Category Archives: Tech

programmatic for hcp marketing

It’s time pharma realised the potential of programmatic media buying to reach HCP customers more intelligently


Programmatic is alive and well. It has cemented itself into the daily process of digital communication practices across the world and there are the numbers to prove it. In the UK alone, it is estimated that the programmatic display ad market will be worth £2.67 billion by the end of 2016, up 44% from 2015 (source: emarketer)

There are industries where programmatic has become standard practice, but there are some, such as pharma, that have been slower to adopt automated media buying to deliver their marketing campaigns. Whilst there is a lack of understanding on how the technology works, the concerns around regulatory risks have prevented pharma marketers to take a chance on programmatic technology. Adoption, however, rather than being technological or legal needs fundamentally to be focussed on customer delivery. If as a brand marketer all you want to do is deliver product messages, programmatic will not help you (for now, at least).

Why won’t it help you?

  • Because the vast majority of medical publishers and communities do not serve programmatic advertising;
  • Because, as a pharma marketer, you are probably still too focused on marketing the product features and benefits rather than delivering value to your customers and wider stakeholders, where programmatic media can be served. 

The world has moved on from features and benefits, and you need to too. However, we are now seeing a shift in consideration taking place. We know the landscape for targeting healthcare professionals is narrow and expensive. But the modern customer journey has become increasingly complex. We live in an age where customers are always connected, engaged and want to see relevant messages. In order to deliver a seamless experience to customers, pharma is recognising that it has to catch up and embrace the shift towards customer experience and with it the latest in responsive technology to deliver on their needs cost effectively.

Marketing starts with understanding the customer, and what programmatic advertising has to offer is a rich layer of audience insight on top of what we already have. The door is open to target precisely and verify advertising exposure to a defined list of healthcare professionals, and this is what is now attracting pharma clients’ attention. It means we can reach audiences outside the standard environments whilst adding greater intelligence to the media we buy to ensure we are connecting with the right people and at the right time.

Programmatic advertising is not just about satisfying top of the marketing funnel either. The ability to build and reach new audiences, on top of retargeting existing and engaging existing customers proves the value of programmatic in delivering both top and bottom of the conversion funnel.

At Nitro Digital we believe in and champion the many benefits programmatic advertising can deliver for pharma and we have highlighted the top advantages for why programmatic buying should be integrated into pharma digital marketing strategies:

Greater transparency
Greater visibility on media performance means campaigns can be better refined and optimised. In the past, when working directly with publishers we were completely reliant on the limited insight they could provide. We now can see what is delivered, and where, whilst learning what is working and what is not.

Greater data and insights
Data is at the heart of the programmatic process. So, not only do you minimise wastage from purchased inventory by targeting the right audiences, but you are also getting greater insight to better understand your online customers. And those learnings are happening in real time, which means campaigns can be optimised throughout its duration and the value of this can also increase a return on your investment.

Improved tracking capabilities
With programmatic technology it is easier to track and analyse data more efficiently from advertising views, to interaction through to website visits and actions. Audiences can be intricately segmented, which makes targeting messages in the right context, and at the right time far more effective.

Consistency across multiple channels
Programmatic can be thought of as a centralised buying platform. What this means is that we have the ability to combine the power of data to deliver effective communications where the audiences are active – across desktop, mobile, tablet, video and social channels.

Our conclusion

At Nitro Digital we have proven the value of running programmatic campaigns for our clients in pharma. We have successfully delivered greater exposure, at lower price points to highly targeted healthcare audiences. And the quality in targeting is demonstrated in the increase in responses we are seeing. Because, ultimately, we are delivering the right message at the right time and to the right people.


Meet Leka, the first toy designed specifically for children with autism

That sounds futuristic, and yet it is true! A French start-up has designed a rolling robot capable of engaging children with special needs, particularly children on the “autism spectrum”.


The future is coming

Shaped like a ball, it has an endearing ‘face’ that changes expressions, and uses sound, light and colours to interact with users through adaptable games that improve cognitive and motor skills. More than a tool for caregivers and educators, Leka is described by its developers as a “robotic companion”. For children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), connecting with others can be challenging.  The robot is able to guide children through a range of activities, helping them to improve their communication skills and ability to learn.

Leka may also help parents and caregivers, by providing data on how children interact with the device and enabling data sharing across a social network. It will provide understanding on the type of guidance that is more helpful to the child to complete a task. All of this information is displayed in graphs in the shared interface and parents or caregivers can comment on them, communicate with each other or share notes on a child’s use.

How can a robot change things?

ASD affects about 70 million people worldwide. In order to develop an efficient toy, Leka’s developers worked closely with children with ASD, parents and educators, to determine their needs and the role that the robot could play. The developers realised that children with ASD respond especially well to robots. Why? Because for these children, repetition and predictability are essential. Performing the same activity over and over can be hard for parents or educators.

Doing the same thing over and over is proper to robots. “The robotics help by repeating the same thing every single time and providing the child a sense of safety” – Ladislas de Toldi, Leka’s CEO and co-founder.

The rolling robot may also help child development by being controlled via Bluetooth and programmed through an app (available for both iOS and Android). Leka responds to a child’s participation in games, supplying positive images and sounds — for instance, showing a smiling face — to reward progress and encourage confidence. Currently programmed with three educational games, Leka will offer a total of seven activities toward 2017.

Adaptability is the key strength of this rolling robot. Caregivers can adjust the level of stimulation to fit each child’s needs – by changing the settings – , allowing the child’s progress to be tracked over time. Meanwhile, handling the spherical Leka provides children with a uniquely tactile interactive experience that they can’t get from a touch screen.

“Our mission is to help exceptional children live exceptional lives by reducing the learning inequalities that many children with different developmental disorders currently deal with” – Ladislas de Toldi.

Both these features justify the Leka’s cost of $699, say its developers. The robot is priced between an iPad Air and the iPad Pro… which are not exactly cheap, however the Indiegogo campaign (152% funded)  would enable mass production of the device and make it more affordable.  Besides, the start-up claims that the developers are looking for a solution for parents who can’t afford such a price but do need a Leka.


The initiative highlights how a robot could enhance our way of living. Do you think robotics can change lives too? Do you like the article? Leave a comment then!



Meet the Nitro Digital team

Welcome to the first in a series of interviews with the Nitro Digital team! Here we meet Piotr Sikora (Lead Front End Developer) who talks about cutting edge IT, increasing services for clients, his new book, and connections between breakdancing and developing!


Hello and thank you for being interviewed for the Nitro Digital blog!

Firstly, please tell us about your role is at Nitro, and where you fit in the team? How long have you worked here?
Hi all! I’m glad that I can give you an interview. I’m a lead front end developer at Nitro Digital. I started working here 3 years ago (in 2013) when the Polish department was about 7 people in a small office.

Could you say more about your role and the sorts of projects you’re involved in?
Currently my role is related mainly with Front End logic and web technologies/languages like HTML CSS and JavaScript including frameworks like Foundation, Angular, Phonegap etc. I’m a lead developer so I’m looking for new technologies we can use as a team, and I’m supporting all developers in the team. I’m working on the parts of projects which the client can see in a browser – so for example this can be interactive websites, and also mobile apps and email templates.

So looking for ways to improve interactivity and user experience has led you to write a book on Professional CSS3 – tell us about this! Is it very related to your work aims?
Yes exactly it is strictly related to my work aims. I started working on the book about nine months ago. The funniest thing about working on book is the main question of each good developer: “who has time to write a book?” So I had a time to do that because I wanted to share my knowledge with other developers.

This book is for people who want to get more knowledge about CSS. If you are a beginner you can read this book as I’ve tried to explain all aspects of CSS as simply as I could. If you are a pro developer you can find some tricks which I use, and rebuild them for your needs. Hopefully this book will be helpful for all people who wants to know more about CSS.

It’s great to produce something technical that will be useful to all levels. I see you’re a b-boy (break dancer) in you spare time – please say more?
I’ve been a b-boy for about 17 years. I started dancing when I was teenager with a friend from my neighborhood. It was easy for me to start dancing because I trained in Karate for about 10 years and my body was ready for it. Break dance showed me how to use the foundation of dance with my own creativity to create my own style. It made me more aware who I want to be and how can I make myself better in other areas.

I’m still dancing and try to teach kids and teenagers. It gives me big satisfaction that some of my students are now dancing like pro b-boys. I’m a judge too. After a years of passion, it’s great to see how this culture is still evolving and how young people are creative.

So it takes a lot of discipline?
Yes for sure but I’m not so radical right now. When you are a contender you need to keep your training routine. Now I’m making it only for my enjoyment. I’m happy that when I’m dancing in home my daughter is trying to do it too. And she is so happy when she is doing it!

Sounds like you’re someone who’s interested in developing – dance, sport, technology. Is there anything front end you’d like to see in the future, or think will develop? Anything we should look out for?
The technology is still moving forward. Back in the day I was a Flash Developer and I’ve been involved in projects which were based on augmented reality. I hope it will be possible to make it in JavaScript in near future. I’m still trying to be on time and one of things which I like right now is Internet Of Things (IOT). I bought Raspberry Pi about 3 months ago and made a simple application in Node.JS. So maybe it can be a project related with IOT. It’s rather hard to make an application for dancers but maybe some day I will find a way to do it.

Is IOT being used in the healthcare/media sector?
Yes – there are a lot of ideas and products related to IOT and healthcare. This is a rising branch in IT and hopefully it will go a little bit out from IT sector.  I recently heard about projects related with diabetes which helps to dose drugs. As I mentioned this is still a rising branch and I hope it will revolutionise IT. We as developers just need to find the niche and create some extra products in this sector.

The Poland team has expanded a lot over recent times! Are you able to provide different services or projects now?
When I started working in Nitro Digital Poland there were 7 developers on board. All of us were working on our current workflow which was evolving to work on maximising our efficiency. We are still scaling and we are working on culture of work inside our company which is very important to keep the team motivation.

I think that the main difference is that we learned a lot on previous projects. We’re able to provide new products with new technologies and with better efficiency than ever. We have more time for research. We have a great QA team! The team has developed and is the best QA team which I could dream of. They are supporting developers in their work and for sure are the very important support of the development process. I hope that this evolution (almost revolution) will be kept and we will still be working on better projects which will satisfy our clients.

What would you say is your biggest success so far?
The biggest success is that we build so big team is such a short time. In last 12 months we made the Front End team from 3 to 16 developers. It was possible because of great people with whom I work everyday (thanks Marcin, Katarzyna, and all FEDevelopers @ Nitro Digital, Pete and Jules for all of possibilities). I think that this is the one of biggest successes. And I believe that this is just a warm up before something bigger!


Nitro Digital at the 1MoreChild Charity in Uganda

About a month ago at this time we were packing our bags to leave for Uganda, to teach senior boys at the 1MoreChild charity some practical IT skills. Full of excitement and massive bags filled with laptops, we arrived in Entebbe late at night and headed straight to our hotel to get rested for our drive to Jinja the next day.

Abdulla, our driver, came early in the morning and after 6 hours of driving, or shall I say being stuck in traffic for the most of it, we finally reached our beautiful guesthouse in Jinja. Harry, the founder of 1MoreChild, came to see us in the evening so we could talk more about the boys and our plan for the next few days. After a couple of beers and lots of laughs, we said goodbye to Harry and headed back to our rooms to get ready for our first day with the boys.

And so it all began the next morning, when we finally reached the house where we were to spend most of our time in Jinja. Sixteen excited boys came to greet us outside, which at first seemed like a lot, but after all the introductions we got to know everybody and it wasn’t as scary anymore. Their eagerness to learn and extreme thankfulness made it very easy for us, as well as the fact that we had two supervisors – Benson & Jimmy, who were with us at all times making sure we are ok.

Gilberto began by covering computer basics, and then Duygu and myself got to the fun part – the Internet. The concept of Google got everybody confused, but by the end of the day it was clear to everybody that google is not some old wizard that can’t be trusted.

After a long day we decided there was not much else we could do and called it a day. Harry and his wife Hen, as well as their 4 lovely kids, took us out for dinner that evening to talk more about our plans and life in Jinja, as well as our newly gained respect for the teachers, even after doing it for only a day.

In the next few days we got to know the boys a lot more, as well as their abilities, so we were able cover a lot more topics. This ranged from creating email accounts and sending emails, to using word and practising Google searches more and more. This was particularly centred on using Google to expand their knowledge about computers when we leave.

It was such a humbling and eye opening experience, and we hope the boys will carry on learning with amazing support from Harry and Hen. For us, this is definitely not the end of the journey. Our Managing Director, Jules, is committed to keep on supporting 1MoreChild. We will be preparing remote teaching plans in the coming weeks, and hope the boys will follow them until we see them again the next time we go.
Please support this great charity too by donating here.

Pharma Patient Innovation

Pharma Patient Innovation

Somewhat paradoxically, patients have long been an overlooked stakeholder group for the pharma industry. The irony of this is undeniable, after all who are drugs developed for, if not the patients?

Patient-centricity and associated innovation were born out of the realisation that a stronger focus on patients would benefit both parties (patients and pharma). Patient-focused innovation is a key component in creating patient-centric concepts and finding new ways to engage them.

Three trending areas of patient innovation

The areas for the application of patient-centric thinking are broad. To get the most out of digital innovations, however, it is useful to keep the focus on areas that have immediate benefits for both patients and pharma. MobiHealthNews points to three areas of digital patient innovation in their insightful ebook:

  • Medication adherence
  • Pharma-digital therapies
  • Clinical trials

Medication adherence is a natural area to target. A patient not taking his or her medication, first and foremost, can potentially put themselves at risk. Secondly, this can mean a revenue loss for the drug manufacturer. To add some perspective, in a 2012 Capgemini / Healthprize Technologies study it was estimated that the annual global revenue loss due to non-adherence was an incredible 564 billion US dollars.

Examples of successful digital patient innovation in medication adherence include Johnson & Johnson’s Care4Today app – offering four solutions for different indications – or Boehringer Ingelheim’s wireless pill bottle – a bottle that is connected to the cloud and measures liquids or number of pills in real time, sending the patient a reminder when they need to take their medication or replace it.

Pharma-digital therapies refer to any digitally-enabled tool that is used complementary to pharmaceutical therapy. Early examples of this are BlueStar by WellDoc, an FDA approved “mobile prescription therapy” that helps diabetes patients manage their condition and get personalised tips based on the data they input via their smartphone, tablet or computer, and a sensor-enabled pill by Proteus Digital Health designed to capture information about a patient’s physiological responses to taking a medication as well as regular self metrics.

Clinical trials have a lot of potential for digital patient innovations to simplify things for trial participants. Finding suitable trials, getting information about trials and ensuring an optimal participant experience – these are just some of the fields where digital patient-centric tools could add value.

Inspiration from outside of pharma

It’s not just pharma that wants to add value for patients. Non-healthcare companies are eager to get into the field of digital patient innovation. Take IBM’s Watson computer system for instance. At the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Watson is being used to uncover insights from an enormous amount of data from different sources in order to fine-tune the treatment of individual cancer patients.

Another recent example is the smart contact lens being developed by Google together with Alcon, the eye care division of Novartis. The lens is tipped to be able to measure the blood sugar levels of diabetics through tear fluid and display the data wirelessly on a mobile device.

Tips for digital patient innovation strategies

Still not sure how to engage patients in a digital environment? We have compiled some tips to help pharma marketers navigate the field of digital patient innovation:

  • Focus on areas with high relevance, like the examples mentioned above
  • Think beyond apps – there is much more to digital patient-centric marketing than mobile apps
  • Look outside of your industry for inspiration
  • Think of big data as a trend – making sense of large quantities of data for the benefit of patients is sure to be a key area
  • Consider partnerships with organisations that enjoy a high level of trust among patients

Much to gain, little to lose

The benefits of a patient-centric approach can be extensive, while the risks are limited. More than anything, patient centricity has the potential to contribute towards creating a stronger sense of shared stakeholdership between drug manufacturers on the one hand and patients using the drugs on the other, which could ultimately lead to a greater sense of trust.


Watch out for Veeva Q4 results on 3rd March as a proxy for Pharma’s switch to digital!


On  3rd of March 2015 Veeva Systems (Veev) releases their Q4 2015 earnings report and I am keenly waiting to see what the company reveals about it’s fortunes and prospects. This is not because I’m a re-training to rejoin the ranks of the iBankers or indeed because I’ve got a fetish for B2B Saas providers results (although before anyone asks and by way of disclaimer I’m long despite the hearty valuation ($4 billion) that the company is currently trading at and our company are Veeva development partners). Need some context – $4bn, it’s a big number. Royal mail is around $6bn) and Veeva was only founded in 2007.

Why then? Well to answer that a bit of context. Veeva achieves it’s high valuation because it is regarded as the primary disruptive technology in a largely reactionary (for justifiable safety and regulatory reasons) industry, the pharmaceutical industry. It’s also in a global industry with a consequently large market and it’s a company that has historically demonstrated fast growth on the back of it’s SaaS + marketing automation approach. Clients value the regulatory needs Veeva fulfils at a time of great change in the industry that is struggling to get to grips with marketing in a world where not all doctors want to see a sales representative, and, for those that do want to see a representative they want a more experiential and discussion forming engagement than that provided by a sample set and paper sales aid.

Enter the world of the iPad armed representative. Veeva while not the first has proved to be the master of applying internet economy SaaS principles to the still in demand traditional human based sales process by hooking up an iPad armed sales representative to the companies based CRM system. Thus providing a compliant and updatable environment along the way, increased content flexibility and breadth to the representative and datafied effectiveness measurement back to their sales managers.

Sounds good right? Well it’s not perfect and indeed if you took the view that using sales representative to deliver drug product information (as opposed to a more collaborative co-creative representative approach) is somewhat old school you could well be given to thinking that Veeva’s just another CRM and will become commoditised in a market where there are less reps and legacy competitors who won’t be sitting on their laurels.

I doubt that’s Veeva plan and in their Approved Email and Digital Asset Management (DAM) products you see the nub of delivering the ‘omni-channel’ strategy that pharma wants. Roadmap items give a nod to greater interaction experiences.

Good luck to them and anyone else who can crack it I say. We build alot of iReps (Veeva’s iPad detailing framework) but it would be great to see the deployment of a full marketing automation suite.

But, what does all this mean for their results and in turn why am I interested in what it means for the industry?

In general terms good numbers for Veeva (>8 cents per share earnings for q4 2015) will reflect not just a greater uptake for them but more generally be a proxy for the rate at which the industry is embracing digital / multi- / omni-channel marketing and the switching of budgets more generally. So good news for Veeva investors is good news for the industry IMHO. Beyond the headline it’s worth considering the breakdown and any guidance given on the uptake of revenue from their emerging product lines or markets. Again, that in turn is good guidance for the industry and good strategically for Veeva.

So I say good luck Veeva, here’s to 8 cents per share for the quarterly number and if not it’ll be hands on the sell button, although long term I’d be inclined to look for opportunities to buy it as it’s one of the very few companies that have discovered real scalability in the pharmaceutical marketing sector.

I’d love to hear what you think about Veeva or pharmaceutical digital marketing.


PS: Our service is a wonderfully innovative game changer for a social marketing service to tag onto your Veeva multi channel suite campaigns 🙂