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The Value of Ad Networks for Pharma

Intouch Team

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With over 300 ad networks crowding the online advertising arena, many agencies and pharmaceutical advertisers have utilized them as an integral part of their media plans. The need for health content placements will remain an important part of a successful media campaign. The numerous unique and impactful opportunities that ad networks can bring a pharma advertiser are worth a closer look.

How Can Ad Networks Help You?

Currently there are a variety of ad networks available that allow clients to target high-traffic and niche sites, often at highly reduced CPMs. Examples of popular ad networks include:

  • Everyday Health
  • WebMD
  • eHealthcare Solutions
  • AdRx
  • Quality Health
  • Value Click
Many of these networks allow for demographic, geographic and even day-part targeting — a strategy that allows ads to run during particular days or times of day the target audience is most likely to be online. Ad networks with a stronger pharma focus even offer consumer and HCP site lists for more targeted campaigns.

3 Big Advantages for Your Brand

  1. Cost-effective reach and awareness within one outlet

    Ad network buys allow advertisers to expand their reach from the largest portal sites to the smallest niche sites within one buy. Ad networks typically consist of hundreds of sites that range from large general sites to smaller specific verticals. Because they own the inventory, ad networks can quickly and cost efficiently craft your campaign across the entire network or within specific sites based on your target audience and goals.

    The need for condition-specific targeting typically is the primary goal among pharma advertisers. An ad network media buy within a health vertical can enhance overall awareness because of the increased impression universes. In addition, pharma advertisers can have a presence on smaller content sites that typically would not accept advertising (e.g., Google content targeting) and sites that are too small to be measured by third-party sources but still relevant (e.g., Arthritis Today, The Body).

  2. Ability to test new, untapped lifestyle sites

    Reality is, consumers with specific conditions do not frequent only health sites. Market research has proven that there is specific lifestyle behavior, by condition, that needs to be taken into consideration when building media campaigns. Ad networks provide a cost-efficient means of testing these specific behaviors.

    In a commentary on iMedia Connection ("The Ad Network Advantage"), Julie Jeancolas, media director at Acceleration, stated, "Audiences don’t always behave the way we expect." In one example, a pharma company tested an ad network and was surprised to find more clicks and leads generated from music and entertainment sites than health content sites.

    Ad networks give advertisers the ability to test multiple sites that traditionally would not be their primary focus. Jeancolas said, "Audience behaviors are so unpredictable, it is important for media schedules to remain flexible so they can adapt quickly." Ad networks place the bulk of one’s media spend within proven sites and use a small percentage to test new areas to drive awareness. Doing so allows you to craft a targeted campaign while efficiently testing new untapped lifestyle sites. Poorly performing sites quickly can be cut while maximizing performance on top sites.

  3. Targeting capabilities

    Ad networks can target beyond specific sites and keywords. They also offer the ability to target based on geography, day part (explained earlier) and behavior. While many sites offer this ability, the value of using these targeting parameters often are enhanced through ad networks.

    For instance, advertisers could target their online presence to DMAs that have cross-promotional TV and print campaigns in-market to maximize exposure. Another benefit is retargeting. Banners can follow individuals who did not take action throughout the network. If prospective customers clicked on your banner but did not complete your registration page, an ad network can "follow" those users throughout many of the sites they visit, continuing to reinforce your message or provide a new offer. The ability to "follow the user" is extremely hard to replicate outside of the ad network environment.

    In addition to geo and behavior targeting, ad networks with health verticals can target based on condition. This enhances the overall universe of impressions and increases share of voice.

Ad networks are not the single solution. They merely are one piece of what can be a complete, successful and efficient media campaign. When aligned closely with site-negotiated buys, ad networks can help increase awareness and lead generation within targeted audiences in an extremely cost-efficient manner. It is an opportunity all pharma advertisers should explore.

To learn more about the value of ad networks for your brand, please contact your Intouch Solutions representative, or email us at


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