Archive for November, 2009

PhRMA Proposes FDA-Approved Logo for Marketing in Social Media

Industry, Government Grapple With New Frontier in Day 1 of Hearings

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — PhRMA is advocating for a universal safety symbol — either the FDA logo itself or an FDA-approved symbol — to indicate that a Twitter or Facebook mention links to a page that contains the pharmaceutical company’s FDA-mandated risk information.

The lobbying group for the pharmaceutical industry made its case during the first day of the two-day U.S. Food and Drug Administration public hearings in Washington. The hearings are designed to establish guidelines for how pharmaceutical companies go to market on the web and social-media sites.

And while 31 speakers representing such power players as drug maker Eli Lilly and search giant Google each had 15 minutes to present their respective cases to a 12-member FDA panel, perhaps none was more compelling than the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association, which caught the panel’s attention.

The panel, led by Thomas Abrams, the FDA’s division of drug marketing, advertising and communications director, peppered PhRMA assistant general counsel Jeffrey K. Francer with questions after his presentation had concluded.

“Consumers on the internet are accustomed to viewing pop-ups, rollover text, links and other communication mechanisms,” Mr. Francer said. “FDA should recognize, as the [Federal Trade Commission] has, that space limitations in certain formats warrant allowing certain long warnings to be accessed using a prominently labeled hyperlink.”

Lack of guidelines

The lack of regulatory guidelines for marketing via tools such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs and websites, came to a head in April of this year when the FDA sent warning letters to 14 companies for search-engine ads that the FDA said violated regulations regarding presentation of fair balance. The reaction from drug makers, health-care ad agencies and internet sites was unanimous — it’s impossible for the same risk information that is conveyed in a 30-second television spot or a full-page magazine ad to be duplicated in a 140-character Twitter message or internet banner ad, hence the need for a defined set of guidelines for Web 2.0 marketing.

According to TNS Media Intelligence, internet spending by drug makers zoomed 36% to $137 million last year but, according to a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, that represented less than 2% of the $10.9 billion spent on online advertising. In part, that was due to a lack of regulation and a fear by drug makers of FDA retribution.

Michele Sharp, senior director of U.S. regulatory affairs for drug maker Eli Lilly, said the dubious rules regarding internet advertising are so ambiguous that her company has, reluctantly, not pursued online and social-media marketing as it should.

Though the public-hearing process takes months to play out, Tiffany A. Mura, managing partner/director-digital for Boston-based Consensus Interactive, urged the FDA to institute its guidelines sooner than later.

“Guidelines need to be implemented in 2010,” Ms. Mura said. “Months are the equivalent of years on the web.”

Need for clarity in online advertising

Yahoo VP-General Manager of Display Advertising David Zinman said there’s a need for greater clarity in advertising online.

“We firmly believe the ad rules should be commensurate with the media,” he said.

Craig M. Audet, VP-regulatory affairs marketed products for pharma giant Sanofi-Aventis, noted that 83% of all internet users look online for health information, according to Pew Research, and he likened the conversation between a company’s website and a consumer to a conversation between a sales representative and a physician.

“I would say that any postings online would have those same characteristics,” Mr. Audet said.

Some 32 speakers are scheduled to present on Friday. The FDA said it received more than 800 registrants wishing to speak at the public hearings.

By Rich Thomaselli

Published: November 12, 2009

http://adage.com/article?article_id=140513

Google Has A Plan For Safer, More Useful Online Drug Ads

When Google talks about online ads, everybody listens.

So check out the Internet giant’s idea for rejiggering online promotion of prescription drugs to pass muster with the Food and Drug Administration.

Here’s the way Google would like to do it: A link headline would go to a designated landing page, warning language would be a permanent part of the sponsored link, and “more info” would lead a person to details about risks. For drugs carrying black-box labels, there would be a special kind of sponsored link to emphasize safety information.

Google made its pitch today at a public meeting the agency convened for input on rules for communication between companies and consumers on the Web.

Recall that in early April the agency slapped 14 pharmaceutical companies with stern warnings about sponsored links, those search results someone pays to have come up on your computer screen.

The basic problem, as FDA’s letter to Pfizer explained, was the omission of information about risk in the links that mentioned what the drugs are supposed to treat.

In the absence of specific regulations, the industry had pretty much settled on the idea that risk information that was “one click away” would be do the job. That “one-click” rule of thumb was demolished by the agency’s flurry of letters.

Since the crackdown, sponsored links have been scrubbed of the information that FDA didn’t like (such as mentions of what a drug is used for) but that consumers were interested in. Google’s Amy Cowan said at the FDA meeting that clickthrough rates have gone down dramatically as a result.

So what does the FDA think of Google’s proposal? To our disappointment, the FDA panel had no comments or questions about the presentation, the last one of the day.

By Scott Hensley

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2009/11/google_has_a_plan_for_safer_on.html

Google Has A Plan For Safer, More Useful Online Drug Ads

When Google talks about online ads, everybody listens.

So check out the Internet giant’s idea for rejiggering online promotion of prescription drugs to pass muster with the Food and Drug Administration.

Here’s the way Google would like to do it: A link headline would go to a designated landing page, warning language would be a permanent part of the sponsored link, and “more info” would lead a person to details about risks. For drugs carrying black-box labels, there would be a special kind of sponsored link to emphasize safety information.

Google made its pitch today at a public meeting the agency convened for input on rules for communication between companies and consumers on the Web.

Recall that in early April the agency slapped 14 pharmaceutical companies with stern warnings about sponsored links, those search results someone pays to have come up on your computer screen.

The basic problem, as FDA’s letter to Pfizer explained, was the omission of information about risk in the links that mentioned what the drugs are supposed to treat.

In the absence of specific regulations, the industry had pretty much settled on the idea that risk information that was “one click away” would be do the job. That “one-click” rule of thumb was demolished by the agency’s flurry of letters.

Since the crackdown, sponsored links have been scrubbed of the information that FDA didn’t like (such as mentions of what a drug is used for) but that consumers were interested in. Google’s Amy Cowan said at the FDA meeting that clickthrough rates have gone down dramatically as a result.

So what does the FDA think of Google’s proposal? To our disappointment, the FDA panel had no comments or questions about the presentation, the last one of the day.

By Scott Hensley

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2009/11/google_has_a_plan_for_safer_on.html

Good Old Longevity! It Has Appeal in Ads

With the recession driving companies out of business, some of the older ones that have survived (so far) make a point of mentioning their longevity in their ad campaigns. While this assures consumers they’re not fly-by-night outfits, does it also make such companies seem stodgy and/or old-fashioned?

Apparently not, to judge by the results of an AdweekMedia/Harris Poll. Seventy-one percent of respondents said such ads make them think the company is “solid and reliable.”

Just a handful said it makes them think “The company is trying to hide current problems” (3 percent) or “is old-fashioned and out of touch” (2 percent). Note, though, that 24 percent weren’t sure how to take such advertising.

The polling (conducted in September) found female respondents slightly more inclined than their male counterparts to regard these advertisers as “solid and reliable,” 75 percent vs. 66 percent.

By  Mark Dolliver

http://www.adweek.com/aw/content_display/news/agency/e3i8875589fada415ac84397be8eeb16b2e?imw=Y

Why Google Is Buying AdMob

If approved, the deal will give the search engine a big head start in cell-phone advertising

In a move likely to give a big boost to the mobile-phone ad market, Google announced on Nov. 9 that it’s buying AdMob, a provider of mobile ad technologies, for $750 million in stock.

If approved, the acquisition would provide Google (GOOG) with a key set of technologies to expand its advertising business beyond search-related text ads that make up the bulk of revenue. “Google could have built this itself, but this gives them a head start,” says mobile analyst Greg Sterling of Sterling Market Intelligence. “It will thrust Google into the forefront of mobile display ads.” Google has already pushed into the wireless market by backing the development of Android, an operating system used in smartphones such as Motorola’s (MOT) new Droid, carried by Verizon Wireless.

Google’s third-largest acquisition to date, AdMob would give its new owner the ability to serve display ads, the pictorial banners that are the chief revenue source for most Web sites, to cell phones and other mobile devices. Google last June introduced a program called AdSense for Mobile in a bid to land display ads on mobile phones, akin to its AdSense program, which places ads on conventional Web sites.

Ads in Mobile Apps

But Sterling said AdSense for Mobile was still “fairly undeveloped.” By contrast, he says, AdMob has richer advertising formats, especially ads inside mobile apps. These mini-programs have become enormously popular, and developers have concocted more than 100,000 of them for the iPhone. Software programmers are rushing to create apps for other smartphones, including those from Palm (PALM) and Research In Motion’s (RIMM) BlackBerry. Some 12,000 are available for Android. Ads are seen as the key revenue driver for many of these apps.

At least one analyst compares AdMob to DoubleClick, a company purchased by Google for $3.2 billion last year. DoubleClick serves as a go-between for advertisers and Web sites. “To us, AdMob looks in some ways to be a DoubleClick for the mobile Web,” Broadpoint.AmTech analyst Ben Schachter said in a note to clients. “It should help not only to provide more relationships with mobile ad publishers and buyers, but also to provide a tested technology platform for monetization of mobile inventory and the delivery, tracking, and reporting of mobile ad campaigns.”

Acquiring the team at AdMob, which employs about 140 people, was as important as the technology in accelerating Google’s mobile display ad efforts, Google executives said in an interview. “We got a chance to get an unbelievable engineering team,” says Vic Gundotra, a Google vice-president for engineering. Susan Wojcicki, Google’s vice-president for product management, added that AdMob founder Omar Hamoui is “really a visionary in this space.”

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said recently that the search giant planned to make about an acquisition a month, mostly small purchases, while making a large acquisition every year or two. AdMob is seen as one of the large acquisitions, though the money involved is small next to Google’s nearly $178 billion market capitalization. Besides DoubleClick, Google has paid more only for video sharing site YouTube, which it bought for $1.65 billion in 2006.

Blue-Chip Customers

AdMob’s growth has attracted attention, though the privately held company doesn’t reveal revenues. Collins Stewart (CLST.L) analyst Sandeep Aggarwal estimates it grosses $50 million to $75 million and, after payments to partners, has $20 million in net revenues. BusinessWeek recently featured AdMob as one of 50 companies that could be the next Google.Even more recently, a BusinessWeek story mentioned AdMob as a possible acquisition for Google.

Founded in January 2006, AdMob has some blue-chip customers such as Ford (F), Procter & Gamble (PG), and Coca-Cola (KO). It has raised $47.2 million in funding from Sequoia Capital, Accel Partners, DFJ Growth Fund, and Northgate Capital. AdMob claims on its Web site to have served more than 125 billion ad impressions.

Analyst Schachter said he was surprised Google decided to buy the technology rather than build it from scratch, given the nascent nature of mobile ads. He also said he would prefer Google pay cash from its $22 billion war chest to avoid share dilution. Google’s shares rose 2.07% Nov. 9, outpacing the Nasdaq’s 1.97% increase.

Google’s acquisition could trigger more consolidation among mobile ad firms, which include JumpTap, Quattro Wireless, and Millennial, as well as Time Warner unit AOL’s Advertising.com mobile network. “This really validates the enormous potential for mobile advertising,” says Paran Johar, JumpTap’s chief marketing officer. He says JumpTap aims to differentiate itself on its access to anonymous user data from carriers such as AT&T (T) and Sprint (S), which will allow for more precise ad targeting.

U.S. Regulatory Review

For its part, Google clearly is seeking to blunt anticipated objections to the company’s ever-growing power in online advertising, dedicating another Web page to the issue of competition. Google said AdMob is “just one of more than a dozen mobile ad networks in the U.S. that have proliferated in recent years.” Google said it expects a regulatory review in the U.S., but not in Europe, because the mobile ad market is so small there.

Google also noted how small the entire mobile ad market is to date. It notes that eMarketer estimates mobile ads brought in $416 million in 2009, compared with almost $24 billion for online advertising overall, $51 billion for television ads, and $38 billion for newspaper ads. Still, Google’s entry not only will be seen as the biggest force in mobile advertising, but it will signal that ads on cell phones could be the next big opportunity in online advertising.

By Robert D. Hof

Hof is BusinessWeek‘s Silicon Valley bureau chief.

http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/nov2009/tc2009119_588360.htm

2010 to Come in Plain and Fancy Versions

In less than two months, a new year will arrive, along with a new decade. Each year in the current decade has been spoken the long way, as in “two thousand nine,” rather than the short way, as in “twenty oh nine” (or even “twenty ought nine”).

In 2010, however, another option will present itself, echoing how people referred to years starting in the second decade of the 20th century: “twenty ten,” just like “nineteen ten,” rather than “two thousand ten.”

Most people will have a couple of months to consider how they will refer to next year — but not the automakers, because a model year runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30.

So for Ford, General Motors, Honda, Toyota and the like, it is already 2010.

In print, online, in direct mail and in e-mail messages, 2010 is, well, 2010. But in television and radio commercials, announcers must say the year aloud. What are they doing so far?

A count of two dozen spots shows that most are referring to the new model year as “two thousand ten.” Fewer are opting for “twenty ten.”

A fair number sidestep the question by using phrases like “the new” or “the all-new.” Some are omitting the year on the sound track and superimposing it onscreen, unspoken.

In interviews, executives from automakers and agencies offered reasons for their choices.

The decision was not a coin toss, said Team One Advertising in El Segundo, Calif., a unit of the Publicis Groupe that is the agency for the Lexus division of the Toyota Motor Company. Announcers in commercials for the 2010 Lexus models call them two-thousand-ten cars.

“It wasn’t really a ‘potato, potahto’ moment for us,” Jon Pearce, group creative director at Team One, wrote in an e-mail message. “I think we naturally took to two thousand ten because it felt better on the ear than twenty ten.”

“Twenty ten feels a little slick, a little self-consciously futuristic,” Mr. Pearce said, and “there’s nothing worse than trying to position — or reposition, for that matter — yourself with forced lingo.”

Another reason for two thousand ten is that it is “the logical follow-up to two thousand nine,” he added. “It has a natural-sounding importance to it, which is appropriate when you’re selling $60,000 luxury vehicles.”

The company’s Toyota line is also going with two thousand ten, said Erin Poole, a spokeswoman for Toyota’s agency, the Los Angeles office of Saatchi & Saatchi, also part of Publicis.

Saying twenty ten is “too colloquial,” Ms. Poole said, and two thousand ten is “more formal.”

Cadillac is joining Lexus and Toyota on the two-thousand-ten side of the fence, in commercials for the 2010 Cadillac SRX.

The move was “was a client decision,” Tracy Brady, a spokeswoman for Modernista, Cadillac’s creative agency in Boston, wrote in an e-mail message. Referring to the co-founder and executive creative director at Modernista, Lance Jensen, she added: “Or as Lance put it, ‘Because the client said so.’ ”

(If that seems cheeky, it may be because Cadillac recently placed its creative account in review and Modernista decided not to take part.)

Among other commercials siding with Cadillac, Lexus and Toyota are spots for the Ford Fusion; the Lincoln MKS, sold by Ford’s Lincoln Mercury division; the Mitsubishi Lancer, sold by Mitsubishi Motors North America; and American Honda Motor cars sold by dealers in the New York Long Island Honda dealers association.

The most notable brand taking the opposite tack is another General Motors nameplate, Buick. Commercials for the Buick LaCrosse refer to twenty ten rather than two thousand ten.

The reason, said Steve Rosenblum, director for advertising and promotion for the Buick and GMC lines at G.M., is that twenty ten sounds “different, modern and progressive, which is very appropriate for the new Buick.”

“It’s also a quicker, more intuitive read” for an announcer, he wrote in an e-mail message, “when time is at a premium.” The Buick agency is Leo Burnett, part of the Publicis Groupe.

One brand staying neutral in the debate is Audi, part of Volkswagen of America. “Take the A5 for a test drive today,” announcers in commercials say, as the words “2010 Audi A5” are superimposed onscreen.

“Internally, we’re playing fast and loose and tossing around twenty ten,” Paul Venables, creative director at the Audi agency, Venables Bell & Partners in San Francisco, wrote in an e-mail message. “We live on the edge like that.”

“But when we create marketing for the civilian world, we’re more likely to button our top button, tie our tie and say two thousand ten,” he added, tongue still firmly in cheek.

“Or better yet,” Mr. Venables concluded, “maybe we should just ‘super’ the thing,” meaning superimpose the date onscreen without saying it.

For some brands, the discussion is moot. The models sold by Porsche Cars North America are not identified with a model year, said Michael Baer, senior vice president and group account director at its agency, Cramer-Krasselt in Chicago.

Similarly, said Donna Boland, a spokeswoman at Mercedes-Benz USA, “we rarely say the year in commercials” and instead superimpose it onscreen.

“We like to use the creative for as long as we can,” she wrote in an e-mail message, “and it’s far more efficient to strip out the year in the visual than to redo the voice-over.”

What lies ahead as the next decade proceeds? Well, in commercials now on TV for the coming movie “2012,” a voice is heard saying, “Two thousand twelve.”

By Stuart Elliot

Published: November 2, 2009

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/03/business/media/03adco.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper