Pharma content marketing and regulatory compliance
Pharmaceutical Native Advertising & Content Marketing

The pharmaceutical industry is highly regulated, and pharmaceutical advertising and marketing is no exception. Therefore, pharmaceutical marketers have taken a cautious approach to all forms of digital advertising.

The FDA requires that mentioning a drug product along with any claims within a Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) advertisement must include "All the risks of using the drug." These disclosures are referred to as "Important Safety Information" or ISI for short. You may recognize these disclosures as scrolling text on a white background. Here’s an example depicting a typical online pharma banner with the ISI on the right side under “INDICATION”, or the condition/disease the drug is approved to treat.

Pharma branded ad ISI sample

Typical example of branded pharma advertising banner with scrolling ISI.

On radio or TV, the ISI is referred to as the "major statement," which is made up of the advertised drug's most important health risks. The FDA also requires that the major statement be presented in a clear, conspicuous and neutral manner. The risks are similar to the risks required for "fair balance" in print ads.

While typical banner and display ads have suffered fatigue and continued declines in engagement rates, in-content native ads are creating record engagement. As a result of their integration with editorial, native ads can see as much as 30X the clicks of a display banner and often for significantly less money.

By combining content style native ads placed contextually within relevant therapeutic content and which drive traffic to strategically developed editorial content, these three distinct characteristics can complement each other to provide a deeper, more valuable and cohesive experience for users.

In addition, the method of targeting a native ad contextually within relevant content alleviates many privacy, HIPAA, FDA and other regulatory guidelines because users have not been tracked or targeted. Regular display advertising is most often incapable of fusing advertising and editorial the way native does so well. Native’s content style format and in-content placements mixed with editorial content lend credibility and act as a gateway to a relatable brand or patient story. As a result, audiences are far more likely to engage in a more meaningful way.

The FDA has not provided clear guidance on native advertising. Consequently, the wisest course of action is to apply existing advertising guidelines to any native versions. Ensure that all communications—both the ad and subsequent editorial—are clear and do not contain any misleading information, and that ads are marked as such. As such the FDA publishes 3 distinct ad models that it recognizes:

Examples of the three FDA ad models

Translation to Native

Display advertising may do an adequate job delivering a “Product Claim Ad”. Moreover, if the goal is to create brand awareness, standard display may work well enough. “Reminder ads” and “Help-Seeking Ads” (as they’re described above) do not require ISI information and have not yet been widely adopted on the display side but their native counterparts already have strong indications of being effective.

The Journey of Discovery

Moving prospects from awareness to action is achieved only by gaining the patient’s acceptance. This requires the personal realization that seeking out solutions and treating their condition is a positive step toward a healthier, happier, less burdened life. Seventy percent of individuals want to learn about products via content vehicles rather than through traditional advertising. This is precisely why Tap Native ad units are integrated above, within, or below editorial content like this example:

content marketing tap native ad samples

These are generic examples of native “Reminder Ads” and “Help-Seeking Ads”. Notice that none of the 3 ads above mention a brand. Instead, they call out conditions. Ideally, pharmaceutical native ads should kick off a journey to ultimately discovering a brand through clearly labeled ads, pages, sites and information. A patient in the “avoidance stage” of their condition can view a native ad in a related health article (Ex: a psoriasis ad in a psoriasis article) which helps them to realize that people just like themselves have overcome the burdens associated with the disease or condition.

Health Content Marketing is Hot!

More than 15 percent of healthcare marketers believe content marketing will make the largest commercial impact this year.

Digital Marketing Trends 2018

From the Managing Digital Marketing in 2019 survey by SmartInsights

Contextually placed in-content native ads can drive users to any site in order to learn how others have overcome limitations by discovering how they did it. Also, in learning about the condition and seeing how it’s affected someone else’s life, the patient begins moving out of avoidance and into the “assessment stage”. The patient is now more accepting of tools and information that educate them about the different treatment options and how to talk with a doctor. This is the typical process that moves patients from avoidance to discovery to awareness, assessment, acknowledgement, and finally, to action.

Measuring Success

Pharmaceutical brands don’t sell products on their websites. Rx designated products require a prescription from a licensed healthcare professional. And while several online services now deliver medications to a patient’s home, an old-fashioned visit to the pharmacy is still the primary acquisition method. This means there is no direct connection between the native ads or any media that directs traffic back to informational or brand websites that occur because of those advertising or marketing efforts.

pharmacy visits are the primary acquisition method for pharmaceutical brands
Online specialty pharmacies offer services to deliver some medications to a patient's home, however an old-fashioned trip to the pharmacy is still the primary way folks acquire their Rx medications.

We do, however, have strong indicators of success. Such indicators include metrics that demonstrate how users are engaging with the site, and suggest a user’s inclination to speak with a doctor about getting diagnosed, seeking treatment options, and even the therapies they’ve learned about during their journey or discovery. Some of the interactions are better indications that a user is close to seeking a prescription than others. With our conversion tracking pixels, you can measure all-important KPIs. For example, is your savings card download and subsequent redemption rates more or less effective at delivering ROI than you downloadable PDF of your doctor discussion guide? All these interactions and their importance to the brand (often determined by proximity to getting on prescription) can be driven and optimized through native advertising and content marketing.

We recommend that all pharma brands consider testing contextually placed native ads in order to experience the results firsthand. Marketers that take early advantage of this powerful advertising opportunity will see considerable results such as reaching more users in the “avoidance” and “assessment” stage”, seeing boosts in brand affinity, response rates and prescription seeking intent. Ultimately, native ad formats offer marketers a less intrusive and more effective advertising medium that provide real value for readers. As more pharma brands develop and adopt native advertising and content marketing strategies, brands that do not adapt may see less awareness, fewer visits to their sites, less social buzz, and ultimately, a decreasing market share.

Building native ads is demonstrably faster and easier than creating display banners. Native ads typically consist of 4 elements, an image (1000x600), a headline (60 characters), a source or brand (30 characters), and a landing page URL. Tap Native advertisers can typically create a native ad in about 90 seconds. For best results, create many versions of your ad so they can be A/B tested to learn which versions drive the most engagement. Use our analytics and conversion tracking tools to measure user actions downstream and let the data guide you. Execution can easily be done through your current advertising agency partners or handled in house by using our self-serve interface. As always, we’re happy to guide you.

Become a Tap Native advertiser or publisher.

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Tap Native ad units are integrated within the content of popular health destination sites. You can see in the example below that Tap Native ad units focus on health and provide the source of the content:

Health care marketing and PR
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