Digital Ads and Brand Messaging in Pharmaceuticals
This article is a part of a series titled " ABCD of Digital Ads for pharma". For reading part 1 article of the series click here
I do paint sometimes and call them "abstracts." My wife calls them "absurds." The same happens with most marketers when doctors see most pharma visual aids or tab communication. We all agree, whether they express it or not, our visual aids have often got doctors annoyed.
Imagine, today, if you convert your visual aid communication into a digital ad with some PowerPoint-like animation and voice over, expect that HCPs will click "skip ad" mentally because it neither has the power nor any point.
A Digital Ad Is Not To Be Thought Isolated.
For a brand manager, the most important skill-set is knowing how to create effective digital ads that are engaging and completes the loop.
Did you know even digital has "conversion"?
In reality, we say "conversion" when a doctor starts writing your brand.
In digital, the conversion rate is the percentage of users browsing through a page, sees your ad, clicks on it, goes to some other landing page, and takes an action you wanted him/her to take. Here, conversion means an action like filling a form, replying, registering for some CME, or purchasing. That's where the loop gets complete. So as a brand manager when you think of creating an ad, think of a complete experience journey for the doctor.
During Pre-COVID, the job was done if a doctor would even see the visual page. Now in digital, a doctor seeing your ad is the first step. How you plan his/her experience journey is your onus.
Remember till the time a potential consumer is not exposed to your brand many times, he might not notice your brand, forget buying it.
Facts In Its Place
Let's get some relevant facts and quick inferences.
- As per previous Google Analytics Data, India adds almost 10 million new smartphone users every month with around 500 million already on smartphones. So, we have users.
- Two barriers to tech usage were expensive data and the cost of smartphones. Both are taken care of now with data becoming cheaper than a water bottle and smartphone available as low as Rs. 3000/-.
- India is the world's first video-consuming nation. It is said that India has 5 to 6 times more affinity towards video than static content.
- As per Perficient insights, 68.1% of all website visits in 2020 came from mobile devices.
That means as marketers, you need to keep in mind that your ads should be mobile-friendly. While I see the behavior of the doctors is slightly different.
- According to different reports and my experience, a doctor uses a smartphone in 45% of cases while a laptop or desktop in 40% of cases. The remaining chunk goes to a tablet or phablet. This gives us a good scope to have multiple forms of ads.
- I can also vouch for the fact that while connecting socially or for basic searches, most doctors use a smartphone. While they prefer a laptop or desktop for his/her work-related stuff like learning, reading, accessing journals, electronic health records (EHR), etc.
- >70% of Indian doctors think the internet is the go-to place to know more about the latest drug molecules and related information.
- 25–26% of doctors like to network with peers, which must be going high in lockdown.
Display ads capture people's attention across the platform of web and apps. The most common sizes that are prevalent are measured in pixels below. There are a dozen others than these in which Large Mobile Banner (300 × 100) are also popular among Google. The most viewed ad size on web & apps are 1) Half Page (300 × 600), 2) Large Rectangle (336 × 280), 3) Medium Rectangle (300 × 250) & 4) Leader Board (728 × 90)
How Can We Create Good Ads?
There is never a thumb rule in creativity. However, some principles can be derived out of branding, messaging & advertising when correlated to the behavior of consumers. Unlike physical visual aids, marketers get a chance to enhance engagement through attention, interest, desire, and action in digital.
These can be designed in static and also in GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) or a mix of both. My personal choice would be partially GIF and partially static that won't look irritating yet be attention-getting.
However, the format you choose entirely depends on the messaging objective.
COGNOTONIC – A case study
Here is my imaginary brand "Cognotonic", to drive points. Based on the above specified most common digital ads in pixels, I have tried to show important factors that will surely help you. (Though many of you can visualize even better)
The above ad may not be fantastic. However, I have ensured some of the common errors we might commit emerging from our Visual aids and LBLs.
So based on what I feel, here are ABCDs you have to follow for a good digital ad.
1. Align & Arrange
Arrange your layout and design with few basic aspects not being missed. Keep it simple and clear.
- The core message that answers the "1" pressing problem of the doctor.
- Brand Logo / Corporate Logo
- CTA (Call To Action)
Ensure that your communication and messaging in physical and digital are the same. The same has to be consistent throughout all platforms including your sales teams' verbatim. Arrange your copy in order of readability across all platforms including your physical visual aids or on tabs. Be consistent with the arrangement.
2. Border & Benefit
Remember, your ad will be seen by a doctor when you or your field team is not around. Hence, the attention span is much lesser in digital. You can enhance his attention span provided your ad is worth attention and give the doctor an experience to remember instead of just viewing. The web or app platforms are different. Each of them unique with no similarities.
If your ad gets slots on sites of medical content, there are chances that the ads may go lost in the crowd of the site content and never get noticed. A simple solution is if your digital ads have clear borders, there are chances that they won't get lost on a web page or app.
When you outline the ads, ensure either
1) You are talking about the most pressing problem of a doctor. Or
2) Ensure your end benefit.
In both cases, you need to keep either doctor and/or the patient as a hero. What I mean is the human central character.
3. Copy & Color
Good copywriting is knowing what not to write. Remember, the left brain processes sound, and the right one visuals. It's known. So if your ad has too many printed words/text, it enters the right brain first. It decodes it as a word and sends it to the left brain with just the "sound" of a word. Wait, all this happens in less than 50 milliseconds. So, keep the copy simple and minimalist. We have often killed the very purpose many times by adding too much text, many of our visual aids have no visuals.
Ensure to have clear visuals that depict what you mean. If you have started to make an ad, then I suggest starting your work on copy and design briefing to your agency in descending order of sizes.
From largest size to the smallest. It will keep your copy to a minimum yet meaningful. Often most of the websites where doctors frequently visit have a light background. Thus, in such cases, it is advisable to have your ad made with dark backgrounds. The picture and foreground should have your brand on a light band. It helps. Ensure to make sure to feel the depth in it. That grabs the eyeballs due to the mind getting diverted to 3D effects on bland text-based scientific websites/webpages/microsites.
Most of the websites, be it medical, journal or social media are in blue and white. Hence, try not to use white or blue colors in your ads. Rather use vibrant colors that match your brand color.
Last but not least red penetrates deep & command attention.
4. Dopamine & Dynamic
Remember, even doctors are humans. And like all humans, if you tell them a truth (scientific facts and figures like we always do) they will only believe. However, if you tell a story around your brand, they will remember your brand for longer. When you need to tell a story quickly, a GIF is better.
It is observed that an animated ad outperforms a static ad by 8–10%. While a 6 to 10 seconds animation had a better conversion rate over static ads. Ads with human images perform better. Ads with "Slice of life" is even better. So, showing a heart, brain, or lungs or some medical imaging is not always a necessity. As humans, we buy a product through an emotional decision backed by logic. So I feel, the ad should have emotion first with logic to make it complete.
Ads which are dynamic and emotional are more favorable to release dopamine. No need to tell that how dopamine helps to remember something through an evoked emotion. Evoke relief, evoke healing, evoke positive outcomes in your ads.
Brand managers also need to learn performance a metric like RICC (Reach, Impressions, Clicks, and Conversions) to monitor the returns.
Sharing content, building communities, and engaging is more to do with social media marketing. Content marketing has more to do with blogs, articles, build-up of an opinion through organic and push. Organic and boosted digital promotions are the way to go.
Make sure your ad campaigns when you plan have layers of engagement that cover RICC and not just "Reach".
I leave it here for you to think more about ads as there is a lot to learn. This was more about creating ads and not ad campaigns which are even deeper.