Dear pharma: Most online ads are fraudulent

If your company is spending money on online advertising, you are almost certainly being robbed.Google reported that 56% of online display ads that are paid for by advertisers are never seen by a live human being. (And remember, Google is one of the world’s largest sellers of online display ads.) Recently The New York Times ran a story claiming that 57% of online video ads are never seen. CNET reported on a study by research firm Incapsula that found only 38% of traffic on the web is human.  Kraft announced that it was rejecting 75-85% of the online ad impressions it was being offered because they were “fraudulent , unsafe, non-viewable or unknown.”

The online ad industry has a make that a MAJOR problem.  BOTS are giving the industry nightmare while most online ads perform miserably.  Does this mean that pharma needs to stop online ads?  No.  Quite the contrary, pharma needs better creative and for God’s sake they need to stay away from programmatic advertising.

Let’s also differentiate pharma online ads.  Nobody sees an online ad for a new diabetes medication and runs to their doctor to ask for it. However, you might see an ad for a new Starbuck’s coffee drink and make a mental note to ask for it the next time you’re at Starbucks. What this all means is that pharma marketers need to really concentrate on their websites through optimization and consumer friendly copy that talks to patients as people not a target market.