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Inova Pharmaceuticals

Difflam STOMS


Vizeum, D2D and The Sore Throat Outbreak Monitoring System (STOMS): using data science to plan for unpredictability

Click to view: STOMS Video



Difflam is a medicated throat remedy sold only in pharmacies. It competes with a number of products that are more widely available and distributed in supermarkets/petrol stations.

Difflam needed to defend its number 1 market share position within pharmacies at a time of increased competition due to established rivals spending up to 3 times more in media and the rise of new category entrants.

Planning media for the cold and flu season is tricky due to the all-important season peak shifting significantly YOY. Vizeum had to develop a way of ensuring media was live exactly when sore throats occurred.



No available data sources accurately tracked incidence of sore throats cases in Australia, making a data-driven strategy difficult. Traditionally, planners used data from previous years as a guide and hoped that historic patterns continued, which rarely happened.

Vizeum commissioned Data2Decisions to develop The Sore Throat Outbreak Monitoring System (STOMS) using over 30 data sources to predict incidences of sore-throat cases across each state in Australia. STOMS is a game-changer; STOMS enabled increased accuracy of our media planning for longer lead-time channels, as well as tailoring solutions for more responsive digital platforms.



Utilising STOMS, Vizeum worked with our DAN partners to develop agile plans in line with sore-throat cases. STOMS’ accurate long term forecast enabled planning of less agile radio and OOH media with investment being split based on these trends.

Daily weather data was fed into STOMS to produce local trends estimates, which highlighted expected short-term fluctuations in sore-throats. Vizeum could then reallocate from lower indexing states to states with higher incidence of sore throats. Never before had Difflam been armed with such a sophisticated system of media implementation.



Despite increased competitive pressure and 2016 having a significant decrease in the number of sore throat cases, sales of Difflam grew by an impressive 3%! This growth enabled Difflam to maintain its number 1 position in market. When looking back, STOMS proved to be incredibly accurate with the model showing an 80% correlation to sore throat sales. Now Difflam has the confidence to plan for the unpredictable well into the future.