Social news site, Digg, announced this week that they would allow readers to vote for ads that appear on the website, thereby driving the ads displays up, or burying them down. This provides real-time crowd-sourced data as to which ads appeal to Digg readers the most.
In a cosmic coincidence, I heard the Digg announcement the same day Dr. Thani Jambulingam suggested to me that pharmaceutical companies should rely less on traditional focus groups and use social media more to uncover unmet needs. “Dr. Thani” is the Chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Marketing at Saint Joseph’s University who also has considerable real-world experience in the life science industry. He specifically suggested that, like Digg, pharma companies should ask patients to create, critique and respond to potential ads. When I suggested they might already be doing that in focus group panels, he rightly pointed out that people respond more candidly when they are protected by remote, large group anonymity than they do when they are eyeball-to-eyeball with an interviewer.
A couple years ago Doritos used a home grown ad contest as part of their Superbowl campaign with great success. Digg is now looking for ongoing crowdsourced ranking. Tomorrow perhaps a bold healthcare marketer will use social media to launch a truly community connected campaign.