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Google Big Pharma Marketing

Using social media to mine data can help big Pharma with customer discovery, study suggests

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By Laurie Fullerton, Freelance Writer

May 16, 2016 | 3 min read

One of the biggest challenges facing marketers in the biotech and pharmaceutical sector is both limited access to data regarding patients and medical professionals and the structuring of information so that patients, healthcare providers, physicians and consumers are able to access information that they can relate to. In other words, big Pharma may have a miracle drug but unless companies can harness digital resources and analytics to introduce more effective marketing approaches to discover where customer opportunity lies, their products and marketing strategies may be overlooked.

While most companies rely heavily on data and data mining to personalize their marketing strategies and target audiences, a report suggests that it is not as quite as straightforward in big Pharma. Because of government regulations and patient confidentiality, Pharma companies cannot legally obtain private medical practices regarding a patient or any confidential patient information. For this reason, big pharma companies tend to leverage personal data conservatively to avoid running into regulatory disputes.

However, they do have the potential to engage with their patients or clients in all aspects of their online life today.

With one in 20 searches on Google now related to health, everything from social media to mobile devices offer new avenues for big Pharma to mine data. The Fitbit or smart watch wearer is now a perpetually moving insight engine bringing in a flood of data with ethnographic and attitudinal insights. Points of engagement in healthcare are now more interactive and generate greater insight into what consumers are doing. With 50 per cent of primary care physicians surveyed noting that they do share information from online videos with patients, it is clear that there are new and increasingly richer data sources that big Pharma marketers can and should now harness for more effective use. Developing a comprehensive understanding of how best to treat a condition requires understanding the condition from the patient's point of view and that is an option open to big Pharma today as well.

For example, according to the report, the company Galderma did extensive research on the behavior of patients who used its acne treatment EpiDuo. The brand found that after a short time, patients abandoned the treatment. The company then developed an app designed to show improvement in ones acne over time. Patients were encouraged to take 'self-ies' and then compare these photos over a number of days to show improvement.

Further, looking at past behavior by patients and physicians is a critical indicator of future intentions. In other words, Google looked at searches on the subject of schizophrenia and breast cancer over one year. The peak search times for information on schizophrenia happened late at night while searches on breast cancer often involved how, why, when, what and where questions. What brands need to do, the report suggests is understand better what people want when they engage in a search for a therapy or symptoms of a disease. Becoming the brand that is most helpful when a person needs information most can be beneficial in building customer loyalty and brand approval and awareness.

Google Big Pharma Marketing

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