'Advertising-Driven' Behaviors As Early- Stage Diagnostics Of DTC Business Strength

Focusing exclusively on "prescriptions filled" as a measure of DTC advertising impact can miss important early-stage diagnostics of DTC brand business strength. These early stage diagnostics tend to be "advertising-driven" behaviors which, when viewed sequentially, represent an individual's pathway to becoming a customer.

Understanding how patients transition through the pathway provides an understanding of areas of strength and weakness, whether patients are moving in the right direction and, most important, the presence of blockages in the pathway that need to be reduced or, if possible, eliminated.

"Advertising-driven" behaviors can be as basic as an individual -- as a result of seeing an ad, becoming aware of a condition, as a possible sufferer. "Advertising-driven" behaviors can include an individual attempting to self-diagnose or seeking physician diagnosis and care. Associated communication-related behaviors would include web search for information about a suspected condition (using condition-related key words) and/or web search for doctors known to treat the suspected condition, visitation to sites like WebMD or dedicated sites like



While visiting these sites, patients can take actions such as completing diagnostic surveys and downloading information pertaining condition management. Each of these communication-related behaviors, including Internet search, site visitation and actions taken, can be tracked through Omniture and Google Analytics. Awareness-attitude-usage (AAU) surveys help to monitor condition awareness.

Presuming the DTC pharma brand advertising has been effective, the patient is aware of the brand and the condition that the brand is intended to treat. And, presuming the DTC pharma advertising is working as intended, the patient discusses treatment options with a physician and requests a prescription for the advertised brand.

Associated communication-related behaviors would include Internet search for information about the brand (using branded key words), clicks on brand display advertising, visitation to the brand website and activities once at the brand site such as downloading coupons. These communication-related behaviors would ideally be tracked by a proprietary marketing analytics platform like Havas Digital's Artemis and supplemented with information from Omniture and Google Analytics.

This information would be further augmented with phone-based request-for-information call volume. At this stage, AAU surveys help to monitor brand awareness, brand consideration, perceptions of efficacy/safety (relative to competitive options) and intention to request a prescription for the advertised brand.

Once a script has been written, the patient needs to visit a pharmacist, take the drug as directed, refill the prescription as required and remain loyal to the brand. This set of behaviors is often referred to as "adherence." Various measures of Rx volume including prescription volume (new and repeat) and a range of information pertaining to adherence are available through pharmaceutical research vendors including IMS, SDI and Wolters-Kluwer At this stage, AAU surveys help to monitor brand satisfaction and intention to continue with the advertised brand.

One last communication-related behavior that should not be ignored is the conversations that patients are having with the friends, families and health care professionals. These conversations are taking place at every stage of the consumer pathway. Online conversation tracking is available thorough Kantar's Cymphony, Radian6, Sysomos, and others. Offline conversation tracking is available through Keller-Fay, et al.

Keeping track of patients as they become a customer provides an important understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the advertised brand business. Are patients moving in the right direction? Are patients having difficulty transitioning between particular stages of the pathway? Are there obstructions in the pathway to becoming a customer that need to be reduced or eliminated? Are sufferers transitioning too slowly?

With this information in hand, it is possible to pinpoint problem areas in the pathway and develop customized solutions to help eliminate obstacles to business success.

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