The direct-to-consumer marketing trend in the pharma industry is going strong. But, TV advertising is an expensive proposition for many of the major companies who plan to introduce their latest products. A recently published article in Medical Marketing & Media indicates that pharma marketers are looking at some new options for their TV promotions.

According to the research presented by Marc Iskowitz in MMM, pharma marketers have always had to buy longer spots on TV. Unlike other industries, these marketers are tasked not only with generating consumer interest in their products, they must also cover the disclaimers. The FDA requires that viewers be made aware of potential side effects associated with prescription medications. As a result, 120-second ads were the go-to format for drug companies. But citing Kantar Media data, Iskowitz points out that more of these companies are using the 90-second format. In the past 2 years, drug companies increased their use of 90-second ads from 1% to 12%.  The spending amounted to $280 million last year.

Industry experts also note that because TV stations have made 15-second spots available, more flexibility has come into the system. It’s now easier for advertisers to purchase 90-second spots, leaving the remaining 15-second spots for other companies. Analysts also say that pharma companies are trying to save money by purchasing the shorter spots. Over 50% of companies in the sector still buy 60-second spots, a strategy that works when the message is about a product with fewer disclosures.

All in all, pharma companies say that TV is working for them. The key issue is determining which spot length to use in order to make the most impact. The longer the message, the more engagement pharma companies see.  On the other hand, ads that are too long risk boring or aggravating the viewer.

[Source: Iskowitz, Marc. Pharma finds happy medium in 90-sec. TV spot. Mmm-online.com. 28 Sept. 2012. Web. 16 Oct. 2012]