Don't Count Out Traditional Media!

In recent years, social and digital media have been looked upon as the cost-effective saviors for recruiting patients for clinical trials. For good reason, they have been dubbed as the efficient vehicles to recruit patients, just as they have been in many other industries. Consequently, traditional media (TV, Radio and Print) have often been labeled as yesterday's news; tired communication vehicles with high out-of-pocket expenses, little accountability and diminishing audiences (resulting in a poor ROI as fewer individuals are responding to them). Right or wrong, "traditional" has become a dirty word in the Clinical Development world.

But the reality is that traditional is not a dirty word. I n fact, TV audiences are growing! TV ratings for all major events (Olympics, Grammy's, NCAA Tournament, Super Bowl, etc.) are up significantly.

One of the reasons ratings are up is because the networks are getting wise and are integrating online components with live programming to enhance the TV experience. As it turns out, social networks, the Internet and television are actually all quite complimentary to one another. Leslie Moonves, chief executive of the CBS Corporation, said it best, "The Internet is our friend, not our enemy."



The fact is that clinical development teams should always consider traditional media as an outreach option, just as they would social and digital. The Internet can be cost effective but it has limitations from a scalability perspective. There are only so many individuals searching for disease specific content on search engines, so many impressions one can make on Facebook (before saturating the market )and only so many members to engage within support groups and communities. With the right trial and the right condition, traditional media may give you the scale and ROI you need to meet your timelines and budget.

Dirty word? More like your trump card!

In a recent clinical trial my agency conducted for a women's health product, we ran heavy digital and television campaigns. The target demographic for this study was women 35-64 who rank among the highest consumers of both digital and broadcast media. The digital campaign consisted of various behavioral targeted and network display ads, both static and video-enabled, Facebook advertising, search engine marketing, email, and community outreach. The television campaign consisted of a mix of local spot TV (cable and over-air). As we analyzed the data in real-time, the results were rather surprising. Digital media was only 1.3% more efficient (on a cost per qualified lead) than Television. However, TV resulted in 10x the volume of qualified leads (19,000 passed a pre-screener versus 1,900 via digital media).

The real insight here was that the cost per qualified lead never wavered more than +/- 5% with TV. With digital it was an entirely different story. The first half of the digital campaign was nearly 40% more efficient (per qualified lead) than television. As we ran the second half of the digital campaign, despite constant creative refreshes, countless optimizations, and thousands of ad combinations, the cost per lead steadily increased. As we spent the final 20% of our digital budget we hit market saturation and the cost per lead nearly tripled. Consequently, we determined that digital media was no longer sustainable as a cost-efficient strategy for recruiting patients and shifted remaining funds towards TV. While this is just one example, it underscores how that 'tired,' traditional media is still as dependable, efficient, and effective as ever. And it should always be considered as a viable tactic for recruiting patients for clinical trials. Sure, it can't "friend" you, or provide you with relevant content the second you want it. But there is something to be said about the way images and sound come through my 55" HDTV that my computer and iPad simply can't compete with.

1 comment about "Don't Count Out Traditional Media! ".
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  1. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, May 24, 2011 at 11:21 a.m.

    How about newspaper? When ads appear on TV or in the paper (mag closings have long closings, to say the least) it has a longer viewing time that medical trials need. Digital does not require so much attention, not to mention repetition ad nauseum and people have trained themselves not to see ads.

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