Media and Health ... Which Is Transforming Faster?

Health is Transforming

Health is a journey like no other. From the moment we are born, it begins; from boo-boos and scraped knees to getting fit, giving life and battling illness, the health journey is something we all have in common. It is a journey that is continuous, challenging, and sometimes rewarding – but always requires fortitude – from within and from without. Health is a journey that matters. It’s one of the reasons that health is one of the most-searched categories on Google, and the most discussed topic in social media; the reason that there are 1.2 billion pages of web content dedicated to health and wellness, and that half a trillion dollars of investment have been spent there in just the past 10 years. 

Health and the consumer health journey is transforming faster than ever. From self help to self diagnosis. From once asking a friend “where did you get those shoes?” to asking today “what does that watch track and where can I get one?” The proliferation of health in the society, in fashion, tech, and the media is fueling a perfect storm for marketers to change how to think about engaging today’s healthconscious and unconscious consumers. The years are long gone where Americans wait to hear what their doctors tell them how to treat. They turn to Google, WebMD, and more importantly each other, in real time. And they are turning to complete strangers. 



Think about it … if I would have told you five years ago that you would post photos of issues with your skin or questions about your sleep pattern or even a diagnosis from a doctor for the world to read and respond to, you would have thought I was nuts. Today almost everyone does it. This seismic shift in consumer health is the wave of the future and marketers need to ride the wave before it barrels over them.

Media is Transforming

Changing even faster is the world of media. We live by a mantra that media is changing faster than advertising. If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest behind India and China. According to comScore (May 2, 2014), 166 million people in the U.S. own smartphones (68.8% mobile market penetration). These stats were not the reality just 12 months ago. The rapid evolution of media requires media to be the first thought, not the afterthought.

For years, media was not seen as creative, the media person always had the last slot at the client meeting, often not even given the chance to present. And it was fine, no one cared about where the ad ran, it was all about the creative. Heck, we could buy a couple of networks, run in few national magazines and “hit” everyone in our “target.” Two words that repel me now: hit and target. Our customer’s are uber consumers of content. It is not longer solely about what we want to say to them. More important, it is about understanding how they engage with content and what they need to hear from us. Back to two dirty words…”hit” and “target”. Targets are something you shoot at; your customers are people you should want to engage with. On their terms, not yours. 

Embracing media transformation means a few things:

1. Think media first. Pull forward understanding where your audience is engaging with content and how that changes through the health journey. Her needs are very different in the doctor’s office while on her smart phone, than while watching Scandal on her tablet.

2. Change your view of media talent. Today they should be artisans, not mathematicians. They need to understand the impact of data on media and be brave to push publishers to create new forums for ideas to live and prosper. They should not be coloring in the lines.

3. Embrace new measurement. Move from asking “how is TV driving my business?” to “what touches with my customer drive the most benefit to them and ultimately to our bottom line?”

I don’t think that any two areas are changing any faster than health and media. This perfect storm of change requires new thinking, new approaches, and the courage to take risks to be successful.

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