Digital health perspectives: Matt McNally

Matt McNally, President of Publicis Health Media offers his insight into digital engagement in our latest ‘Digital health perspective’ interview.

Earlier this year the world’s leading healthcare communications network, Publicis Healthcare Communications Group, launched a new business unit, Publicis Health Media dedicated to helping clients to connect with their audiences with relevant, engaging experiences.

Matt McNally was named President of the new unit, and had previously launched and led the media divisions of Digitas Health and Razorfish Health. He speaks with us here, in our latest Digital health perspective interview, on trends in digital health and how best to engage with HCPs online.

Interview summary

RA: Matt thank you for agreeing to take part in this interview. Could you start please by sharing your background and your current focus?

MM: I have worked in the health and wellness space, including pharmaceutical biotech over the counter for almost 17 years. My background has been in consumer and healthcare professional media, both US and globally, working across all those different sectors. I launched the media practice at Digitas Health nearly 10 years ago, and have grown that business in the US and now over the past year growing our larger footprint outside of the US to be one of US’ largest buyer of health and wellness media, and now on the forefront of innovation outside of the US.

My current title and role is that of president of Publicis Health Media worldwide. Publicis Health Media Group is part of the Publicis healthcare communications group family of agencies. My sister agencies include Saatchi & Saatchi, Digitas Health, Publicis Life Brand, Publicis Resolute in France, and Razorfish Healthware, and I now oversee all the health and wellness media clients for all of those brands worldwide.

RA: What trends have you noticed in the digital health landscape over the past few years?

MM: One of the biggest trends we’re seeing is a seismic shift towards digital, specifically in the healthcare professional space both within the US and Europe. The biggest trend is towards self-directed education among products in the pharmaceutical and biotech space, and relying on digital to do so.

Another huge trend over the past few years is a shift to define digital and digital use outside of desktop, and a huge shift in mobile. We’re seeing physicians outpace consumers in terms of mobile device usage for health and wellness information, again both on the consumer and the physician side.

Another digital trend that we’re seeing outside of mobile is the vast increase in demand among healthcare professionals to see and interact with video-based content, and digital becoming a huge part of that.

We’re also seeing a rise in digital among brand marketers, specifically in the EU, in their allocation and use and desire to do more digital.

“We’re seeing physicians outpace consumers in terms of mobile device usage for health and wellness information…”

RA: So what specific trends have you noted in the EU marketplace?

MM: One of the biggest trends that we’re seeing is the overall reduction in sales force in the EU marketplace, and the impact that is having on physician audiences. They are being driven to digital and non-personal promotion for further education around specific brands, patient educational materials and drug interactions.

Another impact that we’re seeing in the EU marketplace with a lot of large clients is a decrease in the spend that brand marketers have had for other tactics, including meetings. This is again driving the need for digital to be a proxy or surrogate, or sometimes a replacement of meetings in the European landscape.

Those are two marketplace factors that we’re seeing in Europe on the brand marketer side. But now in the publisher space there’s a great desire in the European market for marketers to embrace the digital channel, and there are a few publishers that are doing a good job. But the technologies that we need to leverage just aren’t out there yet.

We have sophisticated marketers that have a desire to do more digital, and as an agency we’re trying to help be that bridge between them and the publisher partners to help the publishers really create programmes and opportunities for our European clients.

It’s an interesting three legged stool approach that we’re taking by connecting the media expertise that we bring, the desire and brand knowledge, and content around specific products that our brand marketers have at pharmaceutical companies, and then really activating that with the new publisher community in the European landscape, much like what we’ve done in the US over the past 10 or 12 years. But the timeframe now is just tighter, everyone wants to do it faster.

RA: What key understandings would you say are important to consider when engaging with healthcare professionals with digital media?

MM: What we and clients tend to first consider is where are the HCPS going online? In the EU marketplace sites like, Univadis in France or DocCheck in Germany are all popular.

However, what’s really important, specifically in Europe, is to consider what healthcare professionals are looking for from distinct channels, not just where are they going to. We’re seeing in the UK and Spain an increased demand for video-based content from physicians. We’re partnering with brands and marketers and publishers to figure out how to distribute video-based content since needs in those markets are around video. In Italy we’re seeing a desire among physicians for multi-screen access, and a really high penetration of mobile device usage.

In all European markets we’re looking for ways to unlock digital, to distribute client and brand materials directly to physicians. We’re also looking at how we can bridge that gap between media and creative. Historically we would create one or two healthcare professional facing materials, and then we just have that live on different web properties, it lives on, it lives in mobile. But we really feel the opportunity is to understand the behaviour physicians’ have in different digital channels, and then work out how we partner with creative teams. Sometimes it’s within our own agency, sometimes it’s developed by the client to really create better engagements with physicians in the European marketplace.

“In all European markets we’re looking for ways to unlock digital”

RA: Finally what do you think the digital health space is going to look like in 10 years’ time?

MM: I think 10 years is a lot of years to look at. Changes are happening every day. Some of the trends that I talked about if we were on the phone last year I wouldn’t be talking about the trends that we’re seeing in mobile, and in video.

But I think the biggest trends that will continue into the future is the impact of technology and the ability to leverage technology to gather insights and distribute content more quickly, and more targeted to our healthcare professional audiences worldwide.

Digital is going to constantly change and evolve, but technology is going to be a big area of investment specifically in the European market. It will be used to work better, smarter and faster in terms of understanding:-

• how physician wants to engage with us

• how that varies across the European markets

• how we can leverage technology to really engage with physicians through their mode of choice, through desktop, through mobile, through social

• how we tie that all together on the back end in terms of measurement and analytics.

RA: Thank you for your time.




About the interviewee:

Matt launched the Publicis Health Media business in 2013, making it the first network of its kind to fuse media into a specialized health and wellness practice. A new business unit within Publicis Healthcare Communications Group, PHM offers broad thinking and buying power to address today’s ever-changing media landscape by helping pharma, health, and wellness clients to connect with their audiences with relevant, engaging experiences.

Prior to that, Matt launched and led the media practice of Digitas Health and Razorfish Health, arguably the largest media buying entity in healthcare in the world. Under Matt’s leadership, the company has secured media agency of record status with a number of pharmaceutical companies, and has introduced some of the most innovative programs in the space today. His impact on the industry extends past his work with clients, as he serves also on the Google Health Advisory Panel and is a frequent contributor to industry publications.

Prior to joining Digitas Health, Matt was media director at Insight Interactive Group (IIG), he helped launch the practice. While at IIG, Matt oversaw online advertising campaigns for numerous Johnson & Johnson brands.

Matt also worked at Razorfish, where he was the pharmaceutical media supervisor, working with many OTC and Rx brands. Matt began his advertising career with Earle Palmer Brown as a traditional media planner/buyer in print and broadcast. He has more than 15 years of experience in the field.

Matt has Bachelor of Science degree in business administration, with a concentration in marketing and management, from the University of Delaware. He is also one of the co-founders of the Philadelphia Interactive Marketing Association (PhIMA).

Counting as clients many of the world’s leading pharmaceutical, bioscience, and medical device companies, Digitas Health is a next-generation marketing agency that helps build health care brands that patients, caregivers, and health care professionals feel confident turning to and recommending when they are sick, in need, or helping others.

What trends have you noticed in the digital health landscape over the past few years?