One-on-One with Virginia Evans, Medicx VP of Performance Analytics

From the value of audience quality and the focus on measurability to award-winning chili and 90s music, we learn what’s on this Medicx executive’s mind.

Q: The pharma industry has been your home for most of your career. What about the work do you find most exciting?

Virginia Evans: My first job out of college was teaching mathematics in a public school.  But I’ve been involved in pharma since 1996. What’s cool is when I can take what I have learned, from any position I’ve held, and apply it to something new. For example, I worked on clinical trials for ALS and MS, which taught me so much about those conditions. Then, when a campaign for one of those conditions comes up, I can speak to it with some knowledge and experience. 

I like sharing how measurement works and empowering other people to use that knowledge. I don’t want the work I do to be secret or for it to be something that people don’t understand. I want people throughout the Medicx organization to be able to apply what they have learned about measurement, so they are making informed optimizations based on the campaign performance they observe. I want the whole team to have all the information. They have access to the same reporting I do. I want to be sure they feel comfortable using it to their advantage to further educate our clients and build and optimize great campaigns. 

Q: Since joining Medicx, you have evolved our approach to performance measurement, and audience quality has become a more significant focus. Why the shift?

VE: When it comes down to it, parts of our industry have always thought about audience quality. It’s the first step to other metrics. If you can’t get your ad in front of the right people, you can’t have an impact. And that’s what Medicx does–we get clients’ ads in front of the right people while reducing waste. 

It’s rare to get someone with no history with a condition to take a prescription drug. So you locate hyper-local areas with evidence of patients who have a history–they’ve been diagnosed with a condition, they have taken a specific prescription. Then you determine where they are in the treatment journey and serve them an appropriate message. These patients are more likely to talk with their healthcare provider about a client’s product.

We are working harder than ever to optimize our campaigns–not just for online metrics such as click-through rate, but also for audience quality, which is the natural outcome of our Micro-Neighborhood® targeting approach. And the good news is that audience quality and the online metrics have a symbiotic relationship. Favorable audience quality can positively impact online metrics.  More importantly for marketers, good audience quality is a precursor to relevant doctor office visits, and new patient starts for a brand.

Q: That’s an exciting concept–the relationship between audience quality and online metrics. Can you tell me a bit more about that?

VE: Sometimes, we see a situation where audience quality is strong, but the click-through rate is low, particularly in comparison to endemic sites. It’s crucial to remember Medicx campaigns are programmatic and don’t often appear on endemic sites.

Rather than connect with consumers while they search or read about their condition, we catch them during the rest of their life.

For example, you have a disease, and you see a brand ad while you are checking baseball scores on a sports site. You don’t click on that ad, but you receive the message, and your awareness builds. Later you are reading your favorite news site and see the brand message again. You may not click on the ad (if at all) until you see the ad multiple times. Click-through rates may not be at the expected level, but the impressions serve their purpose. Our job is to serve that ad to people in hyper-local areas where we see evidence of the condition–purposeful click-through won’t happen at all if the ad is served to people who don’t find it relevant.

Q: Which industry trend are you most excited about right now?

VE: In general, clients have become very focused on measurability and choosing media (and media partners) based on their ability to be measured. 

In some cases, clients pass on a given media channel because it can’t be measured well or easily. But it forces us, whose job is measurement, to be a little creative and to think about how we can link exposures back to an outcome in a privacy- and HIPAA-compliant manner.

Understanding the interplay between channels is also essential; clients want to know how each channel/partner worked and how it worked with everything else on the plan.

Clients need measurement to help them evaluate how campaigns fit into their holistic marketing plans. And even if a campaign doesn’t succeed financially, measurement provides them with insights to improve in the future. 

Q: I know you like to spend time cooking in your hours outside of the office. Can you share one or two of your favorite dishes?

VE: I love to make soup. It’s is my thing. Of course, anyone can throw a few ingredients in a pot and call it soup. But it’s the development of the flavors that make it delicious–using a good stock, roasting vegetables for extra flavor, or adding an unexpected spice. 

I do a pretty good oyster stew. I like to make cream of asparagus soup in the spring. And my mom taught me to make tasty bean soup. I make a whole set of different chilis that I think are good. My chicken and black bean chili is award-winning—it came in third in a chili-making competition once.

Q: You also like to listen to 90s music. What are a few of your go-to songs?

VE: My children usually tell me I listen to bad (not just old) music, but I love sharing my music with them. Although the bulk of my CD collection is 90s music, “Dream On” by Aerosmith is one of my all-time favorites. Anything by Train makes me smile and sing along.

I also listen to my kids’ music to keep up with what they like. I love some of the newer songs that are about empowerment. “Confident” by Demi Lovato is a great one. It has a horn section, which I love. And it has a positive message; I want my children to be confident and not be shy about it. I’ve also really liked almost everything I’ve heard by Imagine Dragons.

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