The Patient Perspective: Do Patients Feel Informed by Pharmaceutical Ads?

The very first pharmaceutical ad had a brief run. When Boots revolutionized healthcare marketing by airing the country’s first TV commercial for a prescription drug nearly 40 years ago — Rufen, a pain reliever brand name for ibuprofen — the federal government sent a cease-and-desist letter within 48 hours. The FDA hadn’t yet established guidelines for pharmaceutical ads, which had traditionally been geared toward healthcare providers (HCP).

Since 1983, the advertising landscape has exploded for providers and patients alike. Over the past year, the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry represented one of the largest increases in digital ad spend, projected by eMarketer to reach $11.25 billion in 2021. This massive number represents an increase of 18% over last year.

Patients’ Perspective on Pharmaceutical Ads

Pharmaceutical ads have the opportunity to make a positive impact on patient outcomes with relevant direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising that educates patients about possible conditions and treatment options. Greater awareness strengthens the patient-provider relationship, empowering both to have more informed discussions about the patient’s health and wellness. These discussions underpin the formation of a partnership based on trust and centered on the patient’s needs, which can ultimately yield better patient adherence and outcomes.

Thinking about awareness, we wondered: Do patients feel aware of their conditions and treatment options?

To better understand how patients feel about pharmaceutical ads, we asked them. DeepIntent surveyed 1,229 U.S. adults about everything from how informative and relevant they find pharmaceutical ads to whether the ads they see inspire action.

Our research found that there is a clear information gap between patients and providers. While nearly three-quarters of respondents agree that more lives could be saved if patients were informed about their pharmaceutical options, 30% of patients don’t feel well informed about prescription drug options before speaking with a provider. What’s more, just 35% of patients feel the pharmaceutical ads they see are applicable to them.

A Missed Opportunity

Many healthcare marketers are missing a fantastic opportunity to reach campaign-specific audiences. Patients are receptive to pharmaceutical ads. Patients are more likely to take treatment recommendations for something they recognize from advertising, while half of the respondents even said it’s helpful to see advertising for something they’ve experienced.

Unlike most other products, you can’t just click through an ad and buy prescription drugs. As a result, conversations with HCPs are pharmaceutical ads’ call-to-action, which highlights the importance of education even more — for patients and providers.

The Benefits of an Integrated Campaign

Performing case studies for DeepIntent Outcomes™, the script optimization engine we’re launching in April, we learned that integrated advertising that reaches both patients and providers improves script performance. Combining real-world clinical data with real-time DSP optimizations, DeepIntent Outcomes™ enables healthcare marketers to measure and optimize live campaigns, learning what’s working quickly with daily data refreshes. One beta tester saw success with both HCP and DTC advertising, though the integrated campaign was by far the most powerful, generating 35% higher TRx.

When both parties are exposed to the same information and can speak the same language, they’re more inclined to have thoughtful, candid conversations. This instills a level of confidence that drives better adherence and ultimately, patient outcomes.

Download The Patient Perspective: Paving the Path to Awareness, Ad Relevance and Empowerment to learn more about how patients feel about pharmaceutical ads, including their most valued sources of information and how many believe more lives can be saved if patients were better-informed about their pharmaceutical options.

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