Mobile is no longer a “nice to have” medium – with mobile becoming a primary medium for physicians and consumers, pharma should put it in the “need to have” category. Over the past several years the mobile phone has been elevated from a device used exclusively for on-the-go calls to an everyday necessity used for directions, dining out, shopping, and work. According to the 2015 U.S. Mobile App Report released by comScore, over the past two years, total digital media usage has grown 49% while mobile apps have grown 90% and are contributing to 77% of the total increase in time spent with digital media. The mobile channel offers a unique opportunity to reach physicians and patients throughout their workflow and on the go; the mobile channel is important and pharmaceutical advertisers should incorporate it as part of their media mix.
HCP Mobile Use
During work flow, physicians are looking for quick information. According to CMI/Compas Media Vitals™ findings, the task performed most often on a physician’s smartphone and/or tablet is to search online. Mobile search can be a huge driver of website traffic, typically accounting (among our clients) for 35-50% of search queries depending on disease state and brand lifecycle. It is imperative that websites are mobile optimized in order to avoid disruption to the user when they reach their destination. HCPs are also largely using their mobile devices to read medical news. Advertisers should align their promotional messaging to the content being consumed in each channel. Mobile messages or banners are ideal for short product announcements or clinical updates while desktop is still the go-to for longer-form educational content.
Mobile Search Opportunities
For physicians and consumers alike, mobile search on engines like Google have become commonplace. In general, physicians search more often on mobile devices than they ever had, including prior to, during, and after patient appointments.
In addition to convenience, patients often rely on mobile devices to provide a private platform for them to self-diagnose or research treatment options, indicated by search activity on disease states that have more “personal” symptoms.
In fact, in May 2015, Google announced that Google searches on mobile devices have officially surpassed those on desktops in 10 countries, including the US and Japan. ComScore’s qSearch Platform study reiterated the rise of mobile search, reporting that smartphone usage is showing a consistent annual growth (~20%).
With Google embracing this new trend, the urgency for pharmaceutical companies to develop mobile-friendly sites grows significantly. Mobile-friendly sites will experience higher organic rankings on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) due to Google’s new AMP initiative. Additionally, a favorable user experience of a mobile visitor through paid search will result in better cost efficiencies and stronger penetration on relevant searches. By not advertising in the mobile space, or doing it the wrong way, pharmaceutical companies are missing an enormous market share and potential ROI that has allowed search to be the largest and most cost-efficient source of website traffic.
Mobile Web vs Mobile Apps
Mobile Web is the use of browser-based Internet from a mobile device, whereas a mobile app refers to a software application developed specifically for a mobile device. While mobile web tends to be bundled with a desktop media buy, app inventory is often sold separately.
Mobile/tablet app usage is on the rise with 3 in 4 smartphone users reporting that they keep their most used app on their home screen and fully in-view, outside the confines of an app folder, according to comScore. In the professional space, medical journals and information sources are realizing the convenience that mobile apps allow and according to Media Vitals™ drug reference apps such as Epocrates are cited as one of the most important digital sources over some of the largest HCP portals. Apps have created a new avenue for information to be absorbed by physicians and we as advertisers must continue to push these new apps to evolve along with popular consumer apps.
While it’s easier to build a large audience on the desktop and mobile Web because of more fluid linking of content; apps have still been reported as the number one means of digital media consumption. Even though establishing app audiences is harder, they are much more loyal consumers: app visitors spend 18x more time on apps than mobile web visitors (comScore). cost-efficient source of website traffic.
Overview of Mobile Creative
Before diving into the mobile space, it is important to understand the nuances of mobile devices and optimize creative for a truly enhanced experience.
When utilizing banners, some standard sizes will work on mobile devices (i.e. 300×250, 728×90) but do not receive the same perceptibility as smaller, mobile-specific sizes do. CMI recommends creating unique mobile units for each campaign such as 300×50 or 320×50. It is also a best practice that mobile assets on smartphones are not “click-to-expand” due to limited screen size.
Popular apps such as Facebook and Twitter are helping to create a standard across apps largely centered on short-form content. Advertisers have responded to this increase in demand for content with native ads that can be included in the newsfeed as part of a seamless browsing experience. When scrolling down a Facebook newsfeed, videos automatically play as they’re passed, eliminating the act of clicking a “play” button, which delays content interaction. CMI recommends exploring mobile native in-app video ads as they can be very effective, especially when adapting ad creative for short-form viewing.
Measuring Mobile Success
With this surge in mobile usage and engagement it has become imperative that advertisers measure and report on this channel separately from desktop media. ComScore reports that mobile ads not only work, but they work much better than desktop ads on average – particularly at the bottom of the funnel (intent to buy or recommend).
With that being said, measurement effectiveness still challenges a lot of advertisers and marketers. Viewability, an industry hot topic, is causing the most issues when it comes to measuring mobile effectiveness. According to eMarketer, differing treatments of mobile viewable impressions in vendors’ reporting is the root cause. Currently, the Media Rating Council’s viewable impressions guidelines are written with only desktop in mind, not mobile. It is recommended to break out mobile tags and pricing separately from desktop for each buy as it combats uncertainty and ensures accurate ROI.
No longer should pharmaceutical advertisers view mobile as a separate channel. Multichannel marketing campaigns need to span all devices to ensure your target audience can easily access information on your brand. Users are consuming content on a variety of platforms and each allow specific engagement whether it be long- or short-form. CMI/Compas recommends analyzing your target audience to reach them through the appropriate and preferred avenues – it is likely that mobile media will be one of those. Schedules should then include a balance of mobile web and app placements, utilize mobile-specific creative, and be contracted and tagged in order to maximize mobile-specific reporting capabilities.