Is a lack of metrics pharma’s wet innovation dishrag?

Rivers of Choices

The fear of innovation is heightened without the clarity of metrics.

Over the summer, we spoke with Joyce, a brand manager, and Paul, a cross-functional digital expert. Both work for big pharma. We showed them our Click-to-Closet EHR-integration program. Currently, Click-to-Closet is not bleeding edge. For over two  years, the program has produced outstanding results for other clients. But to Joyce and Paul’s company, the whole idea of it is spanking new.

Who knows what Joyce and Paul will do in the end, but the road to gain the buy-in of their company has been rocky and discouraging. At the same time that management says they  need more channels to reach prescribers, at the same time that they say they need IDN-centric programs and ACA-centric programs and quantitative ROI … they say this program, even though it meets all their criteria, isn’t “proven by their standards.” So what does “proven by their standards” mean?

I was taking a look at EPG Health Media’s latest multi-channel marketing report and had a little epiphany on page 30:

  • “…Half of all pharma and agency respondent believe that metrics in general are collated but not well understood or given high priority.”
  • “When asked about attitudes towards analytics and metrics for campaigns, more than 50% of pharma and agency respondents indicated that these were not fully analysed or acted upon. Furthermore, not one agency respondent reported that metrics were seen as ‘key to driving future campaigns’ or were ‘integrated across channels’ by their pharma clients.”
  • “The fact that 94% of pharma respondents indicated that ‘experience from previous campaigns’ was a key influencer on future activities, and yet most respondents accept that there is failure to measure, understand and act upon the metrics of those activities, raises questions as to how valuable this ‘experience’ is.”

Aha. So now I understand. There is no ROI yardstick that a pharma brand can carry around the vendor shopping mall and measure new programs against their “control” previous campaigns. In fact, the only programs in the shopping mall may be ones that have been done before, in some form or another.

I guess I understand this. Brand marketers get fired over expensive bad decisions these days and you don’t get fired for buying something you can blame on your predecessor or your boss.

The only problem is that marketing in general is driving off in a fast car. Pharma marketers could find themselves sitting on a horse wondering where everybody went.


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