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comScore-Online-Pharma-Mktg-Effectiveness-June2013Online pharmaceutical marketing continues to produce results, reports comScore [download page] in a new study. The 7th annual “Online Marketing Effectiveness Benchmarks for the Pharmaceutical Industry” study details the successes of online direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing, showing some brand awareness and favorability lifts from exposure to online banner ads, but greater impact from branded website visits. Additionally, site visitation tends to provide a significant lift in Rx conversion rates.

Looking at branded website visits, the study determines that prospects who visited a site demonstrated a 14.8-point lift in aided awareness and an 8.8-point lift in unaided awareness. Prospects visiting a branded website also showed a 10.9-point lift in favorability to the brand, and an impressive 30.3-point lift in intent to discuss treatments. Among patients, favorability lift was 14 points and the boost in intent to discuss treatments was 14.3 points.

For online ad exposure, lift was highest for the intent to discuss treatments (+7.7 points for prospects; +7.3 points for patients). Interestingly, while exposure to banner ads tended to modestly raise aided and unaided awareness among prospects, it had no effect on favorability ratings either among prospects or patients.

Returning to the more impactful form of marketing – branded site visitations – the study notes that incremental conversion rates were highest for natural search-referred traffic, with paid search-referred traffic also performing well. While display media-referred traffic also demonstrated a lift in conversions, it was more modest than for the other channels.

That suggests that while display ads can aid pharma marketers in increasing brand awareness, they tend not to increase favorability ratings and do not provide the immediate effect on conversions that search referrals do. The researchers theorize that this is “likely because search ads appear to prospects that have demonstrated some level of intent due to their searching behavior.”

Other Findings:

  • The volume of drugs and medication display ads was 21% higher in April 2013 (2.85 billion) than in April 2012 (2.36 billion).
  • Analyzing 1.3 billion pharmaceutical ad impressions spanning 15+ brands, comScore found that about 1 in 3 ads were not viewable (50% of pixels in-view for at least 1 second), with a wide variance in viewability rates between publishers.
  • Comparing conversion lifts from 2011 and 2012 to campaigns from 2010 and earlier indicates that online DTC advertising is not only continuing to be positive, but is also gaining in effectiveness.

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