Med Ad News asked industry experts what they thought DTC communications might look like in five years. This is what they told us.


Hensley Evans, principal, ZS Associates: Absent significant DTC regulatory changes, I expect that we’ll continue to see an increase in DTC spend, especially as consumers continue to bear a higher proportion of their health care costs (high-deductible plans) and thus engage more directly in health care choices in categories that may traditionally be more HCP-driven. Novel brand launches in crowded categories and specialty brands with higher price points will likely continue as big DTC players. We’ll start to see more precision in marketers’ abilities to target specific audiences and also deliver messages more relevant to where patients are in their journey. We’re just starting to see the tip of the iceberg in terms of leveraging social media.

Mike Della Porta, VP of technology and operations, Butler/Till Health Group: The trend of consumers taking control of their healthcare will continue and with it, a new suite of tools, resources, and information will need to be refined and created. Most of that work will be done by the content creators – publishers, doctors, bloggers, etc. – but brand will have a role in that as well. As a brand, empowering consumers to take control of their healthcare as it relates to the condition or situation that your treatment is indicated for will become increasingly important. There are already a handful of great tools out there today that are moving in that direction but with the adoption of wearables (Fitbits, clothing, shoes, etc.), as well as the increased interest in VR, the mix of technology and healthcare is on the verge of something big. Leveraging this technology to empower consumers to be in the driver’s seat will be essential.

Donna Wray, VP, digital and multichannel marketing, TGaS Advisors: Over the past 10 years of benchmarking, we have only seen a few cases where the first movers in new media have successfully impacted their marketing programs. With that caveat, the areas we are expecting to grow are video (still underused) and automated Q&A (chatbots). Other industries are going to chatbots because of the cost savings over human support. That’s a benefit for pharma, but we get an added benefit – all of the interactions are highly scripted, which reduces the risk of non-compliance.