Digital marketing: Privacy concerns in an age of personalized online experiences

With so many people seeking information online about their medical issues and potential treatments, pharmaceutical companies continue adapting their marketing strategies to a digital world.  Successful digital marketing depends in part on understanding consumer behavior online and giving people information in the form of ads, blog articles, social media posts and other media that’s uniquely targeted to them.  One way pharmaceutical companies do this is by mining data from consumers’ online activities.

According to a recent article from the International Business Times, pharmaceutical companies are hardly the only type of business mining data from the Internet to better understand consumer behavior and reach out to them in more targeted and effective ways.  Companies in a range of industries seek to answer many questions about consumers, including what digital channels they typically use, what types of media they best respond to (e.g. video, photos), what topics interest them, and what products they’re most likely to want or need next.

However, the article also mentions that consumers have become increasingly worried about the privacy of their online information and what uses it’s being put to.  For pharmaceutical companies, the kind of data gathered is especially sensitive, as it deals with people’s private health and lifestyle issues.  Some consumers are savvy enough to find ways on their own of evading different kinds of data mining, but many consumers aren’t.

In addition to providing consumers with the most secure experience possible when purchasing pharmaceutical products or signing up for health services online, pharmaceutical companies need to consider how they use, store and analyze the data they mine from the web.  The following are some issues to consider:

  • How specific and revealing are these data? How easily could this information uncover the identities of individual consumers?
  • Even if these data are used only for marketing purposes right now, in what could they be potentially misused?

Pharmaceutical companies need to consider the ethics of data mining and use and look out for the interests of the consumers they aim to market to.  It’s not enough to ignore these issues simply because they aren’t violating HIPAA or other laws or regulations.

Register today for our upcoming 6th Digital Pharma Europe and get your digital marketing program in check. For further information on the conference, be sure to review the brochure.

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