Restasis' first foray into Facebook drives big results for Allergan

In Allergan's first social media dive for dry eye treatment Restasis last fall, it went all in on a Facebook digital campaign. The result? Measurements including brand impressions, ad recall and video views that rose well above the norm.

The campaign began with Allergan looking for a brand refresh for blockbuster Restasis, which had been on the market for 13 years. The drug was facing competition for the first time thanks to Shire’s Xiidra, launched last August.

So the pharma turned to Facebook, where Restasis did not have a presence. Facebook, working with digital agency Pascale Communications, as well as FCB Health and Mediacom, launched a Restasis page and began testing a variety of content and media formats. One of the first ideas the team settled on was creating top-level brand awareness driven by patient testimonial videos.

The team then worked on how to tailor specific content and information to relevant consumers at the right time. For instance, it created link ads that interested potential patients could click on to get a Restasis dry-eye quiz that would gauge the level of their eye problems. Going even more targeted, the campaign served up savings cards at different moments when a patient expressed that deeper interest.

The advantage of social media was the ability to take consumer insights and incorporate them back into the campaign while it was still running, Pascale’s head of digital Christian Rodgers said in an interview. The partners found out, for instance, that people were sometimes confused about the savings card, and so they tweaked the explanations and wording in those creative executions.

All told, the patient testimonial videos got more than 3.5 million views, while the overall work generated 35 million impressions and resulted in a 10.5% lift in ad recall.

“We’re having a lot of discussions with clients about media consumption,” Rodgers said. “We’re seeing in general that pharma companies spend about 8 times more on television than on digital. … While 60-second repeat, repeat, repeat commercials can still be effective, a lot of patients today are building relationships with brands in shorter five-second bursts through more personal and mobile interactions.”

For Facebook, the Restasis campaign is a good example of how its pharma-targeted practice, which was formed a year and a half ago, is evolving, Danielle Salowski, Facebook Health’s industry manager, said in an interview. Facebook Health began by establishing relationships with pharma companies, creating campaigns and launching work that leveraged the network’s reach and scale. Now, the division is working with pharma companies to deliver targeted and more personalized health messages that get “back to their roots,” Salowski said.

“(Drug) messages are still going to be delivered by doctors, but when it comes to DTC, we have to think about context when we’re delivering messages to patients. We’re trying to reach someone on a mobile device where it’s a completely personal experience … so we want to make sure we’re delivering a personal experience to the right person at the right time,” she said. “We believe brands can do that in a smart way through strong creative and smart targeting to make it a more personal experience than just a blast TV commercial.”