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As HCPs Increasingly Expect Personalized Engagement, Pharmas Turn to Modular Intelligent Content. How Does This Work?

While personalized omnichannel communication is becoming the only truly acceptable option in brand communications, Life Sciences are deeply affected by the change. Compared to retail, the amounts of information to deliver alongside the key message are predictably greater for a pharmaceutical product. Even without taking into consideration the “new” channels like social, messengers, etc. that are explored by pharmaceutical marketers, the amounts of content to be produced are growing. To cope with the challenge, pharmaceutical companies are looking to optimize content production and management. Several approaches are used, from establishing centralized Content Factories (hubs) to completely rethinking content as such. Modular Content (and its derivative, Smart Content) are the most promising strategy. What can already be said about it?

What Is Modular Content in Pharma?

In the “classic” content production process, materials are developed as final pieces from the very start: a presentation, an email, etc. Naturally, in many of these, certain parts will become recurrent: the same graph showing, say the absorption timeline or efficiency outcomes across cohorts in a trial can be used in several pieces related to the same brand, portfolio, or condition. As the volumes of content rise, so does the price of creating the same parts over and over again, while also giving more space for errors and bugs.

Modular Content is the approach that solves it by having the content produced (and stored) as the lower-level “building blocks”. A module is the smallest autonomous bundle of content that can still be meaningful and provide enough context for itself. A common misconception is that a module equals simply a graph, an image or block of text; in reality, an actual module includes the content plus the references and the illustrations required for it to be truly autonomous.

Modules are channel-agnostic by nature; they acquire their actual shape only when inserted into channel-specific templates. It is the template that contains information about how the elements are to be placed and aligned, how they should be displayed on mobile, what brand colors are to be automatically applied, and so on.

By assembling content from modules into templates, the organization can acquire large amounts of flexible, easily personalized content items. To prevent misplacement of modules, each module also contains metadata. This sort of “invisible” information can be configured to indicate when, where, and how to use the module, allow to find it in the DAM system easily, as well as apply business rules for its use.

Why This Change?

The reasons this transition is happening are multiple. Different companies have opted for content modularization based on their individual challenges, and this influences the driving factors in the implementation.

The most common ambitions behind modular are:

  • Have better control over the rising amount of assets
  • Improve content quality and compliance
  • Increase cost-efficiency while enhancing personalization
  • Be able to tailor the communications to each audience type
  • Shorten content time-to-market
  • Get a 360° view on content performance and decouple the format/campaign related factors from the inherent potential of content and message

How real is it to attain these ambitions? As of now, several pioneering organizations have already had experience implementing the approach, and there are documented results. According to data from Viseven, who have overseen the implementation in a number of companies, content time to market (CTTM) is down by 50% (specifically, MLR turnaround time is reduced by 30%). Content production cost savings are estimated at 40-60%, depending on how extensively the approach is used.

From Modular Content to Smart Content (and the advent of AI)

Content modularization opens a set of intriguing possibilities that are already becoming reality. Since each module bears its own meaning and can be used multiple times, it has a set of metadata that define what it is about, where and how it may be used, and what topics it is related to. The capacities of today’s Machine Learning and AI are more than sufficient to help streamline the process of tagging the content – and then finding it, and even coming up with suggestions on final assemblies.

Making the content machine-readable optimizes its traceability and facilitates its management. An engine can now “read” the texts, recognize images, transcribe audios to return keywords and topicalities. This can then be used by the system to suggest building certain content items based on the modules identified.

Impact on data

Another advantage of Smart Content lies with improved performance tracking. In the traditional approach, it has always been difficult to “decouple” content performance from key message performance, and general campaign performance. For example, the open rate of a given email could be explained by several factors:

  • the message itself
  • the way it is embodied in content
  • the context (send time, open time, previous interactions, etc.)
  • etc.

With modular content, however, the manager can track the performance of each module separately across different channels. This allows to understand which KPIs are the result of the channel or campaign tactics and what figures are due to the content itself.

Each module is mapped to a key message (or claim); every time the module is used in a material (presentation, email, landing page, messenger ad, etc.) its performance can be tracked through omnichannel integrations back into the DAM system, providing a helicopter view on the insights.

This sort of tracking allows to minimize the inherent risks of content production and make the right decisions about what content to produce and what to kill off for the next cycle. By producing only what performs, and “minimizing waste” (in Lean-like terminology), the marketer can ensure better overall ROI on the campaign overall.

Is there a single way to implement Modular Content?

As of now, the concept is still relatively new, and the general best practices are being defined. As a digital enabler, Viseven has worked on several modular transformation projects, with different motivations as the initial starting point, and different problems to solve. While Viseven’s own expertise has resulted in a set of proven methods and workstreams on the way, the concrete implementation steps ultimately depend on the client company. It has been a beneficial practice to pursue a POC (proof of concept) approach to define the unique needs and peculiarities of the customer organization, and then scale according to the real challenges and priorities.

Learn more about modular content, Smart Content and obtain insights from real projects by talking to an expert.

30th November 2021

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