The latest research from the National Medical Readership Survey (NMRS) shows us that only 14% of GPs find pharmaceutical company websites useful. However, when asked about journal websites and other medical sites/resources this increases to 68% and 72% respectively. Unsurprisingly the trend is the same for secondary care doctors.
Despite this fact pharmaceutical companies are still pinning their hopes on building expensive online portals for healthcare professionals (HCPs), often commissioned at a global level and passed down to local affiliates, in the hope that HCPs will flock to these sites in their thousands. The brutal truth is that building a website is the easy part, driving engagement with content and building a loyal audience or community is difficult, resource-heavy and expensive. Understandably this often leaves companies disillusioned and sceptical about the benefits of online marketing.
So, how can pharmaceutical companies get doctors to engage with their content online?
The answer lies with native advertising - a form of paid-for media where the ad experience of the end user is similar to the usual editorial function and format of the environment in which it is placed. In essence it is the online equivalent of a print advertorial.
Formats for native advertising include promoted videos, images, articles, commentary, and other media. Consumer examples of the technique include search advertising (the ads you see when you search in Google which mirror the usual search experience), Twitter with promoted tweets, trends and people, and Facebook's promoted stories.
But how can pharma take advantage of native techniques when targeting HCPs? Thankfully most healthcare publishers are bought into this concept and have been offering solutions for a while.
Brand teams are often sitting on lots of great content that has been created for other channels (e.g. face-to-face and meetings) all of which can be repurposed for use within the online environment. A big opportunity exists to take this content and extend its reach by placing it within trusted healthcare environments.
Great examples of healthcare environment native advertising
Why wouldn’t you want to align your product or company with a credible and trusted brand like the BMJ. The BMJ now allows content to be hosted within BMJ.com and targeted promotion across the site to drive content engagement with audiences. Assets such as video and PDF downloads can all be incorporated. If you have developed a website with some great online assets and are struggling for traffic, why not replicate parts of the site within BMJ.com to extend their reach.
ClinAlert & ClinTalk from M3 (Doctors.net.uk)
These products are specifically designed to get out approved text (ClinAlert) and video (ClinTalk) to your target audience in a style and format that is both familiar and well received by the members of Doctors.net.uk. ClinAlert can be particularly effective for updating doctors around things such as new indications, price changes and top line trial results. ClinTalk is also particularly good for extending the reach of KOL videos from congress.
In summary, a lot of hard work and investment goes into creating promotional and educational assets so make sure that they achieve the maximum reach that they deserve and consider a native approach to online!