Celebrating the Value of Professional Advertising: The Doctors’ Choice Awards


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More than 11,000 physicians cast their vote for the top medical journal ads of 2003. The winners were selected from 291 journal advertisements representing the top 200 advertised products in 2003.
The Association of Medical Publications (AMP) created The Doctors’ Choice Awards (TDC) in 2003 as a research and awards program to honor the best in medical journal advertising. Different from other programs that honor professional advertising based on what agencies and advertisers choose to submit for judging by a panel or jury, TDC’s methodology is based on physicians’ responses to which messages are getting through in the competitive world, in essence researching the source of pharmaceutical success: prescribing physicians. This year’s response rate represented the views of 11,100 physicians, almost double that of last year’s program.
Because there are more than 3,000 ads appearing in medical journals annually, it was not possible for TDC to gain a census, but by researching the 200 top-spending products, it provided a survey of the major players.
“Some might question the methodology, but we have sample sizes that are unprecedented,” says William G. Castagnoli, director of TDC. “For example, in the cardiology area, which researched 26 ads, the average response rate was 559 doctors, and in the pediatric category, which researched 24 ads, the average response rate was 673. These physicians took the time to go on the Internet, review the ads, and then send back the questionnaire. With any research there are people who might say the results are not reflective of the marketplace, but these numbers speak for themselves.”
For the 2004 awards, doctors were asked to evaluate ads based on the following questions: whether an ad communicates clearly and quickly, helps with clinical decisions, prompts seeking more information or re-examination of treatment, has immediate appeal to gain interest, adds to information provided by company representatives, and reminds physicians about the value of the product prescribed. These questions were developed last year through an e-mail study among 15,000 doctors as to their preferences in journal advertising messages; 428 physicians responded. The physicians rated these ad attributes on a scale of 1 to 5. Scores ranged from 3.6 to 4.6, this weighted scale was used in the formula to calculate TDC rankings.
According to TDC organizers, the program is unprecedented both as an advertising research tool and as a service program of the AMP.
“Because the research is asking the target audience of the advertising — the physician — what he or she thinks, the awards program celebrates the value of medical publications in educating clinicians about the changes in the healthcare environment,” says Jonathan L. Bigelow, group VP and general manager of CMP Healthcare Media’s Cliggott Publishing Group and 2004 president of the AMP. “That’s an important message…

The 2004 Doctors Choice Award Winners
Sound Bites From The Winners