A recent study by the online research company comScore offered fresh data on the impact of various forms of digital marketing. What we’re beginning to see is a very interesting and dramatic comparison between the benefit and efficacy of banner ads versus branded websites for pharma and the role that they play in a multi-channel marketing strategy.
Not surprisingly, banner ads have an effect on unaided awareness. So if you’re browsing the web and you come across a banner ad with compelling content and optimal placement, it’s likely you will experience a modest but still statistically significant increase in awareness of a particular product, or in our case, a prescription drug.
What is interesting though is that the data indicates that banner ads don’t actually translate into product interest or an intent to discuss with your physician. According to this study, banner ads are good for general brand awareness but by themselves do not lead to any new scripts, which if you are a brand manager, is what you need marketing to do for your brand.
In contrast, branded websites are very effective at customer conversion. A good branded website will get viewers to actually talk to their doctor. According to comScore, if a patient goes to a branded website, they are 30.3% more likely to show an intent to discuss the disease with their physician.
For patients who educate themselves on their disease, learn about various forms of therapy and then come in to their doctor’s appointment with a brand preference, all things being equal, that physician will likely prescribe that product if in fact the patient has that disease and the product is safe. And that’s all that marketers ask.
The Power of Content
This study demonstrates the power of search and the influence of good content.
If you’re a patient on a mission to find answers, chances are your search will lead you to a branded website. And if that website is well-designed and provides relevant and not overly-promotional content, it is likely to provide you with the answers you need.
This content-based user experience differs from that of a promotional advertisement like a banner ad. When consumers and patients have a self-described need or have received a diagnosis from a physician, they want to actually be able to get in and educate themselves.
In a multi-channel marketing world, banner ads still play a role in building general awareness, but they should be used to direct searchers to a branded website. By the time patients get to a branded website, they are at that point in their search where they want verifiable information that they know is regulated and can be trusted.