 This dynamic, coupled with the proliferation of streaming TV services, has formed an inflection point for the pharmaceutical industry. In July, streaming platforms captured a record 34.8% of all television viewing, according to Nielsen’s monthly ratings report. It topped broadcast as well.2

Today, 1 in 4 American homes are cordless, untethered, and no longer paying for traditional TV. These dynamics pose a question to pharmaceutical marketers: As consumers cut the cord, can pharmaceutical brands afford to keep the status quo? New study data says absolutely not.

Roku recently released a study on U.S. cord cutter patients and their familiarity with pharma brands. Can you share more on the findings?

A new Lucid study, commissioned by Roku, surveyed over 3,500 U.S. patients. The study specifically asked “condition conscious” consumers, defined as those indicating they have the condition or are a caretaker of someone with the condition, to rate their familiarity of the top ad spending brands in the category. Respondents were then segmented by if they pay for TV or if they cut the cord.

Not surprisingly, due to the level of investment in traditional TV across pharma, “condition conscious” traditional TV viewers had very high levels of awareness. However, the cordless segment had a significant gap across each major disease state. Across the top ad spending drug categories – diabetes, migraine, psoriasis, HIV, and arthritis – cordless homes are 35% less aware of in-category brands than traditional TV viewers. They are 37% less likely to trust pharmaceutical companies. We know that patient trust is currency3 for pharma brands. Streamers that indicate a high trust of pharmaceutical companies are 4.2X more likely than low-trust streamers to get excited to try new medications and 1.5X more likely to do research and ask their doctor about medications.3

What are ways pharmaceutical marketers can close this awareness gap?

Expect the cordless segment to grow as recession fears and economic uncertainty grow. 39% of people who cut the cord in years past cited the reason as the cost of pay-TV or an effort to reduce household expenses.4 By following the following four steps pharmaceutical marketers can close the awareness gap of this elusive and growing segment.

  • Think like a cord cutter and then reflect: View your media plan and strategy through a cord cutter lens. Ask yourself, “without traditional TV, how many opportunities would a cord cutter have to see my brand’s story come to life?” Shift your media mix if there are gaps.
  • Precision reach: Work with TV streaming partners to reach cordless or light traditional TV consumer segments to deliver the brand’s message on the biggest screen in the home. TV streaming offers competitive advantages in terms of targeting and reach because of the direct customer relationships that are not possible in traditional TV.
  • Appeal to value: Align your brand messaging and creative to meet cord cutter wants and needs. Cord cutters are driven by value. Drive messaging in brand’s creative that makes specific values front and center.
  • Measure ad awareness and messaging impact with a brand lift insights study. Experiment and fine tune.

The shiny black cord that was drilled, threaded, stapled across baseboards, and connected into nearly every American home has been cut at mass scale, leaving marketers with a new normal. The time for pharmaceutical marketers to think critically about media consumption habits and act is here.

1 https://mediaradar.com/blog/dtc-pharma-ad-trends-overview-new-advertisers/

2 https://www.forbes.com/sites/carlieporterfield/2022/08/18/streaming-viewership-surpasses-cable-for-first-time-nielsen-says/?sh=6ebebbe9767e

3 Roku + Lucid Pharmaceutical Survey, October 2022

4 https://www.mrisimmons.com/2022/01/25/top-5-reasons-cutting-the-cord/

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