Pharma Budgets Soaring, but Marketers Closely Watching Washington

According to the 2019 MM&M Deloitte Consulting Healthcare Marketers Trend Report, marketing budgets increased 26% when compared to the previous fiscal year. The mean budget jumped from $8.3 million to $10.5 million, and 92% of respondents reported a year-over-year increase! This growth has been fueled by a record number of approvals of new treatments, as well as the Trump Administration’s Laissez-faire approach to the industry. This recent growth, however, faces numerous challenges in the near-future. The political climate present when such issues are addressed will strongly influence their outcome, and experts have agreed political action is inevitable.

Joe Plevelich, a commercial operations executive for a pharmaceutical company commented:

“If you look at some of the leading potential contenders for the presidency and some of the platforms they are trying to establish, [many] are talking about better controls and transparencies around pharma pricing and profits. I think there are definitely changes afoot. Whoever is going to be in power is going to have an impact on pharma pricing and our recent ability to continue to raise pricing on a whim.”

As we embark upon an active and critical time in healthcare regulation, development, and modernization, both democrats and republicans agree pharma is an industry worthy of attention.

The following have been identified as key discussions to watch as we approach 2020:

  • A reduction or elimination of tax deductions for marketing expenses (expected this year)
  • Requiring list prices of drugs to be included on TV advertisements
  • Price caps on drugs (Congress has already opened hearing on rising drug prices)
  • Investigations into sales and marketing practices

Why It’s Hot

The outcomes of these and similar healthcare regulatory topics will strongly impact pharma marketing budgets, and will determine if they will remain as fruitful as they are today. Many are concerned an unfavorable decision in any of these issues, could lead to significant change. Pharma marketers should remained tuned into the latest developments in these and other healthcare related issues, as well as the 2020 presidential election.

Source

How will Netflix react to the new Disney stream service?

For nearly two years the world has been waiting for Disney to officially announce the release of their new streaming service. Well Disney+ has officially been announced and will be launched Nov. 12, and will cost $6.99 a month — or $69.99 annually (which works out to $5.83 a month). Disney will rely heavily on their deep catalog of Disney classics, Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar franchises to bring in the initial audience. Disney+ will launch with plenty of originals as well: 25 new episodic series and 10 movies in its first year. By its fifth year, the former number will hit 50, executives said, but the number of films will remain constant.

It will be interesting to see how Disney+ will disrupt the streaming business. Netflix remains the giant, with over 140MM subscribers’ worldwide, with a number of new (Apple/Disney) and old (Hulu) players beneath them.

Netflix recently raised the cost of their service to $13 per month for a standard subscription. The company is looking to boost top-line revenue to offset its ballooning content costs, which were projected to hit $13 billion on a gross basis in 2018. To fund its content-spending binge, Netflix has raised billions in new debt: It reported $8.34 billion in long-term debt as of Sept. 30, up from $6.50 billion at the end of 2017. It’s also continuing to burn cash, and most recently projected negative cash flow of more than $3 billion for 2018 (versus negative free cash flow of $2 billion a year prior).

If Disney is able to “steal” subscribers or stunt the growth of Netflix globally, Netflix may look at additional lines of revenue, including the long rumored advertising model (similar to Hulu). With Hulu’s ad revenues predicted to surpass $500 million by 2020 it is an option that many expect will be necessary for Netflix’s long term profitability and content expansion.

Source: Variety, Washington Post, eMarketer

Podcasts: The New Wild West

The IAB expects podcast advertising to exceed $500 million in 2019, which represents growth of about 65% in just two years. It’s a fast growing medium with limited standardization where only a small handful of categories have had ongoing success.

Part of podcasts’ allure (to brands) is the quality of its core demographics, which skew ages 25 to 40 with higher income levels and education. This is often an audience that’s tough to reach and they’re not typically watching a lot of TV.

The other allure is credibility. Most listeners are highly engaged when tuned into a podcast and usually don’t mind hearing ads. Ads tend to be kept to a minimum and are relevant to the program’s content, often via host-read ads. Trust and brand recall for podcast ads is also high when compared with other ad formats.

Based on data from nearly 50 custom studies Nielsen has conducted over the last 18 months, podcast advertising has demonstrated that it can move the needle on many important key metrics like awareness, ad recall, affinity, recommendation and purchase intent.

US Podcast Penetration

Podcast Ad Effectiveness

Why Its Hot?

The podcast advertising market in the US is poised for strong continued growth in listenership and ad dollars, but without meaningfully addressing current friction points, it might remain a niche advertising vehicle primarily suited to direct-response advertisers in the near term.

The ability for sellers and buyers to talk the same language is holding back the value proposition for brands more than anything else. There is a question of scale and fragmentation still – with only a few programs reaching the masses and many more reaching only smaller, niche audiences at far less frequent intervals than other media.

Newspapers existed before the Audit Bureau of Circulation, Radio existed before Arbitron, TV existed before Nielsen and the internet existed well before the IAB and comScore.  Podcasts are still living in this dawn of pre-standardization and governance, and how downloads and audience size is measured from one show or network to another is varied, making it harder for larger brands to execute – and measure – any meaningful effort.  Anyone want to start up an independent 3rd-party measurement company?

sources:

https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2019/how-podcast-advertising-measures-up.html

https://content-na1.emarketer.com/podcast-advertising-2018?li=1

Microsoft’s New Surface Hub 2 Will Revolutionize Agency Work

Image result for microsoft surface hub 2 gifLast week Microsoft announced their latest attempt to change agency teamwork forever, and they call this attempt the Surface Hub 2.

They’re branding it as an “interactive whiteboard for business.”

Imagine you’re about to present in a meeting, and in the room with you is ten people and a 50-inch easel with a touchscreen. You scan your fingerprint on the side of the Hub, it recognizes you, and logs you in. Suddenly, everything you just saw at your desk pops up right there on the Hub. You go through your presentation, and someone from the Creative team walks in with their Hub and pushes it next to yours. Now you have an even bigger screen, where you can collaborate seamlessly. Something like this…

Image result for microsoft surface hub 2 gif

This is Microsoft’s dream. They want collaboration in environments like ours to be seamless. The Hub 2S (which launches in June) is aimed at business, not end consumers like you and me. This thing is meant to be bought in bulk by agencies like MRM to help the disparate departments come together and collaborate easier than ever before.

Why It’s Hot

This is hot because it innovates on something we all take for granted. This proves hardware like the Hub 2 can disrupt the agency status quo and bring a sense of experimentation and exploration into the agency’s culture. And that’s something we at MRM can’t get enough of.

Image result for microsoft surface hub 2 gif

If done correctly, Microsoft could be onto something. These devices could do wonders for the work we do. Or, if Microsoft half-asses the experience, or agencies can’t justify owning ten of these at $9,000 per unit, this could flop. Hard.

But their intention, to upgrade and streamline how we all do what we all do, is a damn good one.

Source: https://www.windowscentral.com/microsoft-surface-hub-2

#PRN

A safe space to practice sexting


Juicebox has launched Slutbot to teach people how to do sexting properly. Slutbot is a chatbot experience that shows you how to talk dirty in real life. In response to users’ most common request, the “relationship and intimacy” startup Juicebox has developed its chatbot experience to show you how to send sexy SMS messages in real life.

Not to be confused with artificial intelligence, Slutbot is a chatbot that allows users to practice sexting and dirty talk. The SMS experience can be erotic and tackles important issues like consent and communicating desires as it normalizes conversations about sex. The team had to create a human-like chatbot that didn’t kill the mood.

Juicebox makes the Juicebox app, which provides direct access to personalized sex and relationship advice and coaching. The same team has also made Slutbot, which is available to anyone on iOS or Android as an SMS-based chatbot.

Why its hot?
They not only acted on an obvious user need but created a safe space for users to improve 
Roughly half of adults sext, but there’s still a lot of anxiety around doing it. Slutbot was born out of the most common request the Juicebox team received from users of their iOS app: How do you dirty talk?
And they acted on a human truth to stay true to their brand mission
‘If you can’t share your desires, you’re really holding yourself back’

 

Source: Mashable

McDonald’s Personalizes the Drive-Thru Menu

Next time you pull up to a McDonald’s drive-thru, you might see exactly what you’re craving front and center. Menus will be personalized based on factors like weather, local events, restaurant traffic, and trending items.

This new technology will be powered by their acquisition of personalization company Dynamic Yield. The menu can be programmed against triggers with scenarios such as offering ice cream and iced coffee when the temperature rises above 80 degrees, or pushing hot chocolate when it starts to rain.

Once a person starts ordering, the menu will offer add-ons based on the previous selections made. For example, a person ordering a salad may be offered a smoothie instead of fries.

Why It’s Hot

McDonald’s already builds off of customer’s cravings. Now that these cravings can be predicted, personalized, and optimized over time, there’s a high likelihood that customers will be ordering more at the drive-thru window.

DeepMind? Pffft! More like “dumb as a bag of rocks.”

Google’s DeepMind AI project, self-described as “the world leader in artificial intelligence research” was recently tested against the type of math test that 16 year olds take in the UK. The result? It only scored a 14 out of 40 correct. Womp womp!

“The researchers tested several types of AI and found that algorithms struggle to translate a question as it appears on a test, full of words and symbols and functions, into the actual operations needed to solve it.” (Medium)

Image result for home d'oh

Why It’s Hot

There is no shortage of angst by humans worried about losing their jobs to AI. Instead of feeling a reprieve, humans should take this as a sign that AI might just be best designed to complement human judgements and not to replace them.

AI Voice Assistant

Such tasks, historically performed by a personal assistant or secretary, include taking dictation, reading text or email messages aloud, looking up phone numbers, scheduling, placing phone calls and reminding the end user about appointments. Popular virtual assistants currently include Amazon Alexa, Apple’s SiriGoogle Now and Microsoft’s Cortana — the digital assistant built into Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 10.

Why it’s hot:

  • Intelligent Personal Assistant: This is software that can assist people with basic tasks, usually using natural language. Intelligent personal assistants can go online and search for an answer to a user’s question. Either text or voice can trigger an action.

  • Smart Assistant: This term usually refers to the types of physical items that can provide various services by using smart speakers that listen for a wake word to become active and perform certain tasks. Amazon’s Echo, Google’s Home, and Apple’s HomePod are types of smart assistants.

  • Virtual Digital Assistants: These are automated software applications or platforms that assist the user by understanding natural language in either written or spoken form.

  • Voice Assistant: The key here is voice. A voice assistant is a digital assistant that uses voice recognition, speech synthesis, and natural language processing (NLP) to provide a service through a particular application.

Tractica is a market intelligence firm that focuses on human interaction with technology. Their reports say unique consumer users for virtual digital assistants will grow from more than 390 million worldwide users in 2015 to 1.8 billion by the end of 2021. The growth in the business world is expected to increase from 155 million users in 2015 to 843 million by 2021. With that kind of projected growth, revenue is forecasted to grow from $1.6 billion in 2015 to $15.8 billion in 2021.

At Unilever, Resumes are Out – Algorithms are In

The traditional hiring process for companies, especially large organizations, can be exhaustive and often ineffective, with 83% of candidates rating their experience as “poor” and 30-50% of candidates chosen by the company end up failing.

Unilever recruits more than 30,000 people a year and processes around 1.8 million job applications. As you can imagine, this takes a tremendous amount of time and resources and too often talented candidates are overlooked just because they’re buried at the bottom of a pile of CVs. To tackle this problem, Unilever partnered with Pymetrics, an online platform on a mission to make the recruiting process more predictive and less biased than traditional methods.

Candidates start the interview process by accessing the platform at home from a computer or mobile-screen, and playing a selection of games that test their aptitude, logic and reasoning, and appetite for risk. Machine learning algorithms are then used to assess their suitability for whatever role they have applied for, by matching their profiles against those of previously successful employees.

The second stage of the process involves submitting a video interview that is reviewed not by a human, but a machine learning algorithm. The algorithm examines the videos of candidates who answer various questions, and through a mixture of natural language processing and body language analysis, determines who is likely to be a good fit.

One of the most nerve-wracking aspects of the job interview process can be anticipation of the feedback loop, or lack thereof – around 45% of job candidates claim they never hear back from a prospective employer. But with the AI-powered platform, all applicants get a couple of pages of feedback, including how they did in the game, how they did in the video interviews, what characteristics they have that fit, and if they don’t fit, the reason why they didn’t, and what they believe they should do to be successful in a future application.


Why it’s hot:
  Making experiences, even hiring experiences, feel more human with AI – The existing hiring process can leave candidates feeling confused, abandoned, and disadvantaged. Using AI and deep analysis helps hiring managers see candidates for who they are, outside of their age, gender, race, education, and socioeconomic status. Companies like Unilever aren’t just reducing their recruiting costs and time to hire- they’re setting an industry precedent that a candidate’s potential to succeed in the future doesn’t lie in who they know, where they came from or how they appear on paper.[Source: Pymetrics]

An actually engaging banner ad? I’m all ears.

Last week I was Googling some movies to watch. I clicked on a search result that led me to IMDB. To my surprise, I was greeted by Dumbo, who flew around my screen overtop of the content I was trying to view. After falling out of frame, he reappeared in what seemed to be a static banner on the side.

What did I just witness? Did I just see an elephant fly? It was unexpected. It was irrelevant. But it was kinda cool. I then proceeded to engage with the banner, wondering if Dumbo knew any more tricks. After clicking on the “watch video” button, Dumbo came back to life, flew out of the ad and back across my screen, leaving behind a pop-up of the trailer.

Sorry, no video—I took one on my phone but it was too large to upload. Hoping to share live.

Why it’s hot:

Upon closer inspection, this AR-like experience was nothing more than a cleverly placed pop-up that interacted with another cleverly placed banner ad. And although this technology is nothing new, it got my attention. In fact, this is probably the first time I intentionally clicked on a banner…ever? Let alone the first time I engaged with a banner that had nothing to do with the content I was viewing, or even anything I was remotely interested in. It was a smart idea with smart execution, which led to a click. What more could you ask for?

I’ve been returning to IMDB to see if there were any other cool ads like this. So far there haven’t been, although there was a somewhat similar pop-up for the Lion King, but it wasn’t nearly as innovative.

Ultimately, I believe this experience can best be summarized by the words of a particularly talented murder of musical crows:

But I be done seen ’bout ev’rything
When I see a elephant fly

When the rest of the world zigs, Burger King zags

On April 1st, 2019, Burger King introduced a meatless burger to the menu: the Impossible Whopper. They duped several BK customers and filmed their reactions to eating a fake Whopper.

April Fools, right? Wrong.

Burger King really is beta testing the plant-based Impossible Whopper at several locations around St. Louis.

Why It’s Hot

It’s hot because BK picked a day when they knew everyone would be on the lookout for April Fool’s stunts. They knew they were going to get attention on April 1st and took advantage of it to introduce a new product.