The Patient Perspective: Do Patients Find Pharmaceutical Ads Relevant?

Even as advertising technology gets more intelligent, more data-driven, and more automated, achieving ad relevance is no easy task. It can be especially challenging for pharmaceutical companies looking to reach patients who might be in the market for a certain drug or treatment.

When it comes to pharmaceutical ads, personalizing the connection with patients and offering them relevant, clear, and informative guidance can enormously impact whether they seek treatment, adhere to treatment plans, or encourage loved ones to do the same. However, pharmaceutical companies are spending more and more each year on ads that are at risk of being poorly targeted and largely irrelevant to the audiences that encounter them.

With the majority of the pharmaceutical industry allocating 75% of its ad spend toward traditional TV in 2020, one question remains: are pharmaceutical ads actually reaching — and resonating with — their intended audience? To get a sense of how these ads are being received, DeepIntent surveyed 1,244 U.S. adults to understand whether they find pharmaceutical advertising relevant, memorable, and actionable.

Patients’ Attitudes Toward Pharmaceutical Ads

Considering the overwhelming amount of advertisements that consumers see each day, the chances of all ads being relevant to one single consumer are slim to none. That had us wondering about the effectiveness of pharmaceutical advertising in reaching the right patients — and evaluating that effectiveness through the patient lens.

Earlier this year, we conducted our first patient study, which surveyed Americans about their attitudes toward pharmaceutical advertising and how they perceive its impact on their health and wellness. We found that while patients do not feel particularly well-informed about their treatment options, some patients would be more likely to take medication if they saw an ad about it.

Our continuation of that research discovered that only one in three respondents (36%) say pharmaceutical ads make them feel better informed when discussing treatment options with their doctor. This means that 64% of respondents could benefit from more personalized, timely, and informative ads, presenting an undeniable opportunity for more targeted and relevant advertising.

Making Ads Memorable and Actionable

With a variety of different screens and an abundance of content all competing for consumers’ attention, ads need to stand out, or else they’ll be tuned out. For patients to find pharmaceutical ads memorable, they first need to be relevant; 51% said ads are more memorable when they are relevant to their medical needs and conditions.

And when ads are memorable, they inspire action. After seeing an ad:

  • 23% of respondents reported doing their own research.
  • 17% discussed the medical condition mentioned in the ad with their provider.
  • 10% asked their doctor for a prescription.

It’s clear that pharmaceutical ads play an important role in educating patients and influencing them to seek out more information through web searches, conversations with their doctor, or speaking with other people taking that prescription. When patients feel more informed about their treatment options, they are more likely to adhere to medications.

These findings clearly demonstrate that there is a great opportunity for pharma marketers to go beyond GRPs and take advantage of personalization and more advanced HIPAA-compliant targeting to improve the relevance of the pharmaceutical ads they serve to patients and providers. A more informed patient leads to more informed discussions with their physicians, improved trust, better adherence to treatment, and ultimately, better health outcomes.

Download The Patient Perspective: Evaluating Ad Relevance and Personalization Amid Headwinds to learn more about how patients feel about pharmaceutical ads, including the actions they’re most likely to take after seeing an ad and their preferred mediums for receiving advertising messages.

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