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Think Health with Google: A New Script For Health

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On September 14, 2012, Intouch Solutions attended Google’s Think Health event in New York City. This was a day dedicated to healthcare and pharmaceutical marketing, hosted by one of the most critical and successful marketing entities on the web today: Google. What follows are highlights of the information and ideas shared.

First, the Fun Stuff

While attendees were getting settled in, Google featured Samsung’s new Android phone, the Galaxy S4, at the back of the room. The phones were primarily showing off the new mobile payment QuickTap technology that is projected to become commonplace in the coming year. Attendees were allowed to select two items from a wall of schwag in order to try out the “tap to pay” feature. (The Google socks were quite the popular item.)

After the mobile technology play and schwag handout, Google kicked off the event by featuring White House chef Sam Kass, who discussed the “Let’s Move!” initiative aimed at helping raise a healthier generation of kids by rethinking dietary and exercise education. (To learn more about this initiative, visit

Then, Google showcased some current major consumer brand campaigns that leverage technology in a meaningful way, such as a Coke campaign with networked vending machines and display ads that allow users to “gift” others a can of Coke with a personal message or video attached. Anyone interested in seeing some innovative, non-pharma-specific campaign examples should head over to for more. The rest of the day was full of healthcare-specific speakers, data and campaign examples. Below is a summary of five of the subjects covered at the event that healthcare marketers may find interesting.

Seeking Health Information is Common Behavior Online

For consumers and physicians, accurate and relevant healthcare information is one of the most important online activities. In fact, looking for health information, including browsing medical websites and reading articles, is the third most common online activity after email and search.1 People are looking to take a more active role in their personal health, and this drives the importance of finding relevant and accurate information. As pharmaceutical marketers, this makes it ever more important to understand what information your audience wants to see and to present it in a way that is useful and usable (a theme you will see persist in the other topics Google covered).

Content Strategy = Engaging Storytelling

Throughout the day, presenters talked about the importance of being relevant to your audience. They echoed something that we have said to our clients for a long time: It is no longer about pushing your brand message, but rather about building engaging content and high-value brand interactions. Storytelling is a critical component to humans understanding and retaining information, as well as a powerful tool for connecting people with brand messages.

In order for brands to do this successfully, it is imperative they have a long-term content strategy that seeks to synchronize user needs with business requirements. Your content strategy should have clearly defined brand objectives and seek to tie all content assets into a story that guides users to desired actions.

It is important to note here that content does not mean “text only” — content can be video, images, infographics, PDFs, PowerPoint presentations, social media messages, etc. Essentially, anything that provides users with a new brand touchpoint should be considered part of your long-term, continually evolving content strategy.

Search is the Doctor’s Digital Stethoscope

Physicians use search engines to seek information they need in their daily practice, and they do it throughout the day across numerous devices. They are seeking out information that can help them make decisions, with 94% of physicians taking action as a result of using search engines for clinical and treatment info.1

  • 67% share information with patients
  • 55% make or change a treatment decision
  • 40% go to pharma company websites

Pharma marketers should take note that search engines are a major research tool for physicians. In fact, 1 in 4 physicians will click on sponsored listings.1 Understanding how physicians search and creating a defined search strategy that capitalizes on these insights will help drive brand visibility, as well as setting brands up for positive HCP interactions by providing relevant content.

Mobile isn’t the “Next Big Thing” — It’s Here Now

For the past few years, mobile search usage has continued to increase very rapidly. Year over year, mobile search usage has increased by 81%. With this rapid growth continuing, pharma brands need to make it a priority to ensure their sites are optimized for mobile displays.

According to the Google and Manhattan Research study “The Doctor’s Digital Path to Treatment,” 62% of physicians are likely to abandon a website on their mobile device if it isn’t optimized for a smartphone.1

Iterate and Evolve

The last key subject discussed by Google and others at the event is the importance of being iterative and continually evolving both your strategy and the tactical execution of your campaign. Be prepared to continuously repeat, evolve and optimize your approach. Don’t be afraid to fail; be ready to adjust your approach and find something that resonates and creates engaging brand interactions with your users.

While none of the pharma-specific subjects discussed at Think Health were revolutionary, the event was loaded with good, foundational digital marketing considerations and fun, creative examples. All in all, it was a good experience. Thanks for inviting us, Google!

  1. Source: Google & Manhattan Research, 2012


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