By Nick Paul Taylor
Digital disruption is forcing a reevaluation of how to connect with patients. Responding to a series of major events—from upheaval at Twitter to the phasing out of third-party cookies—brands are adopting nimbler, more data-driven models that empower them to quickly switch tactics as the operating environment changes and they learn which approaches work best.
Amy Patel, Phreesia’s Director of Analytics, discussed this transforming landscape on a Digital Pharma East 2023 panel that weighed the best ways to reach patients in a world that is “increasingly complex, ever-changing and full of more and more obstacles and challenges,” as she described it.
The phasing out of third-party cookies was a major panel focus. Deprived of a resource that has long been a cornerstone of online engagement, teams now are putting more emphasis on collecting first-party data with consent. Lisa Frankina, Director of Digital Marketing for VIVITROL® at Alkermes, explained how her company works to build trust so that patients feel comfortable sharing their data.
“You want to connect with your audience and emotionally connect with patients,” Frankina said. “What we try to do is amplify the patient voice with first-hand testimonials—a video of someone who has actually been in that position—so that the content is relatable in order to make that authentic connection.”
In the previous, cookie-enabled world, brands could put their materials in front of patients no matter where they were on the internet. Lacking that option today, Natalie Wills, Associate Director of Marketing at Blueprint Medicines, is rethinking how Blueprint can ensure that patients see its content. Some of the new questions her team is asking include: “Where are patients looking for information? Are there ways we can reach patients outside of relying on cookies and data? Where we can put articles out there in the world where patients can find us and come to us?” Wills said.
Brands need a range of ways to connect with patients—and be willing to activate, optimize and switch tactics mid-campaign, the panel agreed. Grace Rodriguez, Head of DTC Portfolio Marketing, iPVU at UCB, described how those necessities manifest at her company.
“Having that nimbleness to really ensure that we are optimizing our spend and reaching those patients, while getting all of the data that we can to really tell that story, is pretty much No. 1 for us,” Rodriguez said. “What are those KPIs per channel, per tactic, per partner? If we’re not delivering on that, then you optimize or you move on.”
The capacity to pivot quickly is reshaping the media-planning cycle, too. The panelists explained that they now continually monitor how different aspects of a campaign are performing and adjust their approach as necessary throughout the year.
“We’ve built more flexibility into our media plans this year than in any year I ever have worked in this space,” said Jack Vance, Managing Director of Data and Activation at SOLVE(D), An IPG Health Company. “Every one of these media plans has a bucket of dollars, and we say ‘We’re going to decide where these go later in the year; we’re going to pick whichever platforms are working really well.’ ”
As Vance explained, a wait-and-see spending model requires brands to frame their definition of success at the start of a campaign, measure how its results compare to that agreed-upon definition and take action if performance falls short of expectations.