BLOG: Lee Weinblatt

Best Practices: Increasing Pharmaceutical Website Engagement

PTG has conducted numerous website evaluations for the pharmaceutical industry. Below, I’ve shared what we’ve learned along the way.

Biggest Mistakes Companies Make

While it may seem intuitive to some, our experience has shown that not all clients are internally and externally aligned around the primary goal(s) for their product marketing website. Goal setting should be identified and communicated to all parties prior to web design in order to ensure your site is being evaluated according to key performance metrics.

While there are many goals for a new site, we have found that in order to maximize engagement and impact, a site should be designed around a hierarchy of specific objectives. For example, is the purpose of the site to:

  1. Supply information? If so, to whom? Doctors? Patients? Caregivers? All of the above?
  2. Differentiate your product from others in the same category?
  3. Inform site visitors about an ailment so individuals take action and get more advice from their physician?
  4. Inform site visitors that they potentially have the ailment and should request your product from their medical practitioner?
  5. Provide confidence to individuals who are prescribed your medication that it is both safe and effective?

Best Practices

We have identified that the most successful pharmaceutical websites clearly separate site visitor paths on their homepage according to user identification (i.e. I’m a Physician, I’m a Patient, I’m a Caregiver). By offering site visitors the ability to readily self identify, product marketers can focus on customizing complex material according to user needs, level of details and topic familiarity. For instance:

  • While physicians may want a site that provides detailed data on dosage, contraindications and potential side effects that are based upon age and health, consumers often want information written in layman’s terms to help them understand the ailment and the need for medication and/or treatment.
  • It is commonplace for physicians to spend far less time on a site as their visits are primarily searching for specific information so they are looking for efficiency. On the other hand, consumers, especially care-givers, typically spend far more time on a website collecting and investigating an ailment itself.
  • When it comes to the possibility of side effects, physicians want the information listed in the most explicit terms and percentages while consumers’ primary concern is to be assured that the treatment is worth the risks before knowing the details of any side effects.
  • Unsurprisingly, physicians are little persuaded by patient testimonials and explanatory videos; however, this form of content is an important element when it comes to consumer marketing since it increases believability, encourages approach and action.

We recommend homepages focus on one or two key messages alongside clear direction, visible menus and simple page navigation that accommodate disparate visitor needs and content related searches. For example:

  • A home page is the ideal location for establishing a unique claim, tagline and/or symbolic visual.
  • Visual elements that are featured on the homepage should be pre-evaluated for overall message communication and engagement level.
  • In order to establish an association with the brand and its claim, it is important that the product name be included in the key defining headline.
  • Website menus and site navigation options should be large and bold in order to provide a clear visitor path that is both easy and meaningful.
  • Key visuals and a consistent tagline should be repeated on each of the user group internal landing pages.
  • Be sure to pre-evaluate all secondary and tertiary pages to make sure the visitor group in question finds the content valuable and easy to understand.
  • Avoid any language that can be perceived as condescending to consumers and their caregivers while still using layman language. As far as physicians are concerned, as long as the facts are understandable and believable, they won’t require any more detail than required by the FDA. Physicians are especially impressed by comparison tables and charts.
  • In circumstances where there are numerous benefits to convey, be sure to list them using a numerical structure as it can be powerful and persuasive to both consumers and physicians. For example, “Here are the 5 reasons to switch to . . .”

In Closing

While it is understandable that timelines experience delays, and projects experience unexpected occurrences along the way, it’s critical to have a new website evaluated by your target audience prior to launch. The feedback collected often provides simple changes that can significantly improve site performance.

To learn more, feel free to reach me at

The Impact of Media Environment

Over the years, PTG has conducted numerous media environment tests for clients.  Since the topic has come up again, I thought I would share some of our learning.

Proceed with Caution

Historically, advertising campaigns have been evaluated according to a thumb up or down rate card that assesses performance myopically.  For example, high recall scores collected under forced exposure have long been considered the currency of copy testing. However, we would argue that recall measures only provide a portion of the predictive data required to truly evaluate an ad’s success.

We believe it’s vital that marketing decisions be evaluated more holistically.  For instance, it’s important to incorporate media placement, emotional response and real world involvement alongside more traditional key performance metrics. By addressing all external factors that can lead to the success of a television spot, you will undoubtedly identify opportunities for optimization that far exceed traditional pass/fail systems.

General Trends in Media Placement

Our experience has shown that the selection of media environment impacts zapping (aka: involvement), believability, engagement and follow up.  However, this impact presents itself in different ways depending on the type of environment, type of ad message and number of competitive ads in the program’s commercial pods.

For instance, among younger viewers, there is more ad tolerance (less zapping and less second screen attendance) when watching sports and comedy shows. However, our research has also shown that attention to the message and engagement is lower as it pertains to commercial specifics (i.e. readership of copy, noting brand name at end of the ad etc.). Among this audience we have also found message believability to fall below average.

On the other side of the coin, older viewers have much more involvement with news, documentaries and crime/drama shows, and are far more engaged with commercial specifics and the believability of their messages. This tendency is especially true for DTC commercials.

Best Practices

  1. PTG data shows an increase in ad zapping among younger viewers and less ad recall among older viewers when there are too many similar category commercials within the same 30 minute program.
  2. Commercials that reference the same content as the programming often lead to much greater engagement and follow through.
  3. Having a TV show’s character appear in your commercial, while the program is airing, is an incredible engagement tool.
  4. Interestingly, we have found that “breaking the rules” can also pay off. For instance, placing an ad or a commercial in a media environment where one wouldn’t necessarily expect to see it has shown to deliver breakthrough attention, engagement and serious consideration. The moral of the story is as long as the target audience is present, marketers may see better engagement even if a commercial doesn’t necessarily “belong”.

Use Cases and In-Market Examples

  1. An AARP commercial, showing elder folk fighting neighborhood crime did especially well in a Criminal Minds show.
  2. A Discover commercial that promoted the ability to freeze an account when lost also performed very well during NCIS and CSI programs that addressed lost wallets and identity theft.
  3. DTC commercials do much better in medical drama programs.
  4. Engagement skyrocketed when Joe Mantegna appeared as a spokesperson for an insurance company ad within the one hour airing of Criminal Minds (in which he was a principal character).
  5. Dennis Haysbert, the “President” of the TV show “24” proved to be an exceptional Allstate Insurance spokesperson, especially when his ads appeared during the airing of “24.”
  6. Nikon camera ads performed very well in Businessweek magazine and weight loss and ED product ads did well in Sports Illustrated (apparently not all couch-potato sports players are in the best of shape).
  7. SUV commercials do very well in children’s programming because Moms often watch the shows alongside their children.
  8. The moral of the story is as long as the target audience is present, one may see better engagement even if a commercial doesn’t necessarily “belong”.

To learn more, feel free to reach me at





A Better Predictor of Product Success

Many brand marketers and researchers rely upon on-shelf product noting as a key measure in predicting product and packaging success, but recent advancements in PTG’s consumer research technology have uncovered important new findings that contradict this approach.

In March 2014, PTG unveiled its truVu™ research solution that captures real life consumer experiences across a wide variety of locations including in-store, on-site and in-home. The truVu technology features discrete eyeglasses that use patent-pending auto product identification technology and built-in HD (high-definition) and HFR (high frame rate) audio and video recording capabilities that capture real life consumer experiences.

truVu Glasses

Over the past 18 months, we have analyzed over 4,000 global consumer shopping videos captured across 20 internal truVu studies that included a wide variety of product categories, and the findings dispel the idea that high product noting alone correlates with actual product purchase. PTG’s research on research shows that in a given shopping trip, an individual can note over 7,000 products, some multiple times, and yet the same individual only purchases an average of 17 products begging the question, “If high noting doesn’t strongly correlate to purchase behavior then what does?

Additional research from PTG identified that, while noting a product is essential, consumer product engagement and close-up approach is ultimately what is required for increased purchase activity.

To conduct this phase of the research, PTG utilized its patent-pending truResponse™ solution featuring an HD and HFR on-shelf micro camera that uniquely captures consumers’ Saccadic Engagement, a biometric indicator that measures cognitive processing, and facial activity while examining in-store displays and product packaging. The unobtrusive micro cameras were strategically placed on product shelves, POP displays and LCD monitors. Using proprietary facial recognition software, the cameras automatically recorded how many people viewed the test product, approached the test product, measured their Saccadic Engagement level, and ultimately how long the shopper spent with the product.

truResponse Micro Camera

What PTG concluded as a result of this research is measuring actual consumer engagement and product interaction, rather than simple product noting and recall, provided a much more comprehensive understanding of a product’s success and opportunities for increasing purchase.

These insights are very promising for our industry. For the first time we have identified not only a highly reliable predictor of sales success, but we also have the necessary tools to set a product up for increased success before it goes on-shelf. To learn more, please contact me at

Today’s Radio: Untapped Potential with an Affordable Budget.

When it comes to advertising, terrestrial radio gets little respect. Some in the media industry have even gone so far as to call radio the poor man’s TV. However, before TV takes a victory lap, it may want to read Anthony Crupi’s AdAge article Where Did Everybody Go? TV Premiere Week Ratings Sag As Young Viewers Vamoose. According to Crupi, TV audiences are falling in general, and younger audiences in particular are leaving traditional TV even faster than expected.

While radio has taken its own licks over the years as it navigated the influx of satellite and streaming radio options, the media channel has proven to be incredibly resilient. Part of this resilience can be attributed to radio’s ability to offer advertisers highly targeted and dedicated listeners – at a very efficient price. For example, our research has found that a 60 second radio commercial can easily outperform a 30 second TV spot on persuasion and main message communication metrics – at a fraction of the price.

Additional benefits of radio are its ability to deliver speed and unfettered creativity. For instance, unlike TV, radio advertising can be on air in a fraction of the time it takes for a television ad; plus, creative changes can be made to a live ad virtually on the fly. From a creative standpoint, with radio, advertisers are free to expand consumer’s minds and emotions with rich imagery and enticing sounds like a can of cold beer being opened on a summer evening. The ability to successfully tap into these human elements leads to far greater persuasion and consumer engagement.

It’s worth noting that radio also provides a great platform for floating campaign trial balloons. For example, should a car insurance company develop a new campaign based upon humor, shock, or a lizard? Conducting a test run on radio provides useful creative insight prior to significant TV campaign investment. Speaking of campaigns, radio spots are also a proven tool for extending campaign awareness until the next TV flight.

Radio is not only poised for continued success today but technology is also ensuring radio’s role in tomorrow’s communications mix. Advancements like CODI, a global audience communication platform, are turning audio content into passively delivered targeted digital messages and content, special offers, exclusive invitations, and a direct link for one-click purchases. To learn more, please contact me at

There’s gold in print but don’t let anyone else know it.

For years, advertisers have been lamenting the slow demise of print as a viable way to reach a target audience, but a deeper look into the media channel reveals that magazines still offer some excellent advertising opportunities. Why am I so bullish on print? Primarily because although today’s publications may be thinner, this new size gives your ad a bigger and brighter opportunity to shine among readers – and not just any reader – today’s magazine buyers and subscribers are true loyalists.

Think of print advertising as a beautiful, small pond chock-full of juicy fish and you are one of a handful of fishermen permitted to use the pond. However, to make good use of this unique opportunity, ensuring high copy readership and overall engagement is critical. It’s important to note that not all print copy testing methods use the same success criteria. Here are a few cautionary tales.

Watch Out #1: Relying on noting heat maps to make your decisions could get you in hot water.
In the ads below all three performed well on being noted; however, only one of the three scored above average engagement, key copy readership and real-world gain in competitive persuasion. Which one would you want to green light? PTG could tell you.

coke ads

Similarly, in the ads below, while both scored above average on noting, one execution contains a Visual Vampire and takes away attention from the product and message. Do you know which one?visual vampire ads

In the three pharmaceutical ads below, the ad that tested strongest using PTG’s truReader real world copy testing methodology is not the ad overwhelmingly selected in forced exposure. How comfortable would you be in choosing the right ad?

pharma ads

Watch Out #2: How well do you understand the impact of size, environment and frequency on your print ad placement?
Is this double page ad on the left more effective in the real world as compared to the product placement and single page ad combination on right?

double page adsprod placement single pg

Or are these two single ads in a Hispanic publication the better bet?singles hispanic

In order to comfortably answer these questions, you need to rely upon a robust research solution that captures the critical context needed to accurately assess the advertising by capturing involvement, engagement and persuasion in a natural environment. To learn more about PTG’s truReader technology, feel free to reach me at


Is your advertising research improving the bottom line?

In today’s economy, if your research expenditures are not adding to your bottom line, you’re wasting money. Eye movement noting, brand recall and expressed purchase intent are tools from the 1960’s and 1970’s that are meant to protect research departments from catastrophic failure, not provide tactical approaches for how packaging, ads and video content can better connect and influence target audiences. These legacy approaches were never designed for today’s new world of mobile platforms, millions of pre-roll ads, a digital economy, mega-supermarkets, television commercial avoidance, and small, yet valuable, magazine audiences.

Here are a few facts we have uncovered as part of our brand communications research:
• While magazine audiences have shrunk, highly engaging print ads are working better than ever in this medium.
• A pre-roll ad with high engagement during the first 5 seconds can persuade over 400% better than one that doesn’t capture attention.
• Display advertising is not as dependent upon viewability as it is on engagement. Most “in your face” banner ads are being completely ignored.
• What does it take to get a shopper to stop and consider your product when shopping an Amazon, Walmart or Target shopping site? Hint: It’s not what you think. Rather it is the engagement with your product’s picture in the posting. The higher the engagement level, the more copy readership and consideration to purchase.
• Do TV ad GRPs make a difference in persuasion? Not as much as you might think. Some of the most repeated commercials on air quickly lose engagement and their zapping (or ignoring) skyrockets. The right balance of reach and engagement is critical.

Given these realities it’s high time for research technology to address today’s world of binge viewing, mobile advertising, streaming videos, e-commerce and mega shopping stores. At PTG we have moved well beyond eye movement noting, brand recall scores and expressed purchase intent to give our clients an objective measure of engagement that leads to increased purchase behavior.

PTG incorporates a non-invasive biometric indicator called Saccadic Eye Movement into our copy testing and package testing methodologies. In simple terms, saccadic eye movement reflects the cognitive processes the brain uses to capture visual information.

More specifically, in order for the brain to gain a visual picture of a stimulus, the eye must vibrate and provide constant streams of information to the center of the retina called the fovea. The more visual information the brain wants, the more actively the eye vibrates. These mini-movements are known as macro-saccades. In order for the brain to remember a specific visual, the eye fixates and stops moving for a fraction of a second. These macro-saccades and fixations reflect an objective level of respondent behavioral engagement that is uniquely recorded by PTG’s patented Saccadic Eye Movement Recorder.

Saccadic e-Motion, as we fondly refer to the technology, measures second-by-second visual engagement as well as element-by-element eye tracking and allows us to pinpoint specific areas where our clients can make small changes to their advertising that make a big impact in sales performance.

To learn more, feel free to reach me at

Lee Weinblatt

Lee Weinblatt has served as the Founder and CEO of PTG since the company’s inception in 1983. With 45 years of experience in the field of marketing and advertising research and over 100 patents under his name, Lee is widely recognized as one of the most distinguished and innovative researchers in the industry.

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