Bayer blazes new trails for pharma with Betaseron Facebook ad

Bayer’s Facebook ad campaign for multiple sclerosis drug Betaseron and its Betaconnect injector launched this month with several firsts. It's not only Bayer’s first Facebook ad, but it's also the first time Facebook has enabled a scrolling ISI inside a pharma ad.

Scrolling safety information allowed Bayer to stay inside text and photo limits of a pre-determined ad box but still meet FDA guidelines for necessary risk information. While some pharmas already do that in banner ads, it had not been done inside Facebook ads until this campaign, said Craig Hashi, Facebook Health client partner, who--along with Ozgun Demir, associate director of emarketing at Bayer--talked about the work at the Digital Pharma East conference last week.

Bayer's Betaconnect autoinjector was approved one year ago by the FDA for the delivery of Betaseron, a treatment for relapsing-remitting MS that was approved in 1993. The quieter and customizable injector was seen as one way for the decades-old treatment to differentiate among modern MS treatments. Its competition includes Teva's Copaxone and Sandoz's Copaxone knockoff Glatopa in injectables, along with oral drugs Tecfidera from Biogen, Gilenya from Novartis and Aubagio from Sanofi's Genzyme.

In looking to promote the autoinjector on Facebook to mobile users, Bayer had to decide whether to create organic content and build a community or do paid media buys placed in news feeds, Demir said. Ultimately, the company decided on paid media because it works well on mobile devices and could be delivered quickly and on a limited budget. All Demir had to do was get the Legal Medical Regulatory (LMR) team on board. He got approval by walking the teams through Facebook--even setting up accounts for LMR people who didn’t have them--and getting them familiar with the platform.

Another new feature of the ad is the “call now” button, a feature Facebook added last year for business ads. However, for the Betaconnect ad, the phone button is connected to a live nursing-staffed line. To accommodate the real-time interaction, the ad was set up to run only between the weekday hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.  

The Betaconnect Facebook campaign is using Lead Ads, which allows users to click to sign up for more information without leaving the site and with the ability to input the person's Facebook account data, such as name and email address, into the form. Going from the initial idea for the ad to publish took about four weeks, Hashi said.

Bayer uses Facebook's targeting to reach people on the platform who are interested in MS-related information, Demir said. The end result? A 96% decrease in costs per lead. It also increases the number of leads, so much so that it has at times overwhelmed the nursing staff, he said.

The success of the campaign was the result of taking a "laddered approach” by building up to the more sophisticated elements of the campaign, Demir said.

“Support from higher up inside Bayer really helped, along with having a good relationship with LMR,” he said at the conference.

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