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FCB Health @ SXSW 2014: Experiences & Perspectives

By Graham Johnson, SVP, Digital Operations;Michelle Wescott, Associate Director, Strategic TechnologyJoe Fisher, VP, Digital Strategy; FCB Health

A little less than a month ago, FCB Health employees attended SXSW Interactive, the week-long festival in Austin, TX that brings together thought leaders from a broad spectrum of professional fields to present new ideas, promote creativity, and launch new technologies. FCB Health attendees took a look at the themes of this year's event through a healthcare lens and here's what they saw: 
Social Technology's Impact on Language
Symbols, slang and behaviors in digital communications are greatly influencing the use and evolution of languages. It is important to take this knowledge of how language and social technology are evolving and use it to better understand our customers. It is also important to develop solutions and communications within the health field that take language and big data into account. However, it's not enough to mimic the language in content we produce, we must also create apps, features and functionality that can extract data from Digital Body Language (DBL) and provide useful information or a useful service. For example, Oracle has developed software that scans the DBL in workers' emails / calendars / work chats, etc., and suggests different activities to make sure employees have a good balance and quality of life.

Digital Place-Based Ads (DPA)
Out-of-home (OOH) is powerful, simple and visual. Images are processed 60,000x faster than text and DPA will likely be the channel to offer the biggest opportunity for advertisers over the next couple of years. Advertisers will have the opportunity to innovate and to disrupt, but most importantly, engage customers. Think of DPA/OOH as merely a starting point. Notably, a few brands have proven that DPA can be a catalyst for deep brand engagement if the customer experience is teased out and we look to integrate it across the advertising ecosystem. In Pharma, for example, Nuvigil's takeover of all Times Square digital billboards helped to increase condition and treatment awareness for those with sleep apnea.

Hacking Movement 
The essence of "hacking" is "taking any resource, item or idea, trying to improve it, then sharing successes and fails." We can see the movement in technology settings. Just a few years ago there were only 12 "hacker spaces" in the U.S., now there are 1,500—sponsored by companies, organically-created, or developed via local communities. This movement can be useful as a form of research, CRM development, and the means to make tools/features/functionality easier to own and share.  Biomedical treatment, for example, can be a starting point for "hacking."  We must find ways to allow customers to be more hands-on and self-guided.

We've seen many examples of gamification as a successful idea for engagement. But now we can join the principles of gamification, human motivation, and big data and use them to drive loyalty. The premise, particularly for Pharma, is that loyalty is commoditized and lost. We can think of gamification as the interface for how we motivate people through data. Video games have been doing this for years (think about what keeps people coming back over and over again, fail after fail?) Now the idea is that we can use data and a welcoming, dynamic interface to challenge and motivate. In Pharma, we tend to use data to target unilaterally, and to report retrospectively. Those in Pharma need to change their  mindset to one that leverages a cycle of: Engaging Online Experiences à Big Data on User Activity à Customer Actions à Motivating Better Performance. 

Wearable Technology
Now that new devices such as Wello and Pulsesense are being created, how can we leverage these new technologies for Pharma clients? This data can be used to track a patient's health and help patients better manage their disease, such as diabetes and obesity. Health-monitoring applications are even being prescribed by doctors as a part of their patients' care plans. Advertisers, and their clients, must learn to use these devices to their advantage. And increasingly, the industry thinking beyond hardware and apps, and instead to services that warrant a monthly fee.
Tech is Finally Disrupting Healthcare
SXSW debuted new on-demand applications, sites, and software, from scheduling to prescribing, that impact the way Health Care Providers (HCPs) treat their patients. We're moving to on-demand model where patients can triage common ailments, locate doctors, read reviews, book appointments, and have prescriptions filled online. As the traditional business model for physicians and hospitals change, how can healthcare marketers leverage this change? Are there opportunities for advertisements or partnerships that can increase brand awareness? 
Privacy & Security
Julian Assange, Founder of WikiLeaks, did a Skype call to an SXSW audience from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where he has been holed up for 600+ days. His main premise was that technology has advanced to the point where the potential for the wholesale surveillance of everyone on the planet is almost here. It's become increasingly important to keep our data safe from the prying eyes of hackers and even governments. This is of particular concern to healthcare professionals because Pharma is a highly regulated industry with specific guidelines around the collection and storage of user data. We'll likely see a movement in which every Pharma site uses encryption regardless of features or functionality. We will seek to protect not only the collection of user data, but extend the concept to less obvious concerns such as user's browsing habits.

The themes exposed by SXSW indicate that going forward the challenges for FCB Health will be many and varied, as indeed they will be for everyone in marketing.