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SUMMARY: More than 42,000 programmatic ads from 4,315 brands are running on websites spouting misinformation about the vaccine and COVID over the past year. Included in the programmatic ad errors is Pfizer, who developed a leading COVID vaccine. When will pharma stop using programmatic online ads?

Programmatic has been a thorn in online advertisers. Brands don’t often have power over where their programmatic ads are appearing online, due to third-party vendors. NewsGuard found that 67% of the COVID misinformation sites had Google advertising tags and 30% had tags from The Trade Desk.


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SUMMARY: This month, McKinsey agreed to pay nearly $600m to settle claims that its advice had exacerbated the deadly US opioid crisis, yet pharma views McKinsey as business gurus. This has to stop, and NOW!

McKinsey is loaded with MBAs addicted to spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations, so of course, they know about patients and pharma? McKinsey’s recommendations to Purdue were directly aimed at extreme sales improvement, and the analysis failed to address the potential of specific incentives to increase addictive, destructive behavior.

Milton Friedman introduced the idea that maximising shareholder value should be a company’s primary goal. That led to an insane push for profitability at all costs and fines for illegal marketing became just a line expense.

So how do we fix this? By focusing on the “ moral responsibility of enterprise”. Most of…


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SUMMARY: COVID-19 has caused substantial increases in the number of avoidable cancer deaths due to diagnostic and treatment delays. People who need healthcare are avoiding it because of COVID-related concerns, and in some cases, it costs them their lives. Where are healthcare companies?

Recent data has revealed that the increase in the COVID-19 positivity rate correlates to an increase in mortality from non-coronavirus-related diseases, including cancer.

In one retrospective study, 9.1% of lung cancer patients decided to delay their cancer treatments, of which 80% chose to delay treatments themselves rather than as a result of a clinician or family request.


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OPENING: Online health seekers decide whether to stay on your website within the first five seconds of landing on your homepage. They decide if your site addresses their questions after looking at 1.24 pages. Here are what I found in over two years of research with online health seekers.

Remember that every health condition has particular needs and wants by their audience, but it’s clear that certain qualities overlap. So let’s get right into it…

1ne: It takes about 50 milliseconds (that’s 0.05 seconds) for users to form an opinion about your website that determines whether they like your site or not, whether they’ll stay or leave.

The homepage should be warm and inviting and should not overwhelm website visitors. Consistently we heard that they like images of real patients or a REAL doctor with one key message communicated. The message should not be “medical terminology” but, instead, put…


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AI in the pharma industry has the ability to transform certain capabilities. DTC marketers can tap into AI to help deliver relevant messages to certain audiences, but they shouldn’t let AI do all their thinking.

According to Forbes AI can be used within pharma for:

However, in DTC marketing, we should be careful about using AI in an era where too many patients feel like our healthcare system is dehumanizing them.

People want to do business with other people-as AI picks up, companies will want to give careful thought to the roles and tasks that become automated.


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SUMMARY: DigitalHealth.com, a British website, had a fascinating look at the use of health apps during the pandemic. Among their findings:

  • Downloads of apps supporting consumers with mental health needs increased by nearly 200% from summer 2019 to summer 2020
  • Downloads of those supporting consumers with diets and weight loss rose by a massive 1294% from mid-2019 to mid-2020.

Some may see this as a good sign but we need to proceed with caution.

When I first read these statistics, I thought, “what a great opportunity,” but I wanted to check with some physician thought leaders. They were a bit taken back when I read the stats to them; when I probed some more, their response was, “if patients are using…


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SUMMARY: “How big pharma takeovers destroy innovation” a report from Congresswoman Porter does make some points. Still, she is missing a lot of facts at a time when hospital and health insurance costs are soaring.

I always have pointed instances in which pharma puts Wall Street first and patients second. Ms. Porter points out that R&D seems to have been replaced with mergers and acquisitions, but she misses the big picture by focusing solely on drug costs.

Here are some of her key points from the report:

1ne: In just 10 years, the number of large, international pharmaceutical companies decreased six-fold,from60 to only 10.

2wo: The number of mergers and acquisitions(M&A) involving one of the top 25 firms in the pharmaceutical industry more than doubled from 2006 to 2016, and the practice doesn’t seem to…


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DISCUSSION POINT: Social media’s ability to control public opinion and lead to acts of violence are reflective of the real power they have over our daily lives. With the power of so many people using their platforms, social media companies have a responsibility to users, and they are failing miserably.

Keeping us engaged on social media is how Big Tech makes money, and the past four years have proven lies and conspiracy theories are unfortunately more engaging than the truth. But when it comes to outright lies and misinformation on social media, the line between the first amendment and social media gets distorted quickly.

Talksonlaw.com says;

“Do you have a right not to be kicked off a social media platform?” is no! You have no such right. …


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SUMMARY: Facebook and Twitter face a decade-long reckoning over their role in the US’s political upheaval as well as the spread of false and fake information. Social media platforms have to do a better job balancing innovation with its effects on society.

Social media has too much power and needs to be reined in. The violence that hit Washington, D.C., is just one small example of how social media can promote violence, but it goes beyond that. The spread of false and misleading information on Facebook and Twitter is prevalent. …


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HEY NOW: If you want a great example of why pharma needs to build expertise in-house and rely less on agencies, read the newest white paper from Intouch Group. I read the whitepaper, and it was full of vague obscurities that are, frankly, embarrassing.

Want a great example of agency babble? Read this..

“Pharma needs to turn what was a very smart, fast patchwork of change into something that becomes sustainable, durable and scalable, and start supporting HCPs in a complete shift in paradigm,” said Ariel Salmang, Managing Director, Intouch International. Now is the time to reinvent strategies to overcome challenges and improve outcomes.

What the?

Richard A Meyer

Marketing contrarian with over 15 years of developing leading edge and award winning digital marketing initiatives.

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