Google exec figures pharma could go viral on YouTube--if it tried

Google's healthcare-focused digital marketing team leader David Blair

The champions of digital marketing pounded their chests in dismay earlier this month, when 2013 DTC-spending stats showed online ads on the wane. Down by 14%, and the numbers were pretty paltry to begin with.

No wonder, then, that Google ($GOOG) is lobbying the pharma business on YouTube's behalf.

Drugmakers aren't complete YouTube neophytes; Pfizer ($PFE) famously posted Viagra ads on the online video site. These days, YouTube is featured in new DTC campaigns for Astellas' overactive bladder drug Myrbetriq, Forest Laboratories ($FRX) and Ironwood's ($IRWD) constipation treatment Linzess, and Auxilium's ($AUXL) ED treatment Stendra, among others.

But David Blair, who heads up a healthcare-focused digital marketing team at Google, figures pharma can use YouTube a lot more--and to greater effect. As MedCity News reports, online media reached a milestone last fall, when Americans spent more time surfing the Internet than they did watching TV. Plus, television is increasingly fragmented, with more than half of all viewership on very small networks. That may allow precise targeting of audiences, but not a lot of depth.

On YouTube, videos are multiplying like supercharged bacteria, and one-third of viewers do what pharma would like engaged patients to do--they share. Some 700 videos a minute. Plus, YouTube is the second-largest search engine after Google, Blair said at a recent Eye for Pharma conference.

As an enticement, Blair held out that "Real Beauty" video from Unilever's Dove brand, which went viral and has now been viewed 62.7 million times. It triggered an emotional response--something pharma might achieve with a disease-awareness video or a wellness campaign.

Easier said than done, of course. As MedCity points out, pharma marketers have to figure out how to attract the first viewers to their YouTube offerings. No one can share a video if they haven't seen it. Plus, YouTube has to be part of a well-considered digital marketing effort. And persistent social media worries have some drugmakers hamstrung online.

- read the MedCity article

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