Digital Ad Industry is Out of Ideas

Advertising industry has been trying to solve the problem of annoying ads in order to make ad experience better for consumers. Past efforts to improve digital ads:

  1. Project Devil- suite of premium, magazine-like ads rolled out in 2010
  2. IAB Rising Star- create bigger, bolder, brand-friendly ads
  3. Online Publishers Association’s big ads- captur TV ad budgets using, big ads, again
  4. build a digital ad network across top publishers

None were widely adopted and few are around anymore. Also, didn’t some of these big ad units make online environments MORE annoying?

All in all, banner ads are still king and being adopted by platforms we thought would hold out (looking at you Buzzfeed).

Too often brands are just looking to create really big ads instead of creating ads suited for their environment. What is the direction most industry experts say we should go? They say we should look at Instagram and Snapchat where ads are created for the platform to align with the other content.

The problem? Programmatic. It’s the only way to compete with TV reach . Right now programmatic is only scalable through the most widely used ad sizes.

Why it’s Hot:

There is no great solution- right now. You have to think of digital ad space differently and stop comparing it to TV. Digital should be all about data and audience targeting, not about the ad units itself. Find the people who are interested.

Continue to blend direct buys, social, and programmatic to get reach and impact in order to deliver on awareness and response. Eventually the programmatic platforms will be able to scale different types of creative, but you’re always going to advertise across hundreds or thousands of sites and therefore it will never be suited to the specific site it lands on.

What’s Wrong with Pharma HCP Websites?

Today’s physicians need all the help they can get in providing patient care.

This should represent an opportunity for pharma to step up as a valued partner to physicians and bolster their relationship with this critical customer set. However, many physicians look to their pharma partners with suspicion, dismissing pharma content as nothing more than advertising and finding the quality of digital resources pharmas provide to be poor.

  • Low trust
  • Navigational Issues
  • Hidden patient support
  • Lackluster video content
  • Ad overload


Why it’s Hot:

MRM has been developing Pharma websites while trying to keep some of the above issues in mind. It’s up to us to make our client’s websites function seamless and provide the most valuable information to the end user. We can continue to use surveys and data like the above to create better experiences and build relationships with our core audiences.

EASE: New Surgical App for Families

Clinicians at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children developed a mobile application to provide real-time updates of surgical procedures to families in the waiting room. Surveys of patient families show improvements in patient experience, while nurses surveyed preferred the app over a phone call to families.


  1. The use of a mobile application to communicate in real-time from the operating room enhances the family experience and improves satisfaction.

  2. Physicians and nurses report that this method of updating the family is more efficient, reliable, valuable, and enjoyable than the traditional phone call.

  3. Communication is a vital component of the health care experience, and the surgical operating room has often lagged behind other areas in keeping families informed.

  4. The utilization of real-time text and visual updates with mobile technology is an efficient and effective tool that has been embraced by physicians, nurses, patients, and their families.

  5. Successful adoption and implementation of electronic communication requires a cultural change within an organization. Buy-in from executive administration, the legal office, the compliance office, and medical leadership is necessary.

  6. Adoption and implementation of innovations in health care can follow a phased process that identifies innovators to test the process and then allows expansion to occur organically.

  7. Providing enhanced communication has been shown to improve the patient experience and increase satisfaction scores and other valuable metrics.

In-App Survey of 2,500 patient recorded positive feedback for app:

  1. EASE reduced their anxiety: 98% yes
  2. Nature of the images received was appropriate: 99% yes
  3. The availability of EASE would influence your choice of hospital: 81% yes
  4. Satisfaction score (1 = very dissatisfied; 10 = very satisfied): 9.7 average score

Why it’s Hot:

As a digital-focused agency we have the ability to find these type of pain points and recommend/develop mobile solutions for our clients. The adoption rate on this product is skyrocketing because of how valuable and relevant it is to the user.

Wearables and a Study That Could Change Healthcare

Watch Video Here:

The people who wear wearables have a chance to participate in a biomedical research project of epic proportion. The “All of Us” study from the National Institute of Health goes beyond the longitudinal standard to create an entirely new research infrastructure replete with a shared dataset for years to come. They are asking for a million volunteers to share a diverse array of personal information to help pave the way for personalized medicine.

Why it’s Hot:

As the public—and healthcare professionals—become progressively more comfortable with data collection, analysis, and sharing, opportunities in precision medicine and advanced research grow. By learning as much as we can from increasingly comprehensive and diverse audiences, the opportunity to provide the right patient with the right information regarding the right treatments also grows.



Google Chrome to Auto-Block Ads

Google’s Chrome browser will soon come with preinstalled technology that will block the most annoying ads currently marring the web experience, the company confirmed on Thursday.

Publishers will be able to understand how they will be affected through a tool Google is dubbing “The Ad Experience Report.” It will basically score a publisher’s site and inform them which of their ads are “annoying experiences.”

Google isn’t calling its technology an ad blocker, instead classifying it as a “filter” that removes the ads that consumers hate most. These include popups, ads that flash quickly, change colors or force people to wait 10 seconds before accessing content on a publisher’s page.

Google said it expects to roll out the features in early 2018.

Why it’s Hot: This will impact the entire advertising ecosystem because Chrome is the most popular web browser for both desktop and mobile.


Video Pre-Roll- 4 Ways to Make Users Engage

 94% of pre-roll ads are skipped, per a study from eConsultancy, new studies show pre-roll ads are also among the most effective forms of digital advertising. For example, a study in April by IPG Media Lab and YuMe showed pre-roll is the most informative and engaging video ad format, compared to mid-roll and outstream.

  1. Address the “skip” issue: Advertisers that have owned the fact that users do not want to deal with their pre-roll ads have had the most success. Consider that Ad Age’s 2016 Campaign of the Year was Geico’s “Unskippable,” which directly addressed the issue of viewers wanting to skip ads by making ads so short, users didn’t have time to move past them.
  2. Many Fortune 500 companies are using new interactive branded “Skip This Ad” solutions, such as TruEngage, which lets users skip with one click, but not before engaging with the product in a fun, interactive and memorable way.
  3. Don’t show the same video: Use frequency capping to limit views across device and then move on to another ad.
  4. Use targeting and retargeting to the best of your ability

Why its Hot:

Pre-roll is difficult to optimize and the above techniques help video pre-roll strategies to be more effective.

Kim K and Pharma on Instagram

Kim Kardashian and Instagram, a perfect match? Not for pharma company Duchesnay  when a post for their antinausea drug Diclegis, resulted in an FDA warning letter, two years ago.  Kardashian landed in hot water for initially promoting Diclegis on Instagram in 2015 without listing any side effects. The post instead included a non-approved one-click link to side effects. The FDA pounced, slapping a warning letter on Duchesnay and demanding reparations.

They are back at it with a current post clearly refers back to Kardashian’s first Diclegis Instagram. It’s displayed on the phone Kardashian is holding in the new post. And she opened the new post with, “Remember this?”

So what’s the problem this time? Fan and media complaints. Many are irritated by the obvious “paid by pharma” shill, the unwieldy list of risks and the fact that she’s not even pregnant this time. The Instagram comments illustrate the pitfalls drugmakers face using that platform—and signing celebrities to spread the word—but the post’s performance numbers show why pharma needs to forge ahead anyway, experts said.

The more than 7,200 comments from fans included plenty of jabs about shilling for pharma, such as, “Omg. Promoting prescription drugs on Insta … this is a whole new low.” There were also complaints about too much fine print—the post had 73 words of Kardashian chat, but 254 words of side effect warnings. As one person wrote, “This almost has the reverse affect with all the small print!”

So far, the post, which went up on Thursday, has more than 790,000 likes. Kardashian’s original FDA line-crossing Diclegis post had 490,000 before it was pulled after about 3 weeks online.

That means this post was more effective, right? Not necessarily.

“What resulted, whether it was the goal or not, was a significant amount of post-level engagement and free PR,” said Doug Weinbrenner, VP of engagement strategy at FCB Health’s Area 23, in an email interview. “(But) what it did not garner, and perhaps one of the most important metrics, is branded engagement on their site.

“While overall traffic saw an obvious uptick the days following the post, time spent on their site was consistent with levels prior to the promotion. In shopping terms, they had more people drive by, but they still had the same amount of walk-ins.”

Why It’s Hot:

Use of celebrities in general in pharma marketing is a double-edged sword. It can offer immediate name recognition and buzz, but can also present risks to a brand’s reputation. And it can trigger increased scrutiny from the FDA and FTC around endorsements.


Cats Take Over London Underground

This is why CATS wanted to do it:


a) it would look amazing

b) it’s exhausting being asked to buy stuff all the time

‘Wouldn’t it be great not to worry about the holiday we can’t afford, the car we don’t need, or the body we don’t have? Imagine a world where public spaces made you feel good.

Read more:

Why it’s Hot:

Example of advertising making people feel good, plus it’s fun and entertaining. This campaign was a huge hit.


Association of Medical Media- Agency Panel Recap

The Association of Medical Media hosts an agency panel every year. It is one of the associations more popular events as publishers submit their questions and ask agency representatives questions on industry trends, planning guidelines, digital metrics and buying methods. This year I was asked to be one of the agency panelists. I thought it would be of interest to share some of the Q & A.

  1. What is one thing you would like see from publishers that you’re not currently receiving? Pricing based on KPIs regardless of channel/tactic. For example if you are using a display banner price on vCPM for awareness and CPC/CPE for direct response.
  2. Can you discuss trends you are seeing the industry? Emphasis on POC opportunities, especially with the growing amount of HCPs who are no/low see. This is the space where patient and HCPs come together and can be very impactful for brands. DTC/HCP NPP has been very segmented in the past but this area provides an opportunity to deliver the most powerful messaging to reach both parties at the moment of diagnosis. The problem is that there are not many opportunities in this area. Right now NPP is limited to EHR and Waiting Room/Exam Room TV, and advanced geo-targeting.
  3. What is one of the biggest issues in determining performance? Attribution. Being able to tie the media to the prescription. Three is a lot left to be wanting in the pharma space.
  4. What do you recommend publishers do to provide better viewability? Site Optimizations like floating or sticky ads and working with a third party ad verification.
  5. Who should pay for ad verification- publishers or advertisers? This was a highly contentious question. However a panelist answered with a great analogy. If we go back  before the digital age and look at print advertising- a publication was bought because of the audience they said they could deliver to. Part of buying that ad space was the assurance that the ad would be delivered to your audience. You didn’t go with them to the post office and buy the stamps to make sure it was delivered to the entire mailing list. There was a level of assurance that the publication was reaching the audience they said they could reach. However, using this analogy a publisher mentioned, in terms of viewability, that you weren’t guaranteed that that audience would look at your ad, however you did pay for more premium placement. Aka you should pay more for a viewable ad impression.

Why it’s Hot?

It’s good to see the other point of view within the medical media industry, and discuss trends and points of view on industry topics. Hopefully this panel helped medical publishers to stay up to date on trends and deliver to agencies what we’re looking for in our partners. It also helped to establish open communication and share information on medical media.

iHeartMedia Lauches Programmatic for Radio

iHeartMedia Expands Programmatic Advertising for Stations and Podcasts

Streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora get a lot of the buzz when it comes to the audio advertising, but broadcast radio has maintained its reach. According to a 2016 report from Nielsen, radio reached 93% of adult consumers, while TV reached just 87%.

But while it has the scale of 270 million on-air listeners, along with 96 million registered digital users and 85 million social media followers, radio hasn’t kept up with the data-heavy audience targeting of its competitors like Pandora and Spotify, which continue to roll out programmatic offerings.

iHeartRadio is debuting a suite of programmatic advertising products to combine the scale of broadcast with the precision of digital marketing. At its SoundFronts event on Wednesday evening, iHeartMedia debuted SmartAudio, a data-centric advertising product that lets advertisers buy media across iHeart’s 850 broadcast stations while also targeting around 700 audience segments.

SmartAudio will also let advertisers use their own CRM data if they don’t want any of the audiences within iHeart’s own categories. And while SmartAudio officially debuts this week, dozens of brands have begun running targeted campaigns with SmartAudio, according to iHeartMedia.

Why It’s Hot

Capturing the reach of radio, while still being able to layer audience data, will put broadcast radio back on the map for advertisers. With media buyers focused on utilizing data in order to reduce wasted impressions and ensure 1:1 targeting, this will now be another channel that fits the bill.

ePharma Consumer Study- Adherence

Adherence is often led by HCP efforts. However, costs are as important a consideration as doctor recommendations in patients’ treatment decisions. Half of patients who receive a prescription go online before filling it- costs and side effects are the most researched topics, with a third (33%) researching side effects and (31%) seeking cost-related info. Consumers also look up other patients’ reviews of the treatment as well as availability of support services.

The information found online is swaying patients’ decisions on whether to fill a prescription – 26% of those who researched a medication online before filling a prescription asked their doctor to change it (as did 37% of psoriasis patients, 40% of Crohn’s patients and 47% of ulcerative colitis patients). 15% did not fill a prescription at all.

Given the importance of online information in patients’ medical decision making, brands should:

  1. Utilize HCPs as a channel to distribute financial support information
  2. Ensure that product websites are easy to find and offer information and resources
  3. Look beyond the brand website to ensure brand visibility in the broader digital ecosystem using promotion and partnerships.
  4. Mine the rich data generated from patient online info seeking to get a better understanding of their mindset and motivators to influence behavior  – what are they struggling with? what are they saying about your brand? What are they searching for?
  5. Influence of pharmacists – nearly 30% of patients who have filled a prescription at a pharmacy say their pharmacist has recommended switching to a generic.

Why It’s Hot:

Adherence is a huge obstacle for almost all pharma brands, especially those within our agency (mental health, diabetes, etc.). There is no one solution yet, but the more we know on how to combat against non-adherence the better we can serve our clients.

Field Trip To Mars

Lockheed Martin is a Global Aerospace and Defense company. McCann along with UM launched the Field Trip to Mars campaign- the first VR group experience. When the client provided the strategy brief, McCann/UM pushed back. There was a much larger issue at hand that needed to be acknowledged. Lockheed had to keep up with the likes of Google ,Amazon, and Apple in terms of innovation and recruiting great talent. The problem is no one knows of them, or what they do.

The Field Trip to Mars campaign was hugely successful. Not only did it inspire a new generation of engineers to consider Lockheed over trendy companies, but also to position them as a pioneer in space travel.

A few of the campaign accolades are below:

  • 19 Cannes Lions- more than any other single piece of work
  • #3 most awarded digital ad in the world in 2016


  • 3 million video views in the first month
  • 100 % positive lift in sentiment in convo
  • 2126% increase in mentions in launch week alone
  • Highest website traffic for campaign launch 43,00 website visitors in first month2 million video

Why it’s Hot:

VR is a hot topic and being adopted by the masses and by many companies. This is an awesome example of where we might be heading with VR and the type of immerse experiences that brands can explore- and have their customers explore.

With the adoption of VR becoming wide-spread, us in media need to think about the impact. How will it be measured compared to 2D video? What new metrics will evolve, how will you measure success?


HCPs Weigh In on Direct to Consumer Advertising


Direct to Consumer advertising in the pharmaceutical industry has always been an uneasy subject among healthcare professionals. That’s for good reason- it’s only allowed in the United State and New Zealand. In every other country pharma companies are not allowed to advertise to consumers.


The banning of DTC advertising comes up every few years. The one of the most recent cases being in 2015, when the American Medical Association voted to ban it- to no avail. A ban or restriction of commercial advertising violates our First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

Regardless, a recent study done by InCrowd, says that 35% of HCPs would ban DTC ads. Why? 2/3 of physicians say their patients become confused due to pharma DTC advertising. 49% say advertising impairs patients’ understanding of treatment.

So why have DTC advertising (besides profit)- what’s good about it? It elicits doctor/patient conversations about treatment options. Compared to five years ago their has been a growth in discussions from x2/week to x6/week because of DTC advertising.

Still 35% of HCPs want to ban ads- this is not helpful to marketers, so let’s look at the other 65%.

  • 31% Additional Patient Education
  • 17% Simplify Messaging
  • 7% No Change (whoohoo)
  • 7% Explanation of Side Effects
  • 3% Include Cost Information

Why it’s Hot:

While only the FDA banning DTC can make this conversation really hot, this article did let us venture into the HCP mindset surrounding consumer advertising. This can help us, as marketers, deliver to HCPs what they need to communicate to their patients- mainly more educational materials.

Some good news- it’s expected that the new generation of doctors won’t have as much concerns around DTC advertising, as it will be considered commonplace.

Growing Number of Americans want Telehealth

American Well ran a Harris Poll to 4,000 consumers in 2016 to ask them about their thoughts on telehealth. In today’s fast-paced, on-the-go world it’s not surprising that a projected 50 million Americans would switch to video visits vs. scheduling an appoint for an in-office visit.

50M Americans would switch their PCP to a doctor who offers telehealth

Telehealth is an important shift in how patients access doctors. 67% of consumers say they delay seeking medical help due to high costs, long wait times, and busy schedules. Consumers still are loyal to their own doctors but want to be able to access them more easily. As such 1 in 5 Americans who switch to a doctor who has telehealth vs. one who does not.

66% of Americans would be willing to see a doctor via video. The highest demographic that are likely to utilize telehealth? Parents with children under 18 and/or those between the ages of 45-54 at 72%.

The applications that patients want to apply to telehealth include:

  • Chronic care condition
  • Post-surgical or hospital stay follow-up
  • Middle of the night care
  • Elderly care
  • Prescription refills
  • Birth control

Why it’s Hot:

The impact of having easy access to healthcare professionals could be huge for Pharma. If patients have more touch points with HCPs and if they were less likely to switch PCPs, would adherence increase?

What would it mean for pharma marketers?

  • Need for increased HCP/Patient shareable digital resources
  • Patient Apps
  • Long Term- decline in HCP office hours? More limited salesforce access?