Healthcare Marketing: Newspaper Decline Tapering Off

The decline in newspapers’ paid circulation is slowing down and online views of newspaper sites are continuing to increase.

Newspapers have faced a strong decline in paid circulation over the past several years.  It has been a great cause of concern for the industry and has lead to the death of several notable dailies.  And it has been a concern of advertisers as well.  Previously a mainstay of any advertising plan, its reach and effectiveness has taken a serious hit.

But it appears the decline in readership is finally slowing. In an article in Ad Age , Nat Ives reports that the Audit Bureau of Circulations indicated an 8.7% decrease in circulation during the latest reporting period compared to 10.6% in the previous period. Newspapers’ Sunday paid circulation fell 6.5% compare to 7.5% in the previous period. However, with the decline there are still nearly 100 million adults who read a newspaper every day, according to Scarborough Research.

The good news is that newspapers are attracting more and more viewers to their websites. Nielsen Online data indicated that newspaper websites have over 74.4 million unique visitors per month, more that a third of all internet users.

Healthcare marketers have traditionally relied on newspaper advertising as a key component of their advertising plan.  With the continuing decline in circulation, the medium has become less and less effective.  Advertising rates should reflect the decrease in readers.  The negative effect has been less dramatic in smaller markets where consumers have fewer sources for local news.  And newspaper websites are becoming more and more attractive as an advertising medium as more and more consumers go online for their news.

The advertising landscape continues to change.  It presents unique challenges and new opportunities for marketers.  Trends in reach and frequency and impact must continue to be monitored and allocation of dollars must shift appropriately to assure maximum effectiveness for our advertising expenditures.


Healthcare Marketing: Are We Training Unhappy Customers/Patients to Whine on the Web?

Unhappy customers are often finding that using social media sites to complain gets faster and better results than ordinary customer service venues.

A disgruntled JetBlue customer was slapped with a $50 fee for checking a box containing a fold-up bicycle, clothes and some cheese. The box met the height and weight requirements for free baggage but JetBlue’s policy for checking a bicycle called for a $50 fee.  The angry customer called the airline’s customer service center but was repeatedly told the fee was company policy and there were no exceptions.  But then the customer went online to social media sites and complained. It was soon on Twitter and within three days JetBlue called the cyclist to tell him his $50 charged had been reversed.

In the past, a customer complaint was handled usually with a phone call or maybe by email and the matter in question was handled either satisfactorily or unsatisfactorily.  It was done quietly and just between the customer and the company.  But now, consumers have at their disposal, social media.  Now a dissatisfied customer can let the world know about his complaints.  And companies now monitor those online comments and in their desire to stop the flow of bad blood and demonstrate their responsiveness will quickly satisfy an angry customer.  Companies are much more likely to give a favorable response to a customer who has broadcast his complaint over the internet than one who follows the traditional lines of customer service.

Michael Bush addressed this issue in an article in Ad Age.  He cited the above incident as an example of how companies are training customers to take their complaints to the web.  He concludes that those who publicly flog a company on the internet by using social media get faster and better resolution to their issues.

He quotes Pete Blackshaw, EVP of Nielsen Online Digital Strategic Services. “The consumer sees two completely different faces, and ultimately that kills credibility, erodes equity and more.” As a defensive measure brands are much more likely to favorably satisfy a customer complaint that comes through the web than through traditional means and that is creating a huge credibility problem with the brand.

Perhaps companies are training consumers to whine about them on the web.  Why shouldn’t they?  They get a quick and favorable response.  But that is a dangerous precedent. Complaints that come through traditional customer service channels should receive the same treatment as those that appear in social media.  Otherwise we are inviting unhappy consumers to take their dissatisfaction to the web. It’s much better to address and resolve consumer (and patient!) issues in private through traditional customer service channels than to be unresponsive and read about it, on the internet.  Along with the rest of the world.


Healthcare Marketing: Online Ads Have Better Recall and Likeability

Recent research indicates online advertising has better recall and likeability than traditional television ads.

In a study of over 14,000 surveys, the results indicate that online commercials have better general recall, brand recall, message recall and likeability than traditional television advertising. The survey results were reported in the MediaDaily News in an article written by Wayne Friedman.

Online video ads had a 65% general recall compared to 46% general recall for television.  Brand recall online was 50% to TV’s 28%; message online recall comes in at 39% to TV’s 21%; and online likeability was 26% to TV’s 14%. The study was conducted by Dave Kaplan senior vice president pf product leadership at Nielsen IAG and Beth Uyenco, director of global research at Microsoft.

There were three primary reasons online video advertising was more effective:

  • Internet video viewers are more engaged and attentive.  This is partly due to it newness as a media.
  • The inability to skip ads.  About one-third of U.S. viewers of traditional television has the ability to skip ads.  That ability does not currently exist with online videos.
  • Reduced advertising clutter.  Online videos have about 4 minutes of advertising per hour compared to 15 minutes for traditional TV.   However the frequency of online ads is increasing.  Advertising’s sweet spot is six to seven minutes per hour.

The study indicates online video advertising is superior to traditional TV advertising but based on the reasons for the online’s superiority, it may be short-lived. The newness of the medium will wear off and advertising clutter online will certainly increase as the demand for goes up.

But for now, there appears to be distinct advantages for online video advertising. This is important information for healthcare marketers.  Opportunities to purchase online video ads should be seriously considered.  Although currently there may be few opportunities in local markets, we should remain on the watch for possibilities.


Hospital Marketing: Advertise on Television or Not?

Even with online video, mobile video and online viewing, traditional television watching is still supreme.  

You hear everyday that television viewing is in decline and is becoming less effective as an advertising medium.  Apparently that’s not true. Nielsen has reported in its latest “Third Screen Report” that in the third quarter of 2009, 99% of video viewing was done the old fashion way – watching TV. 

It is certainly true that television time is spread over many more networks and types of programming, but it’s still the center of attention in most households.  In fact, the report stated the average consumer watched 31 hours of TV per week.  Almost as much time as a person spends working each week.  An average of 4 ½ hours per day.  No one can say television is dying.

Even DVR viewing has not impacted television watching as much as anticipated.  The same report indicated that only 31 minutes of that time was in playback mode on a DVR.  Although for adults 25-34 the average time goes up to almost an hour a week watching time delayed television. Even though Nielsen is moving ahead to alter its ratings to include DVD viewing, this report indicates less than 2% of television viewing is via DVR.

Now certainly there are changes occurring.  Online television viewing is up 35% over the previous year and DVR viewing is up 21%.  So consumer habits are changing but nothing has supplanted traditional television viewing.

And if you add time spent online, consumers are spending huge amounts of time in front of a screen.  Adults 25-54 spend nearly 7 hours per week on the web.  Consumers are certainly spending massive amounts of time with the big three: television, web and mobile.  Americans today have an insatiable appetite for not only content, but also choice,” says Nic Covey, director of cross-platform insights at Nielsen. “Across all age groups, we see consumers adding the Internet and mobile devices to their media diet — consuming media anytime and anywhere possible.”

The implication for hospital marketers is that television advertising is still a very strong option.  Even with the increased popularity of web and mobile, television is still far above the rest.  It still delivers.  It should continue to be a serious consideration for any media campaign.  Americans still love their television.  With each American home having an average of 2.86 televisions, I should say, Americans love their televisions.


Hospital Advertising: TV Viewership Up – Mobile Marketing Down

Television viewership is up but mobile messaging is viewed less favorably.

With all the talk of the death of traditional advertising and the advent of new media, which some argue to be far superior, some recent trends dispel prevailing attitudes. Nielsen Research recently reported that TV viewership is at an all-time high.   And the average time spent watching television per day has increased to four hours and 49 minutes. Even though primetime viewing is relatively flat, it is at the highest levels since 1991.

On the other hand, Mark Dolliver reports in Adweek  that a BIGresearch study indicates that since June 2008, the percentages of people who don’t like mobile marketing has increased.  More specifically 67 percent don’t like text ads compared to 64 percent last year.

While new media offer unique opportunities, the rush to abandon traditional media for new media may be a bit premature.  Certainly hospital marketers should utilize new media to reach new consumers and to target specific audiences.  But to discount traditional media is a mistake.  Traditional media used correctly is still very effective.

Of course, the optimal approach is to combine traditional and new media for a well balanced and coordinated advertising strategy.  To ignore social media is like putting your head in the sand and refusing to recognize the unique opportunities it provides.  But to get carried away with the newness or novelty of something and forsake what has been consistently reliable is an equally severe mistake.

A strategic, coordinated advertising plan that takes advantage of each viable medium, both traditional and social options, is the best way to maximize effectiveness.               


Hospital Advertising: DVRs Not the Enemy Once Thought

Studies show that even when viewers watch their favorite shows on their DVR, many of them are watching the commercials.remote control

Many thought the coming of the DVR was going to be the end of television advertising or at least seriously affect its effectiveness. It makes sense, viewers will record their favorite shows to watch at a later time and when watching, skip through the commercials.  But that has not necessarily proven to be the case. 

Bill Carter,  in an article published in the New York Times on November the 1st, cited Nielsen in stating that 46 percent of viewers 18-49 years old are watching commercials during playback.  And considering that because of DVRs, the viewing audience of many shows, has actually increased, advertising effectiveness and has not taken the hit many predicted.  Not only can viewers watch their favorite shows when they first appear, they can now record the show and watch it whenever they wish.   This has caused significant increases for many programs. 

Two years ago, Nielsen started using the “commercial plus three” ratings which measured viewership for commercials in shows that are watched live or played back on VCRs within the next three days.  This resulted in shows like House increasing its ratings almost 18% and the Office viewership increasing 26%. 

DVR penetration has increased to 33% of American households and what was thought to be a death knell for television advertising has not proven to be the case at all.  Even though it’s counter intuitive, almost half of the people using their DVRs still watch the commercials. Carter quotes Brad Adgate, senior vice president for research at Horizon Media, in referring to television watching, “It’s still a passive activity”.  Apparently viewers watch television when using DVRs just like they do when they watch it live. They watch leisurely and passively, taking in the commercials rather than making the effort to fast forward through them. 

This is valuable information for hospital marketers who have relied upon television advertising to build and promote their brand. It means television advertising is still effective and is not eroding as quickly as many feared.

Television advertising still works. And the good news is that it works long after the programming has aired.


Hospital Marketing: Facebook Wins The Engagement Battle.

facebook logo 2Facebook users spend more time on the site than other social media site.

Since the inception of internet advertising, the key measurement for advertising effectiveness has been the number of unique visitors to a site. The more unique visitors, obviously the more people reached.

But recently advertisers have been considering time spent on the site. Engagement is the concept that is gaining attraction. If a person is on a site for longer periods of time, there is more opportunity for the consumer to see the ads on that site.

Radio has been using this concept for years. They have emphasized, “time spent listening” as a way of selling the level of loyalty the station has among its listeners. The more the consumer is engaged with the site, the more influence the site has on the consumer.

And one of the chief winners of site engagement is Facebook. Facebook is already the fourth largest site in terms of unique visitors with almost 97 million unique monthly visitors trailing only Google, Yahoo, and MSN. But additionally,according to Nielsen Media Research, the average Facebook user spent 5 hours and 46 minutes on the site in August. Yahoo is just over three hours and AOL about two and a half hours. (See chart below).  As an indicative of Facebook’s growth in popularity, the 5 hours per month spent on the site, is up from an hour and 30 minutes a year ago. The more time a consumer spends on the site the longer they have to be exposed to the advertising that appears on the site.

This is a distinct advantage over sites like Google whose goal is to provide the information requested as quickly as possible.

So as you consider web advertising, one factor to consider is the time spent on the website. The more time spent on the site increases the opportunity for the consumer to actually see the ad, and it provides a favorable environment for the ad because the visitor is more committed to the site. Engagement adds value as an advertising option for advertisers.

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