PharmExec Blog

Consumers On Demand

Raise your hand if you have a TiVO or some other brand of digital video recorder (DVR).

Chances are good that if you have cable or satellite television programming, you have a time-shifting device and you’ve fully mastered the art at fast forwarding past all the commercials until the precise moment the program comes back on.

Think pharma, which spends billions of dollars every year to reach consumers, isn’t aware of that fact? Think again.

Spot Cable
The healthcare industry is now being offered spot cable—a consumer-targeting tool that can pinpoint the perfect customer using algorithms in the cable box. According to National Cable Communications (NCC), the technology can be used to narrow consumers down to a micro level and send tailored advertisements directly to that individual.

There’s even talk about sending different ads to little Jimmy in his bedroom than the ones his mom is watching in the kitchen. It sounds crazy, but that was one of the topics of today’s lunchtime pow-wow between agencies, marketers, and pharma folks at NCC’s “Connecting with Health & Wellness Consumers in the Digital World” held in Manhattan.

Once the target user is identified, interactive ads can be used to lead the viewer to healthcare information, coupon requests, or related videos. As an example, NCC Senior VP Andrew Capone showed a GSK television ad for Nicoderm that gave viewers the option to click on the remote control to access more information about the product.

It may sound scary, but then again people freaked out over Google Earth at first too. Now everyone is spying on their neighbors using satellite technology.

Healthcare VOD
The other big announcement was the launch of myLIFE On Demand, a video-on-demand service teeming with all kinds of healthcare information programming. From yoga to nutritional information, viewers can watch long-form videos any time they want. At the end of the programming, there is an option to click on the remote for branded information, allowing for more targeted information to be gathered by the cable company.

A panel of marketing execs at today’s NCC presentation discussed the VOD and spot cable topics, gushing over all the possibilities. Charlie Thurston of Comcast Spotlight noted that these innovations will take a while to implement, but that industry is heading in this direction. He also called the remote control a steering wheel to targeted ads, which is as good as a description as any.

Attention Grabber?
With all the positives conversations about new targeting tools, I was still left pondering two questions: What’s the point of spot cable if the person is buzzing past the commercials with their fingers on the TiVO? And, is a healthcare on-demand channel really going to entice people to click on it? It just takes one viewing to realize that a show is an advertorial, and I’d probably never tune in again.

Then again, millions of people watch infomercials hawking everything from Ab Rollers to food processors—so maybe a 30-minute video about insomnia followed by a video spotlighting the benefits of Rozerem will appeal to someone.

Photo: thunderchild5

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