Market mix modeling and digital attribution models are established means for measuring advertising investment. Digital attribution models, in the retail setting specifically, are proven to work with a high degree of accuracy because actions tend to be immediate and can, therefore, be tracked to specific behaviors.
The factors that drive behavior in pharma, however, are not as immediate and happen “offline” as people purchase medications away from where decisions are made between them and their doctors. The steps and time associated with the transaction, in combination with the social and emotional impact of living with a chronic condition, make attribution models less accurate.
So, why then does pharma accept proprietary attribution models from third-party measurement companies to measure the impact of marketing campaigns?
The reality is that gauging the impact of pharma marketing is more art than science, and that reality is often overlooked. As marketers, we are expected to trust in the science, but what happens when the proprietary methods that provide the science don’t measure up? For pharma, truly understanding the “art” of meeting people where they are and attaching a brand to high-quality audiences through organic, contextually relevant environments has proven to trump the science of proprietary methodologies, based on my experience of measuring more than 200 pharma campaigns during my time at Comscore.
The science of attribution isn’t a true success measure in pharma for all the reasons noted. Deeply understanding true unmet needs and how people interact with their condition - and attaching your brands to that understanding - will lead to smarter, more effective decisions about how to invest.
So, as marketers consider how to invest, instead of asking for the inputs into a proprietary model that are irrelevant to “where your patients are,” they must think about the only KPI that matters: audience quality, which measures how well the reached audience matches with the intended recipients of an advertisement.
And through this lens, they need to be able to answer three important questions. First, what advertisements would I respond to if I were in this situation? In addition to considering their own preconceptions and experiences, marketers also need to put themselves in the shoes of the people they’re looking to reach. Second, where am I best served to surface content or advertise online that will truly connect with people? Third, how can I maximize my presence around that content or advertising?
Pharma marketers know that decisions in pharma are complex, multi-faceted and emotional. The best way to maximize investment is to be present around relevant quality content where the right audiences can come together, connect with each other and engage. The only measurement KPI that marketers can purchase that truly matters is audience quality -- the art ruling the science.