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Q: I’d be interested in running a bespoke, 700-word article on this subject with a pharma industry article if you’d like to work on some ideas.

The Editor
A Pharmaceutical Magazine

A: Pharma companies are big users of online video compared to many industry sectors.

This is because pharma have always been overall big users of video, preferring to film drug trials and tests or medical procedures, or use video at the many events they organise.

Pharma, especially pharma marketers, tend to think “the video way” more than most industry sectors.

Because they have more videos available than most, it’s natural that more of these videos appear on their websites, either for public viewing, or in private member areas. Most pharmaceutical company sites will have a number of videos available to view.

If you’re pharma marketer, here are a few valuable pointers that will make your online videos more effective.

Use Flash Video
Flash video is simply another streaming format, like Microsoft Windows wmv or Apple Quicktime’s mov, or Real Media’s rm formats.

But Flash Video (flv) offers clear advantages over the rest that the pharma exec would do well to notice.

They are:

> Visually compelling links that will increase the number of viewings

> Smarter graphic looks to match your overall corporate style

> Interactivity that will increase site goal activity

Let’s take a closer look and see what these mean, and how they work.

Visually compelling links that will increase the number of viewings
You won’t see a poor-looking pharma website – until you get to their videos, where the option to play a video is usually a bare underlined link.

While using a bare hyperlink to launch a video functions well enough, it hardly looks impressive or inviting. It usually requires first reading a short explanatory paragraph describing what the video is all about – the reason for bothering to click in the first place.
In other words, you have to read something first before you make the decision to click.

This can be improved dramatically by using a small flash or graphic as the button to launch the video, replacing the old underlined bare hyperlink.

This is not looks-for-looks sake. If the video is important (and it ought to be if it’s on the website) the flash graphic button can be designed to engage and compel the visitor to click.

For example, the Chairman’s Report could be a small icon of the Chairman smoothly transiting to Annual Report 2007. It’s not necessary for this to be excessively flashy. Just a simple eye-catcher with clear information presented in an appealing pleasing way.

The result will be that more site visitors will see at a glance what the video is about, before making the decision to click and watch, because a small tastefully animated flash graphic speaks a thousand words.

Try this out and watch viewing figures increase.

If you’re not sure it’ll work but are tempted by the idea, then trial it in one area of the site using A/B split testing. Your web analytics will demonstrate the difference, giving you the confidence to implement the change sitewide.

Smarter graphic looks to match your overall corporate style
Once a video is clicked to view, most pharma visitors will see the Microsoft Windows Media Player blue-looking thing pop up, or maybe a You Tube style video playing in an oblong box that’s set in the page with its inbuilt amateurish look.

Neither of these look good, and neither are in keeping with the overall look of the site, or the corporate style.

By contrast, Flash video allows you to use corporately-styled designed video consoles, that will popup to the exact size and appearance desired.

Using a designed video console means that when your online video appears it looks as good as the rest of the site, and does justice to the important message your video contains.

Flash designer consoles appear in standard html pop-up windows, so web analytics can track their usage and number of plays, like any other part of the site.

Interactivity that will increase site goal activity
Online video, like any other information on a site, is there for a reason – to sell the next click. It can be reasonably assumed that the purpose of any site information is there to encourage the visitor to take another click towards one of the site goals.

Site goals are many and might include:

> Request details of a drug portfolio

> Subscribe to a trials group information service

> Request a new press pack

> Request an invite to a seminar or medical event

> Request a personal visit from a para-medical professional

> Read specific news

> or browse further and learn more

What makes a flash video unique among online videos is that at the end of each video, you can insert a final screen inviting the visitor to click to a site goal.

For example, click here to download a prospectus or learn more here or insert your goal message here

Clicking will automatically direct the visitor to the appropriate goal page.

This technique works. It will send more of your visitors who view video online to your all-important site goal pages.

Flash video streaming has always been expensive compared to using a professional windows or quicktime streaming service. This is because Adobe (who own Flash) charge more for their video server streaming software, and the price is passed on to you, the marketing budget holder.

Now, alternatives to flash server streaming technology have been patented that, to all intents and purposes, work as transparently as flash, but cost the normal price that a marketer would expect to pay for a steaming service.

So there’s no longer any excuse for pharmaceutical marketers to not deliver more effective online videos. Test out these ideas, measure the results using your web analytics and see the improvements for yourself.

Here are examples of animated video in action

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