Hospital Advertising: Are Banner Ads Really Effective?

Perhaps banner ads have become so ubiquitous they are ineffective. They certainly aren’t very creative.

155425841Web banner ads have been around for 18 years and are the standard for web advertising.  As all other marketers, healthcare marketers have used them to create a web presence for their hospitals.  But are they effective?

Surely we can all agree they are mostly devoid of creativity.  And space limitations prohibit providing very much brand information.  And the scary thing is that some research indicates they are mostly ignored.

Digiday published some rather alarming facts about online advertising.  Here are some of them:

1.  Over 5.3 trillion display ads were served to U.S. users last year. (ComScore)

2.  That’s 1 trillion more than 2009. (ComScore)

3.  The typical Internet user is served 1,707 banner ads per month. (Comscore)

4.  Click-through rates are .1 percent. (DoubleClick)

5.  The 468 x 60 banner has a .04 percent click rate. (DoubleClick)

6.  An estimated 31 percent of ad impressions can’t be viewed by users. (Comscore)

7.  8 percent of Internet users account for 85 percent of clicks. (ComScore)

8.  Up to 50 percent of clicks on mobile banner ads are accidental. (GoldSpot Media)

9.   Mobile CPMs are 75 cents. (Kleiner Perkins)

10. You’re more likely to survive a plane crash than click a banner ad. (Solve Media)

11. 15 percent of people trust banner ads completely or somewhat, compared to 29 percent for TV ads. (eMarketer)

12. 34 percent don’t trust banner ads at all or much, compared to 26 percent for magazine ads. (eMarketer)

13. 25-34-year olds see 2,094 banner ads per month. (ComScore)

14. 445 different advertisers delivered more than a billion banner ads in 2012. (ComScore)

These are startling statistics.  I would not go so far as saying banner ads have no value for hospitals.  Simple brand awareness and brand recall are valuable.  But we should be aware of the limitations of web banner advertising and invest your hospital’s media dollars accordingly.

Healthcare Marketing: Increase Your Hospital’s Reach on Facebook with Paid Ads

Paid advertising on Facebook reaches five times more consumers than organic content.

paid social media strategyThere are two ways to reach consumers on social media- paid media and earned media. Organic (earned) media is extremely valuable for any brand.  It s a way to engage consumers, enhance brand perception and build loyalty.  But a new study from Facebook and comScore indicates that paid advertising on Facebook can dramatically increase your reach. Among the top 100 brand pages on Facebook, those using paid advertising reach an audience that is 5.3 times larger on average, the study found.

As reported by Matt Kapko for ClickZ, comScore looked at how major brands used paid media to extend their audience five times over their organic audience in one week. Some brands were able to extend the reach of a single post or other piece of content by more than 100 times with paid media, according to comScore.

Paid advertising on Facebook can be used by healthcare marketers to cast a much wider net and reach a much larger audience.  Facebook ads, or paid media, will reach “slightly lighter” Facebook users than organic content, comScore concluded. Paid messages were 30 to 60 percent more likely to reach users that have liked 100 or fewer pages. Similarly, paid messages were 17 to 32 percent more likely to reach users who hadn’t posted a status update in the past 28 days, the study confirmed.

With media planning, whether its TV or print or Facebook, traditional or non-traditional advertising it’s always desirable to reach those lightweight users. You’re reaching more lightweight users when you’re paying because you’re ensuring you get in front of those users.

Ad campaigns that are focused on reach, reaching a larger number of people, are usually more desirable.  And the study from comScore indicates that paid advertising on Facebook can significantly expand our reach.

Many healthcare marketers have spent hours trying to decide the value of social media and whether it’s worth the time and effort.   And that is still being debated.  However Facebook advertising can be an excellent way to reach users of social media.  Even the light users of social media. 

A word of caution is needed.   Using Facebook advertising effectively requires significant thought and work as well.  You are very limited in what you can say in a Facebook ad.  It’s very much about like outdoor.  Words are limited.  The message must draw attention and communicate something meaningful.  And if the Facebook ad is successful piquing interest there must be more information provided by a landing page or micro site that can provide more information and close the deal.

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.


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 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.  

Healthcare Marketing: 15 Social Media Facts for Marketers

It’s a very strange irony that socialization is happening using computers.  And face-to-face interaction is conducted on Facebook.

In a presentation given at OMMA Social during Internet Week, and reported by Adrants. ComScore Media Evangelist Eli Goodman rattled off a plethora of juicy social media facts and figures. Here are but a few for you to digest.

  • 1.2 billion people access social networks on their computers.
  • One of every five minutes spent online is on a social network.
  • 1/3 of social network users are located in Asia Pacific. 
  • Five of the most engaged markets for social networking are in Latin America.
  • Facebook has 55% global penetration. It is the third ranked site in the world for traffic.
  • One in seven minutes online are spent on Facebook.
  • Three in four of all social media time spent online is on Facebook.
  • There are only five markets in the world where Facebook isn’t the leading social network.
  • In January 2012, Facebook surpassed Orkut in number of users in Brazil.
  • Males over 55 are the fastest growing segment of social media users.
  • Women spend more time on social networks but men are catching up.
  • Digital Natives (15-24) have largest decline in email and IM usage.
  • One in four display ads are on social sites.
  • Five percent of all U.S. display ads are socially enabled.
  • Google Plus is the fastest growing social network reaching 25 million users in one month.

Consumers are socializing.  But it’s with a computer. The challenge is for healthcare marketers to discover how to join them there and engage them. It’s new ground.  It’s not an easy task.  We must continue to experiment, observe and learn. The task at times is daunting.  But the rewards could be substantial.

Healthcare Marketing: 25 MORE Interesting Facts About Social Media

Sarah Evans, author of social media and PR blog “Commentz” regularly compiles interesting stats and facts about social media. She recently shared her most relevant ones with Ad Age. Some can be useful to healthcare marketers.

1. “In early March, Google removed from its Android Market more than 60 applications carrying malicious software. Some of the malware was designed to reveal the user’s private information to a third party, replicate itself on other devices, destroy user data or even impersonate the device owner.”

2. “Groupon is on track to bring in between $3 billion and $4 billion in revenue this year alone. Facebook’s 2010 sales were reported to be only around $2 billion in its sixth year of existence.”

3. “A study of 24,000 consumers across the 16 largest countries found that those who are most connected, living on the cutting edge of social media tend to be more ‘prosocial’ than average, being more likely to do volunteer work, offer their seats in crowded places, lend possessions to others and give directions.”

4. “99 percent of Android devices are vulnerable to password theft.”

5. “Recent estimates put less than 10% of the population using Twitter, far less than other social sites.”

6. “More than 3.34 million mentions were recorded over a one-month period of people making social asks.”

7. “David Poltrack, CBS Corp., announced that, based on a new research study, ‘age and sex don’t matter when it comes to increasing TV ad effectiveness.'”

8. “An average of 40 percent of the traffic to the top 25 news sites comes from outside referrals, the study found, with Google Search and, to a lesser extent, Google News the single biggest traffic driver.”

9. “Almost one-in-four South Africans use social media as a tool to look for work, but are concerned about the potential career fallout from personal content on social networking sites.”

10. “The percentage of US parents who allow their children between ages 10 and 12 to use Facebook or MySpace more than doubled from 8 percent a year ago to 17 percent now.”

11. “33% of Facebook posting is mobile.”

12. “Fully 69% of visitors to ended up 3 places: (14.6%), (14.4%) and (14.0%).”

13. “85% of media websites now use online video to cover news.”

14. “”Social media advertising spending will increase from $2.1 billion in 2010 to $8.3 billion by 2015.”

15. “Facebook is approaching 700 million users and Google handles over 11 billion queries per month. World-wide there are over 5 billion mobile subscribers (9 out of 10 in the U.S.) and every two days there is more information created than between the dawn of civilization and 2003.”

16. “Twitter reported that the network saw more than 4,000 tweets per second (TPS) at the beginning and end of Obama’s speech [re: death of Osama Bin Laden]”

17. “65% of all social media related to the royal wedding has come from the U.S. in the past month [April]. The U.K. has been responsible for just 20%.”

18. Re: the Royal Wedding: “911,000 wedding-related tweets were tracked in the past 30 days. That’s about 30,000 per day and accounts for 71% of all social media.”

19. “According to NPR’s internal usage data covering January 1 through mid-April, users who request audio — maybe a station stream, a national newscast, or NPR Music content — view twice as many pages as those who only read the apps’ content. On average, audio streamers rack up 4.2 pageviews per visit versus 2.4 for the text-only crowd.”

20. “Twitter penetration rates in Canada are among the highest in the world, according to new data from online tracking firm comScore Inc., which suggests that nearly one in five Canadian Internet users over the age of 15 regularly visit Twitter.”

21. “Traffic from social media has highest bounce rate. […] If you’re looking for ‘hyper-engaged’ readers, those that click through five or more pages on your site, forget the guy who came from Twitter. A link from another content site is three times more likely to be engaged, and someone coming in from search, is also above average.”

22. “”Digital services accounted for an estimated $8.5 billion (28%) of the $30.4 billion in 2010 U.S. revenue generated by the 900-plus advertising and marketing-services agencies that Ad Age analyzed.”

23. “Total Facebook spent on lobbying, Q1 2010: $41,390. Total Facebook spent on lobbying, Q1 2011: $230,000”

24. “Nearly seven in 10 tablet owners reported spending at least 1 hour per day using the device, including 38% who spent over 2 hours on it. And while just 28% consider it their primary computer, 77% are spending less time on desktop or laptop PCs since they got a tablet.”

25. “According to a Network Solutions survey, the use of social media among SMBs has grown over the years, rising from 12 percent in 2009, to 24 percent in 2010 to 31 percent currently.”


Hospital Marketing: Boomers’ Use of Social Media is Booming

Baby Boomers who provide care for aging parents are heavier users of social media than boomers in general.

Baby boomers are embracing social media.  Faster than any other segment. According to Pew Internet the number of 50-plus who use social networking sites grew 88% during the past year.  Now practically half of the adults over 50 regularly use social media.   In the more narrow 50-65 age group its almost three fourths.   Healthcare marketers are learning that social media can be a very effective way of reaching and connecting with baby boomers.

But those boomers who are caregivers to aging parents are even more likely to embrace and use social media. Age Lessons partnering with Comscore found that approximately 15.5 million of the 78 million boomers are caregivers.  They are split 60/40 female to male and the level of care ranges from daily phone check-ins to live-in help.

As reported by Matt Carmichael in Ad Age these boomer caregivers use social media an average of 150 minutes a month and view 70% more pages than average internet users. They are dependent on social networking sites for information because they have so little time for other types of socializing.  Their free time is limited and they are often restricted by the demands of caring for their parent(s).  It is often the easiest and fastest way to stay connected with family and friends.  They also use social media to validate and reinforce their feelings by finding others in similar situations and communities that provide support and encouragement.

The study also found this group is more likely to use the internet to find information, conduct research and make purchases.  The top sites for boomer caregivers are Facebook with a 91% reach, Amazon with 76% and Wal-Mart at 41%.  Twitter has 21% reach.

These caregivers are important influencers and decision-makers for not only their own immediate family’s health concerns but also for their parents.  This makes this group especially important to healthcare marketers.

Marketing to niches can be very effective.  They are more easily identifiable and the message can be very focused.  The use of social media, especially Facebook – whether in the form of a page or ad, can be extremely useful tools reaching this key demographic.

Healthcare Marketing: Consider Newspaper Website Ads

Although newspapers have been pronounced mortally ill they now reach 61% of the adult population –  online.

Newspaper websites reached a total of 102.8 million unique visitors in September of 2010.  That represents 61% of the total adult population. A study conducted by comScore and reported by the Newspaper Association of America found that on an average day newspaper websites attract 20.3 million unique visitors and the average visitor makes 8.5 visits per month.

These web visitors spent more than 3.3 million minutes reading newspapers online and viewed over 4 billion page views. Newspapers readers online outpaced other web news sites.  Yahoo News reached 51% of the adult population, 22% visited CNN online and 26% visited MSNBC.

And those who visit newspaper websites tend to be more affluent too. Twenty-five percent of adult visitors to newspaper websites had annual household income of over $100,000 compared to 21% of all internet users.

So even though newspaper circulation is declining, more consumers are reading their newspaper online.  Healthcare marketers should take notice and seriously consider a web presence on local newspaper sites.  The web audience will undoubtedly continue to grow as circulation continues to decline and healthcare organizations can capture this growing audience by having a significant web presence on newspaper sites. Readers are going web and so should healthcare marketers.


Hospital Marketing: Online Display Ads Improve Search Performance

Recent studies indicate that online banner ads dramatically improve search results for both paid and organic search.

Significant money is now being spent on internet display advertising.  Many have questioned the effectiveness of such expenditures.  However some recent studies have shown that online display ads are very effective and  in ways that were unexpected.

A recent study by the Atlas Institute, “Where Can You Find Your Customer: The Intersection of Search and Display” indicate that internet visitors who are exposed to both search and display advertising convert at a 22% percent higher rate than by search alone.

Similar results were revealed in a study by Comscore, “The Silent Click: Building Brands Online”. Comscore found that internet visitors exposed to display ads spend surprisingly 55% more time on the site and viewed 51% more pages than those not exposed to online display ads.

Yes organic search is still better than display ads for search but when display ads are combined with organic search the results are significantly better than with either one alone.  This means to maximize a brand’s effectiveness on the web, both search optimization for organic search and online display ads are essential?

Just like in traditional media, multiple exposures  over different media or venues increase effectiveness. The same is true for the web. A combined, integrated, coordinated marketing approach will yield the maximum results.


Hospital Advertising: Click It…Or Not

Even though click-thru rates are down, internet display ads are still effective.

Computer mouse and hand with reflection

According to a study from Comscore and media agency Starcom, the number of people who click display ads has dropped 50% in the last two years.  Only 16% of web users actually click through. And 8% of internet users account for 85% of all clicks.

So does that mean web display advertising is not effective?  The answer is clearly “no”.  Even though click-thrus are down, the study found that display ads generate lift in site visitation and search.  Additionally, consumers exposed to a display ads were 65% more likely to visit the site than users who never saw the ad.  Even after 4 weeks, consumers exposed to display ads are 45% more likely to visit the brand’s site.

So the idea that click-thrus is the real barometer of web advertising effectiveness is erroneous.  Even if a consumer does not click through, just the exposure to the ad can lead to a website visit and engagement.  Banner ads are more effective than what click-thrus indicate.

The study indicated that online users exposed to a particular brand’s display ads are more likely to conduct searches for that brand.  So web display advertising works more like traditional advertising than previously believed.  The exposure to a brand’s ad on the web may not lead to an immediate visit to a website but the impression is made and can effect the consumer’s behavior later.

Combined with paid search, display ads can lead to consumers being twice as likely to conduct an online activity on the advertiser’s site.

Also interesting is that half of all clicks come from lower-income young adults.  Not necessarily the most desired audience for healthcare advertising.

Don’t judge the effectiveness of web banner advertising by the number of click-thrus.  That display ad can be working in the consumer’s mind long after the initial exposure.