PharmExec Blog

Are Drug Ads in Print Journals Still Effective?

If the American public could shed girth as quickly as many medical journals have in recent years, we’d all be a lot healthier.

Collectively, medical journals dropped over 4,200 pages in 2013, as reported by MM&M last month, a direct result of fewer ad buys in the category. Professional marketers have steadily shifted resources into digital channels and other outside-the-book physician engagement activities.

But marketers should think twice about cutting off print journal plays, at least for some physician audiences, according to Jaime Hodges, EVP, healthcare, at Phoenix Marketing International. The company has developed an assessment tool that attempts to quantify the “stopping power” of a journal ad, among other things, that can influence a physician’s behavior.

To establish a set of benchmarks for effective journal advertising, Phoenix randomly selected 50 drug ads from last year’s medical journals, and asked physicians to review them according to a set criteria. “Our methodology reconstructs a mock-journal environment to try to get as close to a real-life situation as possible,” says Hodges. Phoenix is partnered with the market research firm Medefield for physician panels, and Hodges says hundreds of physicians gave input during the ad review benchmarking process.

In addition to stopping power and recall, physicians were asked to rate ads based on whether the ad reminded them of something they already knew, gave them new information, and what actions they might take as a result of seeing the ad. Actions like “prescribing the drug, prescribing it more than they already do, seeking out more information, requesting samples, and testing their rep about the product,” says Hodges. “We’re finding that a third of the physicians will report a high likelihood – a six or a seven on a seven-point scale – to take at least one of those actions.” About a quarter of physicians “strongly agree” that a journal ad can be a good reminder, even when it’s not anchored to a new product or new indication, she says.

Other findings include:

  • Single page ads outperform two-page ads
  • The most effective ads feature images of patients
  • Journal ads more easily get the attention of specialists versus PCPs or pediatricians
  • Oncologists in particular are very receptive to journal ads

Asked about a correlation between high-performing ads and prescription uptick or other proven ROI measures, Hodges says the company hasn’t completed the validation process yet, but hopes to tie its ad review product – Journal AdPi – to drug sales in the future. “The real barrier is access to prescribing data…it’s difficult to get unless we get it from our clients.”

This entry was posted in Advertising, Agency Insight, Marketing, Sales, Technology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.

One Comment

  1. David Delong
    Posted April 24, 2014 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Big surprise a company that has a vested interest in traditional Pharma promotional behavior continuing has a study that proves their point. I remember a number of years back – when Journals were in their heyday – a physician was giving a talk on his view of pharma promotion he took at a Journal and demonstrated how he reads it (objective studies have supported what he demonstrated). he looked at the index found piece he was interested in and proceeded to tear all pages in front of the article out and throw them away. He did the same with the pages in the back of the article. He then held up the 5 pages article and pronounced “If your ad is between these pages I might see it”

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

  • Categories

  • Meta