The future of pharma e-marketing

Just read an interesting article on eyeforpharma’s social networksite about the future of pharma e-marketing. They talk about social networking tools and advanced physician portals, streaming videos and closed loop strategies.

Len Starnes, Head of Global Digital Sales for Bayer Schering Pharma indicates that: “Over the next few years, the biggest external impact will be seen on pharma’s interactions with patients, followed closely by the influence on the industry’s online relationship with doctors.” Even more interesting is that Starnes indicates that “social media also is poised to drive significant change internally in pharmaceutical organizations as they strive for productivity and efficiency gains”.

Well, we all know that this is exactly the message we have been preaching. Good to see that Starnes agrees with our vision.

The article continues with saying that US advertising budgets are changing, focussing less on television. Nothing new here, since less and less people are spending time behind this passive medium. Online spending therefore is “up with a lot of room to grow”. Could be. However I still feel that advertisement on TV is the same as advertisement on the web: make it too commercial and people won’t believe it anymore. Wake up, something is going on. Forget about the smooth and slick commercials, time for something different. Also in pharma.

The article then continues describing the power of online video, as explained by Kathleen Oneial, a former vice president of marketing channels at Novartis and Merck. “It’s a wonderful format for consumers and physicians and now that we have such widely available broadband, video will become a big part of how we communicate,” she predicts. “We’ve seen the profound impact of YouTube and others. Video will become an important tool for marketers and we’ll need agencies that have this capability.”

The article of course ends with the usual ‘it’s-so-difficult-in-pharma’ but “those innovative and dedicated enough to do it have greater competitive advantage”.

Say no more.

Full article here.

The New Media Expo – Our first impressions

Just returned from one of our most exciting trips in our relatively short existence. Started in New York with the participation of an Expert Group about social media in the pharma industry, followed by an intense three days of all things new media at the New Media Expo in Las Vegas. I will try to give a brief summary of our experiences, more detailed blogposts about the content will follow later, once we have edited our interviews.

The New Media Expo (NME) was located in the Las Vegas Convention Centre, home of about 20,000 expos per year. According to Tim Bourquin, Founder of the NME, some 2,000 participants made it it the Convention Centre this year. Each day there were 5 different streams to choose from, varying from Podcasting 101 to New Media Strategies. Since we were with the three of us we could, theoretically, split up but we often ended up in the same lectures since our interests are pretty equal. Fortunately we will receive audio files of all sessions later so we don’t have to miss a thing, content wise (why this is not a standard service in many congress organizations is beyond me).

The exhibtion floor was crowded with companies providing goods and/or services to new media producers. We do have a ’30 Seconds Shameless Self Promotion’-video in the works, showcasing most of the vendors. Stay tuned.

For us last year in Ontario the focus was on learning; this year it was on networking. The lectures did provide a few new insights, but less than last year (we tend to believe that this is because we are learning too in the remaining if the year ;-)). We met some great people and we spend more time discussing new media concepts and the future of these exciting developments (yes, and in the US that starts with an early breakfast meeting at 7:00 hours, thanks Paul)

It is good to see that internal podcasting got a place in the program too this year. Robin Maiden, a pilot of Delta Airlines did a presentation about his project within Delta Airlines. The project is quite similar to our internal podcast concepts and it is interesting to see that Robin is facing the same challenges as we do, as he discusses in our interview we had with him.

Paulo Tosolini, New Media Business Manager in Microsoft presented the final product he showed us last year: the Podcast Kit for Sharepoint. With this (free) add-on to Sharepoint, companies can create a ‘YouTube’-like experience whereby employees can upload company-related videos they made themselves. I was pretty excited when Paulo presented the concept last year and I’m pleased to see that Microsoft decided to make it into a commercial product. We have a vivid interview with Paulo about the Podcast Kit, so check back later.

Last but not least I want to mention Shwen Gwee, a podcast host of Med 2.0 and active in the pharma world as well. We got to know Shwen as one of the most extended networkers in new media and definitely sharing our vision for the use of new media in the pharma world. He has interviewed some interesting people in this industry, known to approach these new technologies with utter care. Watch out for our interview with Shwen as well.

René, Mikki, Erik and Shwen

Together with Paulo Tosolini from Microsoft, Robin Maiden from Delta Airlines and Schwen Gwee from Med 2.0 we are dedicated to give internal podcasting a more prominent place in the next NME.

We look back to a fullfilling expo with lots of ideas to bring home. It was motivational and inspirational for us. Although less ‘intimate’ than last year (Las Vegas is so big, at the end of the Expo everybody ‘disappears’ in the city) there was sufficient content and networking possibilities. We therefore highly recommend this congress to new media producers and related companies. Rumor has it that in 2009 it will be in San Fransisco, We for sure can’t wait…

New Media Expo takes off like a rocket with Gary Vaynerchuk

The New Media Expo 2008 took off like a rocket. First keynote of Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV. Gary, a first generation Russian immigrant who loves the NY Jets and dreams of buying the tam one day, just gave a very energetic presentation. He produces and hosts a very successful podcast show on one of his biggest passions, wine. His key to success:

  • Know your DNA, and do what you want to do
  • Know the 2 C’s: Community and Content
  • We all know it, Content is King, but don’t forget that Marketing is Queen and the Queen runs the household.
  • Be everywhere, on every platform available
  • Love your fans, and answer all their e-mail
  • Patience, patience, patience and you will get there

His biggest mistake: his twitter name, garyvee. Why? Nobody can find him, it’s damaging his brand.


This kick-start sets the tone for the rest of the coming three days.

Brainstorming @ Google

Yesterday was the final day of the workshop in New York. This part of the workshop was executed in the office of Google (well, part of it). Many people were excited to go to this place, including myself. Don’t know exactly why that is. Could be that Google represents the ‘new’ business model regarding the interaction company/employee, or because we use it everyday?

What I do know is that Google pays a lot of attention to the well-being of the employee, or I should I say ‘well-feeling’ since so many candy bars freely available might hinder your well-being at a certain moment. They give the employees the idea that ‘work’ and ‘play’ can be combined, no doubt hoping that the employees are more productive and/or make longer working days. The latter is no doubt the case, although I also believe that New Yorkers in general make their fair amount of hours on the workspace.

The offices are well designed, combing modern elements with the old elements of the building. There is food everywhere, varying from candies to sushi. People may eat and drink for free. There is writing on the walls and it all looks a bit campus-like. Which is intentionally, so I’ve heared.

After the meeting we had a short tour around the premises (thanks Lisa, I know you’re reading this).

For the last day Kevin Colleran, Director of Media Sales and Employee Number 8 at Facebook joined the team of Experts. Kevin had some interesting facts about Facebook (now number 1 social network in the world, having 92 million subscribers and growing with some 400,000 per day) and a jaw-dropping presentation of one of the new features (see later post). I did a short interview with Kevin, and hopefully I can put that online as soon as possible (needed to borrow somebody else’s camera. Mine broke, remember?)

After a good dinner in what was for me the most chique Chinese restaurant I’ve ever been in we spent some time absorbing cocktails in a dito club somewhere high up on a terrace overlooking the city. Well deserved for all the people involved I think.

Hello from the Big Apple!

We usually start our US New Media trip with the intention to meet some celebrities. Last year we met Ryan and the Dorkman, kind of celebrities in the new media space, this year we wanted it to upper it a notch. So I met Leonardo DiCaprio in the plane. I was thinking to do a short interview with him about new media (after all, he was using a MacBook Pro) but I was too busy preparing myself for the upcoming workshop. Sorry Leo, may be next time.

I won’t dive too much into my first impressions of this amazing city called New York (we are not a traveling blog) but let me say that I think Peter Stuyvesant did a pretty lousy job giving the city away to the English in 1664. I can see why the workshop about innovation in communication is held in this trendy place.

It’s now 11 pm and I look back to an inspirational first day. We started off by introducing ourselves to the group. The group is split into two, a group of end users (the target audience) and a group of people who know a thing or two about digital media (the experts). What followed was a mapping of the digital media the young women are using on a daily basis (yes, I did take some notes since some of it was new to me) and other available tools brought in my the experts.

Obviously I can’t go into details about the outcome of these sessions but in general I observed that some of the new tools like Twitter for example were completely unknown and not seen as very relevant, and that reading books which they buy -of all places- in a bookstore (“since you can wander around there”) is still very popular. So may be this generation is not completely lost after all? ;-).

When you look at the overview, it’s really amazing what a modern human being has to deal with on a daily basis to get all the information he or she wants. We identified 19 media touch points, and I’m sure this list is not complete. 

In the second half of the day we brainstormed about ideas based on these digital media touch points, trying to relate that to the marketing of a pharmaceutical product. These ideas were later presented to the target group who could score the ideas. Interesting to see that augmented reality was scored quite high.

Like I said, it was inspirational. It’s a special experience to be in a group and talk about digital/new/social media where everybody is on the same level. A lot of geeky talk about new iPhone apps, the newest and coolest website technologies but also about the social implications of social media on society and the never ending discussion about privacy and the internet (always interesting if someone from Google participates in the discussion).

Gave a lot, learned a lot. A fair balance of this first day. Tomorrow we’re heading to the Google offices for the final part of the workshop. Need to buy a new camera too, since I realized that the internal mechanism can not handle a 1 meter drop on a wooden floor…

Rabies, Serengeti and DigiRedo

An exciting trip to Tanzania, twelve hours of footage, hours of postproduction and a few liters of coffee later we are proud to present the first episode of the Afya Serengeti videoseries. In co-operation with TEN10 films (production) we have created this first episode where Sarah Cleaveland explains the situation in the Serengeti, the reason for her being there and introduces the team. In subsequent episodes we will follow the vaccination team in their journey deep into the park to find and vaccinate dogs against rabies, and thus helping the community.

We encourage everyone to share the videos so that as many people as possible learn about this important initiative. We will make sure that videos will come available on YouTube and the iTunes Store.

Can social networking sites make money?

Remember Rocketboom on The Business of Social Networks in November last year?

It’s clear, social networking is the fastest growing activity on the web. We all know about MySpace and Facebook as the two giants in this field with 72 million and 34 million unique visitors a month (January 2008). But also the smaller players see a lot of people: Bebo (what’s small: 22 million unique visitors a month), Club Penguin (5 million), LinkedIn (nearly 5 million) and Ning (3 million). And all are growing.

When realizing that venture capitalists invest huge sums of money (remember Microsoft, who paid US$240 million for a 1.6% share in Facebook) you might think these sites generate a lot of income through advertising. Well, that’s not really the case: this year MySpace will earn US$100 million less than predicted and Facebook will even face a loss of US$150 million. The fact that many of the smaller players do not reveal any of their revenues doesn’t sound promising either. Is there another bubble-burst at hand?

Bryant Urstadt asked the same question and looked closer at this issue in his Technology Review article ‘The Business of Social Networks‘. He notices the low (and declining) CPM rates for ads on Social Networking sites (MySpace US$2, Facebook US$0.15) compared to for instance Mashable (varying between US$7-33) and TechnologyReview (US$70). But even these low rates do not persuade advertisers…

The problem with advertising in social networks is around three main issues: attention, privacy and content, according to Urstadt. Looking at the traditional advertising model, targeting is the key. And that reveals the difficulty; it is not so easy to target a specific group in a social network as it is for, lets say, Google. There people are specifically looking for clearly defined information, which makes targeting relatively easy. Not in social networks, where people are more busy with conversation with friends and can’t be bothered with commercial messages. Even stronger, many of them dislike it.

Getting in between users of social networks is very complicated and tricky, as you do not want to violate their privacy. Facebook tried with their Beacon program but failed (partially) and MySpace has developed its HyperTargeting system. Advertisers are moderately interested. Even stronger, looking at the US ad spending on social-networking sites relative to total US online ad spending, the odds are against social network-monetization.

Still, with all those millions of consumers at hand, their must be a way for advertisers to reach them (and to keep the social networks alive!). Although there is this fear of history repeating (Bubble 2.0), I do not really believe this, not more than a natural selection, a survival of the fittest (say Darwinism 2.0).

Two things to consider. One is that advertisers should reconsider their approach, their traditional targeting model. Maybe there is a more successful approach in cooperative marketing, co-creation and interactivity in relation to social networks. It’s the classical marketing paradigm: talk with them, not at them. Two, new technological solutions will be developed shortly that give way to another approach between consumers and advertisers. How that will look like, I have no idea (yet) but I agree with Bryant that the key is in the balance between openness and control. These new solutions prevent social networks to remain walled gardens, but where we can communicate across the borders of these communities, which opens a whole new ball game for both users and advertisers.

With that in mind, consider Google’s Open Social and the activities of Plaxo: take a look at the interview with Joseph Smarr, chief platform architect at Plaxo.

And then I haven’t mentioned the virtual worlds…but let’s talk about that another time

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