Is that drug ad for me? People pay more attention to pharma DTC for familiar conditions, study finds
Drug ads on TV are always telling people to “ask your doctor.” But guess what? Almost one in five actually do bring up a drug they’ve seen in advertising during a medical visit while one in 10 say they even ask directly for the prescription.
That’s according to a new DeepIntent study fielded as a follow-up to an initial deep dive into perceptions around pharma direct-to-consumer marketing in March. Back then researchers at the digital healthcare marketing platform found, not surprisingly, people were seeing more DTC advertising thanks to increases in digital consumption during the pandemic.
A lot more in fact. Pharma and healthcare companies’ digital ad spending jumped to more than $9.5 billion in 2020, eMarketer reports, and predicts another big jump by the end of this year to $11.3 billion, an increase of 18%.
Yet at the same time, people also reported feeling less informed than ever. While 75% agreed that being informed about pharma treatment options could save lives, more than 30% said they didn’t know enough information before they talked to their doctors.
One of the goals of DeepIntent’s second study was to figure out what people are finding online when they look up a drug and how pharma companies can better connect the dots between consumers and physicians.
The number one appeal of a drug ad was relevance. More than half (51%) of the more than 1,200 consumers surveyed paid more attention to drug ads that discuss a health condition they have, and another 33% pay attention to ads that talk about a loved one’s condition. A smaller 15% pointed to good content as a reason they paid attention to the ad.
“Consistent with our first research, when people see an ad that’s relevant to their condition, they will go online and do more research about the drug,” Marcella Milliet Sciorra, DeepIntent’s senior VP of marketing said, adding going online — and importantly, finding the right content, will help people “have better educated discussions with their doctor.”
The study also took a pharma industry temperature check asking if the pandemic influenced opinions about it after the rapid Covid-19 vaccine development. An even split said they had a higher (19%) or lower (20%) opinion of pharma, while 47% said their opinion didn’t change.
That’s not-so-great news for pharma companies’ reputations as they push to build on public health goodwill after the pandemic.
“COVID became such a political issue, it clouded a lot of the achievements of the pharmaceutical industry. I’m not sure that’s the pharmaceutical industry’s fault, but just the reality we live in today,” Sciorra said.