Online ads becoming less effective

UnknownKEY TAKEAWAY: According the Columbia Journalism Review some 47 percent of US internet users now utilize ad blocking software. Consumers are, the study says, annoyed with “advertising and the interruption it causes to their reading experience.” Focus group participants seemed to particularly hate ads that surfaced based on browsing history. As one woman put it, “Online ads are obtrusive, obnoxious, annoying.”

Consumers are watching less TV and multitasking during commercials.  Now internet users are fed up with online ads that get in the way of content.  Yet these trends represent a tremendous opportunity for biopharma marketers if they understand the frustration of online health seekers.


Biopharma companies have a unique resource at their disposal; key thought leaders.  Among the most read content on, when I launched it, was content written by one of our thought leaders and licensed content from institutions like Harvard Medical School.

If you think like your target audience you will most likely start your search for health information on Google.  However, you can quickly become overwhelmed at the number of sources and depth of information.  While the number one health website is WebMD my research has shown that health seekers very rarely rely on one site to make key treatment choices.  It’s therefore essential that biopharma websites provide excellent content that keeps readers on the site as well as keeps them coming back.

Young woman using computer in kitchen
Young woman using computer in kitchen

If biopharma marketers develop a content plan that focuses on delivering content that their audience cares about users will keep coming back and thus there will be enhanced brand equity. However, this content can not be a hard sales message, rather it has to be content that your audience cares about and needs to help manage their health problem.  For example, in my research with MS patients we heard that there was an unmet need to help MS patients manage relationships.  An ongoing series of content about MS and relationships could find a great audience.


Online and TV ads are increasingly irrelevant to today’s busy consumers.  Think beyond the “sales message” and become the experts within the health category in which you compete to engage your audience and keep your brand in the forefront of treatment choices.  Time to think beyond selling…