Online ads-where to go?

 decisionPOST SUMMARY: The old theory was to place ads for prescription drugs on health sites like WebMD but today that alone doesn’t make much sense.

When it comes to online you have two choices: (1) Take the message to your audience where THEY are or (2) Place the ads on sites you hope your audience will come to when researching health information.  It has been my experience that option one is a better choice.


When it comes to online ads you need to think like your target audience and ask;

1ne: Where do they go everyday online?

2wo: How often do they go to health sites like WebMD or Everyday Health?

[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”@richmeyer” suffix=””]Most people have a bookmark of sites they go every morning[/inlinetweet] yet very few people are going to visit a health site everyday and usually only visit to research health problems, treatments or topics in the news.   It may be more beneficial, therefore, to place ads on sites that your audience frequents regularly. However, your ads have to be relevant to that audience where they are at that time and you should develop a portfolio of ads for each site and optimize them to improve awareness.

In order to test my thesis, I reviewed a media plan for a client who was marketing an Rx drug for women.  We placed ads on health sites and general women’s sites and I set up Google analytics to measure clicks in relation to bounce rate, pages viewed and time on site.  The ads that were served to general women’s sites did far better than health sites even when we sponsored some content on women’s health.


The other test we conducted was a rich media ad that was a mini-site contained within the banner. Rolling-over the banner expanded the ad and took the message directly to women where they were online and allowed them to print a coupon directly from that banner.  Right now we know that a lot were downloaded but we are waiting on the final number of Rx’s as there is a lag time to schedule physician visits and fill Rx’s.

Online advertising is not just developing a banner or box and sticking it online.  You need to test ads beforehand and have your agency continually optimize them.  The CPM for ads on general sites vs. sites like WebMD could be better and provide a better ROI.