Digital Ads and Branded Messaging in Pharmaceuticals

This article is part of a series called “ABCD of Digital Ads for pharma”. To read the article from Part 1 of the series, click here

I paint sometimes and call them “summaries”. My wife calls them “absurd”. The same happens with most marketers when doctors see most pharmaceutical visual aids or communication tabs. We all agree, whether they say it or not, our visual aids have often annoyed doctors.

Imagine, today, if you convert your visual aid communication into a digital advertisement with PowerPoint-like animation and voiceover, expect healthcare professionals to click “pass the ad“mentally because he has neither the power nor any point.

Digital advertising should not be seen as isolated.

For a brand manager, the most important skills are knowing create effective, engaging and close-loop digital ads.

Did you know that even digital has a “conversion”?

We actually say “conversion” when a doctor starts writing your brand.

In digital, conversion rate is the percentage of users browsing a page, seeing your ad, clicking on it, going to another landing page, and taking an action you wanted them to take. Here, conversion means an action like filling out a form, responding, signing up for a CME, or buying. This is where the loop completes. So, as a brand manager, when thinking about creating an ad, think of a full doctorate experience journey.

During pre-COVID, the job was done if a doctor even saw the visual page. Now in digital, a doctor who sees your ad is the first step. It is your responsibility to plan his journey of experience.

Remember that by the time a potential consumer is not exposed to your brand several times, they may not notice your brand, forget to buy it.

Facts in its place

Let’s get some relevant facts and some quick inferences.

  • According to previous Google Analytics data, India adds nearly 10 million new smartphone users every month, of which around 500 million are already on smartphones. So we have users.
  • Two barriers to using the technology were expensive data and the cost of smartphones. Both are now supported, with data becoming cheaper than a bottle of water and a smartphone available from Rs. 3000 / -.
  • India is the world’s largest video consumer. India is said to have 5-6 times more affinity for video than for static content.
  • According to Perficient insights, 68.1% of all website visits in 2020 are from mobile devices.

This means that as marketers you should keep in mind that your ads should be mobile-friendly. Although I see that the behavior of the doctors is slightly different.

  • According to different reports and my experience, a doctor uses a smartphone 45% of the time while a laptop or desktop computer 40% of the time. The remaining piece goes to a tablet or a phablet. This gives us a good margin to have several forms of ads.
  • I can also attest to the fact that when social logging or for basic research most doctors use a smartphone. While they prefer a laptop or desktop computer for work activities like learning, reading, accessing journals, electronic health records (EHRs), etc.
  • > 70% of Indian doctors think the internet is the place to find out more about the latest drug molecules and related information.
  • 25-26% of physicians enjoy networking with their peers, which should be high in lockdown.

Reasonable size

Display ads capture the attention of Internet users on the web platform and applications. The most common sizes that prevail are measured in pixels below. There are a dozen more in which large mobile banners (300 × 100) are also popular among Google. The most viewed ad sizes on the web and apps are 1) half page (300 × 600), 2) large rectangle (336 × 280), 3) medium rectangle (300 × 250), and 4) ranking (728 × 90)

How can we create good ads?

There is never a rule of thumb in creativity. However, some principles can be derived from branding, messaging and advertising when correlated with consumer behavior. Unlike physical visual aids, marketers have the ability to improve engagement through digital attention, interest, desire, and action.

These can be designed in static and also in GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) or a mixture of both. My personal choice would be partially GIF and partially static which won’t look irritating but will grab attention.

However, which format you choose depends entirely on the purpose of the messaging.

COGNOTONIC – A case study

Here is my imaginary brand “Cognotonic”, to embed points. Based on the most common digital pixel ads specified above, I have tried to show some important factors that will surely help you. (Although many of you can visualize even better)

The above announcement may not be fantastic. However, I made sure of some of the common mistakes we might make due to our visual aids and LBLs.

So based on how I’m feeling, here are the ABCDs you need to follow for good digital advertising.

1. Align and organize

Organize your layout and design with a few basic looks you shouldn’t miss. Keep it simple and clear.

  • The central message which answers the urgent problem “1” of the doctor.
  • Brand Logo / Company Logo
  • CTA (call to action)
  • Picture

Make sure your communication and physical and digital messaging are the same. The same should be consistent across all platforms, including verbatim from your sales teams. Organize your copy in order of readability on all platforms, including your physical visual aids or on tabs. Be consistent with the arrangement.

2. Border and advantage

Remember that your ad will be seen by a doctor when you or your field team are away. As a result, attention spans are much less in digital. You can improve their attention span as long as your ad is worthy of attention and gives the doctor an experience they will remember instead of just looking at it. Web or application platforms are different. Each of them is unique and without similarities.

If your ad gets placements on sites with medical content, chances are the ads will get lost in the crowd of content on the site and never get noticed. A simple solution is if your digital ads have clear boundaries, chances are they won’t get lost on a webpage or app.

When describing the ads, make sure that

1) Are you talking about most pressing problem from a doctor. Or

2) Make your bottom line.

In either case, you should keep the doctor and / or the patient as hero. What I mean is the central human figure.

3. Copy and color

Good writing is knowing what not to write. Remember, the left brain processes sound and the right brain visualizes it. It’s known. So if your ad has too many printed words / text, it goes into the right brain first. It decodes it as a word and sends it to the left brain with just the “sound” of a word. Wait, this all happens in less than 50 milliseconds. So, keep the copy simple and minimalist. We often killed the same goal over and over by adding too much text, many of our visual aids have no visuals.

Make sure you have clear visuals that describe what you want to say. If you’ve started making an ad, I suggest you start your writing and design briefing work at your agency in descending order of sizes.

From the largest size to the smallest. It will keep your copy to a minimum but significant. Often, most of the websites that doctors visit frequently have a light background. So, in such cases, it is advisable to have your ad done with dark backgrounds. The image and foreground should have your brand on a light strip. It helps. Make sure you feel the depth of it. It catches eyeballs due to the mind being diverted to 3D effects on bland text-based science websites / webpages / science microsites.

Most websites, whether they are medical websites, newspapers, or social media, are blue and white. Therefore, try not to use white or blue colors in your ads. Instead, use bright colors that match your brand color.

Finally, red penetrates deeply and commands attention.

4. Dopamine and dynamics

Remember, even doctors are humans. And like all humans, if you tell them a truth (scientific facts and figures like we always do), they will only believe. However, if you tell a story around your brand, they will remember your brand for longer. When you need to tell a story fast, a GIF is better.

We observe that an animated ad outperforms a static ad by 8 to 10%. Whereas a 6-10 second animation had a better conversion rate than static ads. Ads with human images work best. Ads with “Slice of Life” are even better. Thus, showing a heart, brain or lungs or medical imaging is not always a necessity. As humans, we buy a product by an emotional decision backed by logic. So I think the ad must first have emotion with logic to make it complete.

Dynamic and emotional advertisements are more favorable to the release of dopamine. Needless to say, how dopamine helps remember something through an evoked emotion. Talk about relief, talk about healing, talk about positive results in your ads.

Brand managers also need to learn the performance of a metric like RICC (Audience, Impressions, Clicks, and Conversions) to monitor returns.

Sharing content, building communities, and engaging is more related to social media marketing. Content marketing has more to do with blogging, writing articles, building an opinion through bio and push. Organic and boosted digital promotions are the way to go.

Make sure your ad campaigns when planning have engagement levels that cover RICC and not just “Reach.”

I’m leaving you here for you to think more about the ads because there is a lot to learn. It was more about creating ads and not ad campaigns that go even deeper.


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About Nereida Nystrom

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