Yahoo to Pharma Marketers: Come `Engage’ & Target Health Consumers Online

As my CDD has explained to both the FDA and FTC, the digital marketing of drugs and health information require serious privacy and consumer protection safeguards.  What may be acceptable when selling cars & travel online using the online ad tool-set is not appropriate when transferred wholesale to such sensitive categories as drugs.  Here’s an excerpt [pdf] from Yahoo!s promotional piece entitled “Social Media:  Pharmaceutical Marketing in the Age of Engagement.”

Social media marketing is a compelling opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to reach their most influential audience. Recent research conducted by Manhattan-based Hall and Partners Healthcare found that online health consumers are hyper-engaged and leverage almost twice as many information sources

to learn about disease states and prescriptions than the average consumer… For every creator of content – a physician writing a blog, for example – there are

roughly 10 synthesizers actively commenting, sharing, rating and reacting. For each group of synthesizers, roughly 100 consumers read, watch, listen and enjoy

while participating only occasionally. All three of these groups have a valid place within the community. event forms. Just as we have built communities of physicians who speak openly with each other about our products, we have an opportunity to nurture and learn from consumer communities as well. First, we must listen with intent…Analyzing what you hear can reveal a gap in consumer awareness. What’s more, a number of tools have emerged to help consolidate the vast array of social media input, from free online evaluators like Intelliseek, to sophisticated and customized tracking services like Cymfony. Once marketers have a firm grasp on the language, attitudes, brand perceptions and key COLs in their consumer community, pharmaceutical company participation can range from targeted media placement to integration and empowerment. All approaches are open to branded or unbranded programs…

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

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