Healthcare Marketing: Do You Know Where Your Hospital’s Digital Ads Are?

Many web ads bought through digital ad exchanges are appearing to no one and some are even appearing on sites with objectionable content.

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Those digital ad exchanges appear to be a great deal.  You provide the information concerning whom you want to reach and they’ll take your digital ad and place it across a wide range of websites that will deliver the audience you are seeking.  You provide the ad and they do all the work.

But now research is indicating that your ads are not appearing where you might think or even want your ads to appear.  Comscore  conducted research to see where digital ads are actually appearing and the results were alarming.  The research was conducted on behalf of twelve major brands including Ford and Kellogg.  The results reported by Jeff Roberts in paidcontent.org indicated as much as 31% of the 1.8 billion ad impressions purchased by these companies were not seen at all.  The ads were shown to non-humans – bots or spiders that induce a web page to display an ad.

In addition, 72% of all their ad campaigns resulted in brands having their ads placed next to questionable content.  Sites dedicated to pornography, piracy or malware.

This is not to say all digital ad exchanges are bad.  It’s just to point out there are risks involved in placing digital ads across multiple sites with ad exchanges.  Unlike radio, TV or print advertising, with digital advertising it’s hard to know exactly where your online ad appears.

For healthcare marketers, it’s safer to stay with purchasing ads on high-traffic local sites, like the local newspaper or television websites.   But even these local media companies are now partnering with ad exchanges to offer behavior-based buys across a wide range of websites.  So we must be careful and understand as much as possible about where our ads will actually appear.

It’s all part of the development and evolution of digital advertising.  There’s a lot of big numbers thrown out, even by reputable local digital sites.  But sometimes it’s difficult to have great confidence in some of those numbers and in the way they are presented by ad reps.   As the digital advertising industry develops, hopefully more precise and reliable results will be provided which will increase our level of confidence in online advertising.  In the meantime, we must be as careful, and as thoughtful as possible, in evaluating digital advertising options to make sure our ads are actually being seen by human beings and within a context that’s appropriate and suitable for our healthcare messages.  

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