Media Post

Healthcare Marketing: Are Your Internet Ads Ignored?

Research shows Americans ignore internet ads more than advertising in any other medium.

The old adage that “half of my advertising budget is wasted, now if I only knew which half” appears to have a lot of merit. Especially with internet ads.  Research produced by Adweek/Harris Poll from an online survey conducted by Harris Interactive indicates that:

  • 63% of Americans ignore or disregard internet ads.
  • 43% say they don’t pay attention to banner ads.
  • 20% ignore search ads.  

For hospital marketers, those are significant numbers.

Wayne Friedman reported the findings in MediaPostNews.  Other media compared to the internet faired much better.  Only 14% ignore television ads, 7% for radio and 6% for newspaper.  Probably not surprising, 91% of consumers ignore some of the ads they see.

Even out of the largest users of the internet, adults 18-34, 40% of them state they ignore internet banner ads.  And of those consumers who have some college education or a college degree, 46% ignore banner ads compared to just 40% of those with a high school diploma or less. There was practically no difference between men and women.

So for healthcare marketers maybe we shouldn’t rush out and totally embrace internet advertising and shift significant amounts of money away from traditional media.  Some voices are constantly telling us that our budgets are out of whack because the percentage we spend on internet advertising is typically far below the percentage of our audience who are regularly on the internet.

Sure, we should have an internet presence and take advantage of opportunities of reaching and engaging our target audience.  But the number of people using the web is not the only factor to consider.  Research is indicating that it’s harder to break through the clutter and gain traction with internet advertising than with traditional mediums. 

Internet advertising is viable and should be in the media mix but it’s certainly not time to abandon traditional mediums for the web.   Internet advertising and social media are the new kids on the block.   But the old standbys aren’t dead yet.  In fact, this research indicates less of our advertising on traditional mediums is not as wasted as much as advertising on the internet.  But of course for each medium, we are still stuck with the question: which part is wasted and which is effective?


Hospital Marketing: An Ad is an Ad is an Ad, Right?

Placement of web ads greatly influences effectiveness.

Ads that appear on the first screen of a user’s browser window above the fold have been found to be most effective.  Research by Casale Media has shown that ads above-the fold can be seven times more effective at generating click-through than ads below the fold.

Casale analyzed nearly 2 billion ad impressions and found that users were three to four times more likely to act on an ad if it is the first or second ad they see during their session.   As the consumer continues to browse, ad effectiveness continues to diminish.

As reported in Media Post, repetition is proven to increase effectiveness. Ads seen five times or more by a consumer were 12 to 14 times more effective than ads seen less than five times.

The research also indicated that ads appearing on cluttered sites lose effectiveness.  Ads surrounded by photo galleries or clusters of other ads were much less effective.  And ads may not be seen at all when displayed on a web site that uses auto-refresh mechanisms to inflate impressions.

As hospital marketers we have long known the importance of ad placement.  We are careful which radio stations to buy and what time periods.  We buy the most watched or most cost effective television programming.  We buy specific placement in magazines. We ride outdoor locations to choose the very best addresses. And we often complain about the placement of our ads in the newspaper.

But many times in placing our hospital’s adverting on websites we have been much less particular.   That is partially because we have not known much about ad placement and the ad effectiveness on the web.   We have had our intuitions but research like the kind conducted by Casale is beginning to give us the reliable information we’ve needed.  And what we are finding is ad placement on the web is just as critical for effectiveness as every other medium.

So as hospital marketers increasingly utilize web advertising it’s important to know where the ad will be seen and in what type of environment.  There are many websites with lots of traffic but designed in such a way that makes the ads placed on the site much less effective than sites with less traffic.

And it’s still true that frequency matters.  Repetition and frequency is just as important on the internet as it is in other mediums.  It’s only effective if we commit enough to make sure it is seen and seen often.