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Thursday, January 16, 2014

The New MedAdNews Will Focus on Old School "Narcissistic Advertising"

This is the week of "sort of's."

First, FDA published draft guidelines that "sort of" fulfilled the requirements of Section 1121 of the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (see "FDA Says It Has & Will Release Bits and Pieces of Long-Awaited Social Media Guidance Before July 2014 Deadline").

Then, it was announced that MedAdNews would return, "sort of" (see "MedAdNews Lives Another Day!").

As reported by MM&M—a competitor of the "old" MedAdNews—"rather than its usual monthly format, the magazine will publish two issues a year—the October Top-50 Pharma Company issue and April's Annual Healthcare Communications Agency issue. Both are big reference editions. The award show, “The Manny Awards,” now in its 25th year, is also returning, according to the announcement."

Speaking of format, the magazine will retain its large broadsheet print format. This was according to Daniel Becker, formerly brand director of MedAdNews, and now founder of Outcomes LLC, which is the new owner.

Why keep the larger-than-life and expensive print format? Why not go all digital?

It's more about marketing and less about journalism.

"The proliferation of digital and increased demand for owned media necessitates [a] change in the direction [for] marketing and media organizations," Becker told the blog Klick Wire.

So, the two yearly MedAdNews issues will not cover medical industry advertising "news" per se, but will focus on awards and kudos bestowed upon pharma companies and ad agencies that buy expensive full-page ads. To satisfy the egos of these advertisers, print is better than digital and BIG is just BETTER all around.

Producing a extra large glossy print trade publication is expensive. To keep the lights on, publications like MedAdNews, PharmaVoice, PM360, etc. must sell a lot of expensive advertising. Ad clients are willing to shell out beaucoup bucks to see themselves in large, glossy print pieces that they can distribute to their clients. In contrast, having your ads and sponsored content distributed digitally is not nearly as glamorous even though it may reach a much wider audience.

I call this "advertiser narcissism."

Advertiser narcissism may also be a major reason why pharma brand managers spend so much money on TV ads rather than on online advertising. When you produce a TV ad, you get to be a media "director," meet actors and celebrities, and tell your mom that you created that ad she saw last night. In contrast, when creating an online ad campaign, you meet only geeks, can't print a decent copy to show others and leave on coffee tables, and your mom isn't likely to see it!

"It’s great news that Becker was able to save the brand and keep biodiversity in the healthcare media," said Klick Health (here). I'm not sure what Klick Health means by "biodiversity." What I do know is that Klick Health took home the MedAdNews "Vision Award" last year and would probably like to win another award this year!

It's great that some previous employees of MedAdNews (e.g., Chris Truelove) will be able to make some income working for the publication on a freelance basis. But as Chris told me "I still may have to find a full-time job."

Yes, I would recommend that.  IMHO, transitioning from a  glossy "media" print publication to a glossy "marketing" print publication is not going to keep the lights on for long.

P.S. A thought just occurred to me: I guess I won't be invited to the Manny's this year!

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