Dec 31, 2010

Automated speech processing: commercial state of the art

I have always been fascinated by progress in the area of automated speech processing, since my days as a Master's student at the University of Cambridge in Computer Speech and Language Processing and I spent time with Professor Steve Young at the Cambridge University Machine Intelligence Laboratory.

Thus it was with great interest and pleasure that I read this review of the state of the art of commercial speech processing systems within Scientific American earlier this month. Like many high tech fields, there have been mergers and convergence in the suppliers, to the leader Nuance Communications. Extensive pre-training is no longer required. General listening is now possible in structured sub-languages and categories. Plus, the commercial applications have become widespread, especially related to phone interfaces.

Why is this relevant for healthcare relationship marketing. Possible applications include:

* Acquisition and registration into programs via mobile smartphones, for either patients or professionals.

* Automated dictation transcription processing of the highly structured clinical reports that physicians issue after seeing patients.

* speech to text social network inputs as a convenience, or for the visually impaired.

* processing call center transcripts for marketing intelligence.

* insert your brainstorm here.

Final checking to make sure

How am I spending some of the last hours of 2010? Doing final proofreading and editing of my upcoming book: Healthcare Relationship Marketing, Gower Press. This book is
available for pre-order from Amazon and other booksellers, and discounts are available. One last look to create the index at the back, do final proofreading. To make sure that before thousands (hopefully) see this text and use it for education and professional reference, that it ties together with one voice.

Call me if interested! I will blog again on this book as publication approaches end of February

But more generally, here is good advice for 2011: before sending external communications, take one last look, one last proofread. You are what you portray yourself as, your words are part of your appearance. Be ready and rehearse before a big presentation or even a conference call. You'll be glad you did.

Dec 14, 2010

Tracking privacy in online advertising

The climate is really shifting in online advertising the past few months. There is heightened awareness from the press on what behavioral information that digital advertisers are collecting. The government is responding:
the Federal Trade Commission has recommended universal “do not track” mechanism that would allow consumers to opt-out of the monitoring systems that follow users’ movements from site to site. For a gooda nalysis on the FTC ruling, see the Privacy Law blog article.

In addition, the leading web browser company, Microsoft, has announced that
the new Internet Explorer browser (IE9) –due out next year will include a “tracking protection” feature that allows users to limit third party data requests.

Meanwhile, online advertisers are trying to insure they are able to deliver effective ads, educating the public on the benefits. See the Wall St Journal blog on their planned campaign.

What are the consequences of increased privacy tools available to consumers? A Forbes magazine blogger notes that this will require marketers to be more intelligent and persuasive with messaging, and not merely rely on consumer background data stored in cookies.

I would say there is another consequence to online advertising and media placement: the premium will be contextual ad placement on relevant content areas, as opposed to websites merely statistically correlated with the advertiser's website.

One final thought ... how many consumers will take advantage of these new privacy features? There has been a mix the past few years.
The "do not call" consumer list gained a fairly high response once it came out. Email span opt out rates can get as high as 10 percent or more on a campaign, showing positive momentum. On the professional side, at first Physician "AMA opt out" of Rx tracking, on the other hand, was fiarly low at the start.

Uptake on privacy tool adoption will depend on publicity, ease of adoption, and the consumer mindset.

Dec 11, 2010

The patient journey to diagnosis

My colleagues and I are publishing a weekly article on Mediaposts's Marketing Health section. Our article is called called Healthy Observations.

This month's article offers a fresh perspective on the patient journey to diagnosis. It is not always according to plan, especially with serious conditions like cancer. A marketer has to influence patients at where they are likely to engage, especially in the digital channels. Please take a look at the article and let us know!

Dec 8, 2010

Groupons and Healthcare

Are you a Groupon member yet? The group-based, local market volume discount website has been in business for two years and has grown like wildfire. The latest news is how Google has been attempting to purchase them, and as of now Groupon has resisted

Very intriguing to think of how far Groupon can penetrate healthcare. So far Groupon offers have primarily been with cash-based, wellness types of services. These include vision care, spas, dermatology, laser hair removal, and healthclubs. In principle, pharmacies could be active here, for consumer goods and maybe some over the counter items. Indeed, has leveraged Groupon for offers, as shown in this Mom blog.

If you are in a cash-based consumer wellness area, then Groupon seems like a fertile ground for local market retail partnership and testing of offers. It may also be a great venue for acquisition into consumer RM programs.

However, crossing the line to Rx-based medicine seems like purely speculation at this point.

Could Groupons be valuable to new physician group practices that are trying to grow a patient base? A specialty practice physician blogger is considering Groupon as a marketing tool. One hospitalist physician blogger has considered the insurance implications.

Groupon requires login and registration, and so collects data on certain purchase preferences, including health and wellness if those are bid on by the individual joining a group discount. Therefore HIPAA is likely a limitation that prevents placement of more prescription or clinically-based offers.

I look forward to reading studies about the impact of Groupon generally, or on health in particular. Readers are invited to post their thoughts or experiences.

Dec 2, 2010

Display banner click rates - falling, but relevant?

A recent article in eMarketer cites a Mediamind study on banner response rates shows a decreasing average annual banner click through rate over the past three years: from .12 percent in 2007 to .09 percent in 2010.

For those not used to reading small banner CTR numbers, what does this figure mean: if you put a banner campaign out in the consumer world, then for each million impressions - per million - then 900 people would click through to your website. Note that if you are running and acquisition campaign and have a great website rate of 10% signups, then your million exposures get you 90 acquired leads.

Thus banners for consumer RM acquisition are, on the surface, not as effective a source as they used to be. True? Is it still a wise choice? That depends on the cost you pay, measured as cost per "lead". You might think of a lead as a website visitor, but really you should get as close to "purchase" as possible.

The study claims that viewers of banners are more likely to purchase than the average person.
However, keep in mind that since banners target by demographics, geographics, and past website viewing behavior, this targeting effect is expected. Also, people rarely view banners in isolation, but as part of a combined media campaign.

To download this report and see the details, click here

The more I experience banner campaigns in pharma CRM, the more I feel that banners are best thought of as brand awareness advertising to reach people near the top of the funnel. Like magazines and billboards, but usually cheaper. Success for banner campaigns is about placement to target audience, and cost efficiencies.

Cost per acquisition buys do exist. However, in healthcare and pharma, the question remains as to whether they can acquire enough.