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Online Health Info Starts with Search

Is TV or search the better pharma ad buy?

September 13, 2007

More than three-quarters of Internet users in the United States go online for health information, according to Burst Media.

Of this audience, more than one-third researched health topics online before visiting a medical professional. After a medical appointment, 43.5% of respondents went online to learn more.

"As drug makers launch products targeted to specific conditions—oncology, diabetes, depression and high cholesterol, to name a few—the targeting offered by the Internet means more dollars should go to search marketing," said Lisa Phillips, a senior analyst at eMarketer.

More than four in 10 respondents to the Burst Media survey said the Internet was the primary source of information used to help keep their households healthy.

Primary Health Information Resource Used by US Adult Internet Users, August 2007 (% of respondents)

Commercial health care Websites and condition-specific sites, chats and forums were the most popular health care information resources for 35.1% and 33.8% of respondents, respectively. Health care providers' sites (26.4%), government sites (23.5%) and pharmaceutical companies' sites (16.5%) trailed behind.

Nearly one-quarter of respondents said they had clicked on a prescription drug or over-the-counter remedy advertisement on the Internet.

For the newly diagnosed, a search engine is the easiest solution. Two-thirds of interviewees told the Pew Internet and American Life Project that they turned to a search engine for health information, compared with just 27% who already had a destination in mind.

Method Used by US Internet Users to Begin an Online Health Information Search, August 2006 (% of respondents)

Still, some health care marketers may be waiting to embrace search and other online marketing, according to a survey of Med Ad News readers conducted by Guideline. Although 31% of respondents thought digital channels were key for 2007, 71% said they would be much more important in 2010.

Importance* of Select Marketing Channels to Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) Advertising According to US Pharmaceutical Marketers, 2007 & 2010 (% of respondents)

Learn why TV dominates in drug marketing. Please read eMarketer's Pharmaceutical Marketing Online: Stuck in Web 1.5 report.

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