AstraZeneca Sees Brand Benefits from More Net Ads

NEW YORK – The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) on Tuesday released top-line results from its latest cross-media optimization study, for pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, showing improved results in branding from an increase in online spending.

Pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca released some broad results from research into its ad campaign for Nexium, its heartburn drug. However, the company decided to keep most data private and released only ranges for the results during the IAB Advertising Forum conference in New York.

The research, conducted by Marketing Evolution, found that increasing spending on both magazines and online advertising incrementally increased the number of consumers who showed purchase intent — in Nexium’s case, going to their doctors to ask for the drug — from 1 to 5 percent.

The original marketing mix for Nexium had TV taking up 73 percent of spending, magazines 17 percent, and online 4 percent. The study increased the spending on Internet and magazines to the 10 to 15 percent range, with TV coming in around 70 percent. (Radio made up 6 percent of the original spending.)

Marketing Evolution’s principal, Rex Briggs, said that unlike in previous cross-media studies, he recommended AstraZeneca increase their marketing budget, instead of just shifting money from TV, since all media were performing fairly well.

According to the research, the new mix resulted in a 10 to 20 percent increase in five brand attributes, such as knowing one dose is enough for 24 hours of relief, awareness that Nexium works, and a favorable impression of the drug against competitors.

Briggs said the research showed that TV is less effective for high-consideration products, such as pharmaceuticals and financial services.

“In many low-involvement categories, TV can communicate quite effectively,” he said. “When you’re talking about high-involvement categories, it is much more complicated.”

Briggs said TV’s strength was to communicate a single, simple brand idea, while online and magazines can work together to communicate a number of brand attributes. Magazine advertising greatly increased brand awareness, particularly in driving free trials through inserts, but online had an advantage in its lower price. As a result, Briggs recommended AstraZeneca use the magazine and Internet ads together to reinforce each other.

AstraZeneca, which spent a reported $183 million advertising Nexium in 2002, has been a forerunner among pharmaceutical companies in using online advertising, ranking as a key client of aQuantive’s Avenue A. The company was one of the first to try New York Times Digital’s surround sessions, where a visitor receives ads from a single advertiser during an entire stay at the site. Last week, it introduced its new cholesterol-fighting drug, Crestor, through an online campaign of homepage takeovers on sites like NYTimes.com, Weather.com and USAToday.com.

IAB head Greg Stuart said AstraZeneca made the decision not go into the same level of detail as previous participants in the IAB’s cross-media studies, such as McDonald’s and Unilever.

“We’re disappointed,” he said. “They’re certainly very reluctant to release any information.”

AstraZeneca did not participate in the panel discussing the study.

Despite the paucity of detail, Briggs said the results of the AstraZeneca study were “phenomenal.”

“They’re in a very competitive industry,” he said of the lack of detail. “Some marketers have been much more generous.”

Stuart said he hoped upcoming studies from ING and Universal Home Video would go into more detail, but marketers end up deciding for themselves what to share and what to keep under wraps.

“Each marketer has its own way of doing business,” he said.

The IAB announced that Ford had signed on to study the marketing mix of its major push for its new F-150 pickup truck. Last week, the automaker bought out the ad space on the front pages of the top three portals to kick off the truck’s official launch weekend. The study will examine the TV, magazine and online parts of the campaign.

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