November 02, 2017

By Simon Applebaum

Pfizer, Eli Lilly and the other companies engaged in creating and selling pharmaceutical drugs or treatments are expected to spend $4.4 billion on television commercials this year.  That's a seven percent increase from 2016, according to Kantar Media research.  With $5 billion a likely TV ad sales outcome next year, Univision Communications Vice President of Business Development, Dennis O'Leary, wants to see more of this spending directed at the nearly 60 million Latinos living across the United States.

"Don't discount this population," O'Leary declared recently at a panel of TV executives assembled by the DTC (Direct-To Consumer) Forum in New York.  "You can use our (Spanish-language) networks to address this community in a culturally relevant and in-language manner."  The panel was part of a one-day conference DTC created to explore advertising options in TV and print for the pharma business.  Univision's assortment of Spanish-language services, which includes broadcast networks Univision and UniMas, and cable networks Galavision and Univision Deportes, could help pharma advertisers feel good about their media buy.

The key to reaching Latinos is to keep in mind that they often watch TV at home with other family members, tend to prefer watching programs live rather than time-shift to watch later, and bring a family member along to their doctors.  "You want these ads to incorporate these cultural insights that can make them more impactful," O'Leary noted.  "There are data measurement tools in place to help you develop the kind of creative advertising to address these insights.  Use these tools to line up your creative with the sensibilities of these consumers.  Also, aim your ads at both patients and their caregivers."

Univision is not the only Spanish-language programmer with an intention to attract more ad dollars from the pharma crowd.  Telemundo and sister channel Universo will be involved in an overall study of video-on-demand advertising NBCUniversal will undertake this coming January, utilizing digital set-top box information of cable and satellite consumers handled through the company's NBC Impact Group unit.  Bruce Kallner, the unit's Senior Vice President of Strategic Sales and Marketing, told conference-goers that the study will also take into account how Millennials use TV.

Mallory Halva, the lead official on pharma business for Comcast's Media 360/Advanced Advertising operation, believes such studies can go a long way to debunk the notion that Millennials of color (and Millennials overall) are not heavy TV watchers.  "Just don't make assumptions about this audience," she advised.  "I consider myself a Millennial and I'm a big smart-TV watcher.  You have the opportunity to use video-on-demand, smart-TV sets, TV-connected devices and [cable/satellite operators] as a full package for effective advertising among this audience."

Kallner agreed, adding that where pharma clients are concerned, digital ad spending on their part may have reached a plateau for now.  "The attitude is turning to making combination buys that increase TV usage and direct (their current digital spending level) to smartphone applications with area-wide news and information from local TV stations," he said.

When it comes to advertisers making digital vs. TV spending judgements, O'Leary falls on the side of TV with a slight caveat.  "Digital is a trend but not the trend," he insisted.  "Television is still the most important way to reach Hispanics.  It's a (large) part of a 360-degree approach people should use."

Appered first in MediaVillage


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