Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What's Brandweek's NRx Strategy?

First, let me apologize to Peter Rost and Brandweek for starting a rumor that Brandweek is distancing itself from the NRx blog since peter Rost has taken over (see my original post here).

It seems I was mistaken that the logo was changed by dropping the "BrandWeek" portion (see Fard Johnmar's interview with Jim Edwards, former NRx blogger, here). And on the Brandweek.com site, Brandweek NRx is prominently mentioned. However, it is still difficult to find that link by clicking on the Neilsen Company name at the bottom of the NRx site.

Perhaps Brandweek is laughing all the way to the bank. Rost claims that "BrandweekNRX beats every record in pharma blogging" and that the blog gets 6,000 unique visitors per day! Whether or not this is a lasting trend or just a spicy spike in curiosity seeker readership remains to be seen.

Rost lists the TOP TEN pages that readers of NRx have looked at. Leaving aside the home page, about 50% of these pages are devoted to either Rost's self-promotion of his book or of Brandweek NRx "breaking" stories. Only 2 pages out of the 8 (excluding the home page), or 25%, involve stories about the pharmaceutical industry.

Since Rost took over NRx, there have been 24 postings (see list below). I find that there are 3 types of posts (see chart):

  1. Shameless self-promotion posts (58% of all posts)
  2. Posts about the pharmaceutical industry (21% of all posts)
  3. Fluff or posts about off-topic issues having nothing to do with the pharmaceutical industry (21% of all posts)
To quote Rost about his TOP TEN list: "It should be noted that any snapshot like this one overemphasizes recent articles, but may give an overall good indication of readers' interest, and if followed continuously, helps us develop exactly the kind of stories you want to read about."

It's amazing that so many people would want to read "exactly these kind of stories!" NRx's 6,000 daily readers are obviously Rost fans from whom I expect to get hate mail as a result of this post.

If Brandweek's strategy was to get a quick jump in readership no matter who those readers are, then it has succeeded! It may more like a tactic than a strategy, however. I still remember Rost saying that his assignment may be temporary. Perhaps Brandweek intends to sell NRx and the pumped up readership can only help.

List of Recent NRx Posts
  1. 8/1/2007: [Self-referential post] "The media world reacts to Brandweek hiring a blogger."
  2. 8/2/2007: [Interview of Christiane Trulove about journalist bloggers; nothing about pharmaceutical marketing.] “The Med Ad News editor has a secret . . .”
  3. 8/2/2007: [More about bloggers and journalists, nothing about pharmaceutical marketing.] “Congressional panel approves legal shield for bloggers.”
  4. 8/2/2007: [About pharmaceutical whistleblowers; links back to Rost’s Question Authority blog] “Pfizer terminates three executives in HIV division - Ropes & Gray investigates allegations about illegal marketing”
  5. 8/3/2007: [Self-referential post] “Unbelievable.
  6. 8/3/2007: [Self-referential post] “Med Ad News comments on BrandweekNRX interview with - Med Ad News”
  7. 8/4/2007: [Self-referential post; no discussion of issues raised] “The most effective marketing.”
  8. 8/4/2007: [Typical Rost Fluff – images and links to mp3 files; references “Pharma Spies,” which may be a blog hosted anonymously by Rost; not real discussion or analysis] “Imagine anti-commercials . . .”
  9. 8/6/2007: [Self-referential and a waste of BrandweekNRX space; nothing whatever to do with Pharma marketing] “BrandweekNRX blows the whistle on the "Pharma Blogosphere Survey"”
  10. 8/6/2007: [Self-referential] “Pharma Industry blog "Drug Wonks" Reacts to calls to fire Rost”
  11. 8/6/2007: [Scant 150-word post with self-referential links back to BrandweekNR and Question Authority] “Pfizer HIV drug approved shortly after three HIV executives terminated.”
  12. 8/7/2007: [Self-referential ad] “Expect the unexpected at BrandweekNRX”
  13. 8/7/2007: [Petty Gripe and self-referential post; nothing about the pharmaceutical industry] “The creator of the Pharma Blogosphere Survey blows a fuse”
  14. 8/7/2007: [At last a pharmaceutical related topic; Rost took up the story after it was published on PharmaGossip earlier in the morning] “Free drugs are here! What will this mean for you?”
  15. 8/8/2007: [Self-referential post] “Pharmaceutical Executive follows BrandweekNRX's lead”
  16. 8/8/2007: [Self-referential post; takes credit beating NYT to the story while it was PharmaGossip that wrote about it first!] “The New York Times follows BrandweekNRX's lead”
  17. 8/8/2007: [Shameless Self-promoting ad] “Read tomorrow's news today. On BrandweekNRX.”
  18. 8/8/2007 [Fluff: Rehash of old QA story about a whistleblower who was not even an employee at a pharmaceutical company] “Secretary fired for blogging wins both lawsuit and book deal.”
  19. 8/9/2007 [Pharma-related story about j&J] “Red Cross sued over its - Red cross!”
  20. 8/9/2007 [Unremarkable story about fellow blogger] “Straight talk with a journalist who turned cutting-edge blogger.”
  21. 8/10/2007 [Shameless Self-promoting ad about his new fiction book] “Declassified CIA documents reveal that drug companies gave the CIA drugs with bad side effects.”
  22. 8/10/2007 [Another shameless Self-promoting ad about his new fiction book] “My new book - KILLER DRUG - on Amazon's top 25 legal thrillers list!”
  23. 8/13/2007 [Shameless Self-promoting ad] “BrandweekNRX beats every record in pharma blogging.”
  24. 8/13/2007 [Rehash of story previously publish in The Day] "Pfizer loses more personal data to thiefs.(sic)"


Scott Bartz said...

Believe it or not, I have a legitimate question.

It seems that shameless self promotion (at least from someone people are interested in), along with fluff and copies of the top news stories seen on many other sites, attracts the most traffic; while stories that are unique or offer a fresh perspective are ignored or dismissed as irrelevant.

How does someone who actually get paid to post on blogs balance the need for traffic with the desire to write meaningful, but time consuming, articles?

PharmaGuy said...

That's a mystery wrapped in an enigma, for sure!

For me, if Pharma Blogosphere continues to grow, I will soon only be gossiping here and abandoning more serious analysis at Pharma Marketing Blog.

As Peter says, who are we to question what our readers want?

Scott Bartz said...

I'm working on an hypothesis that within the answer to this mystery lies the meaning of life.

PharmaGuy said...

Life, the universe, and everything! It's all in The Guide...

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe the incredible spin Rost placed on his book...posting how it reached #24 on Amazon.com! Anyone can get their publisher to buy a few thousand books and watch rankings increase. But, now...it's back where it belongs...#92,454 and is not ranked in the legal thrillers anymore! He deleted my posts from his website because I simply checked to see if it was #24 by using the link that HE provided...and since his book wasn't even in the top 100, I simply made him aware of the fact since Amazon is updated on an hourly basis! I was a fan of Rost, but now I am sick of his shameless plugs and lack of integrity regarding the Madison Avenue promotion of his book. From now on, my two most reliable sources with relevant information regarding my industry will come from Mr. Mack and Mr. Silverman! Thank you guys for keeping it real and informative with just a hint of sarcasm!

Anonymous said...

Since coming to Brandweek NRx, I have received so many self-promotional e-mails from Rost I almost started filtering him...but then thought better of it. I've decided to blog about his self-promotion...

Anonymous said...

Hi John, I thought you might appreciate this...

Regards, Giles...

Anonymous said...


Do you purposely misspell Nielsen everytime you use the name?

Just wondering.

PharmaGuy said...

No, I'm just a bit dyslexic, combined with the fact that I don't type very well. Not giving a sh*t also is a factor, however.