Google recently unveiled its latest alternative media advertising tool, the gadget ad—a hybrid micro-Web site and rich media ad.
Though it looks like a traditional big-box display ad, the unit allows a viewer to control elements of the ad much like a miniature Web site. The user can click drop-down menus for more information and can search through far more content than is available through search or display ads.
The ads run on Google content network sites and do not appear on search engine result pages; however, they can be hosted on any Web site. The pay structure is based on the cost-per-click or cost-per-impression models.
One gadget ad, for Intel, features a Flash game in which the user controls a laptop that juggles icons representing music, e-mail, and games to reflect the chip's ability to multitask. Another ad runs a full-length video for Pepsi.
The search engine giant showed its marketing tools at an industry event last week and hammered home the fact that only about 5 percent of pharma advertising spend is Web related, even though 87 percent of doctors use the Web.
Google execs spoke bluntly about pharma's ignorance of e-marketing strategies. "The Internet is the number-one source for information, yet it is the least leveraged," explained Khee Lee, vertical market manager of health at Google. "The Web is no longer new media, it's today's media—but the pharma industry is trapped in 1997, with its 60-second television spot."
Lee cited numerous studies by Manhattan Research and Nielsen/NetRatings, detailing how 66 percent of Internet users first turn to search engines (not necessarily Google) when looking for health information, so search engine marketing should be an obvious marketing choice. Of the 5 percent of ad spend pharma does allot to Web, Lee said that only about 40 percent goes to search marketing, the rest is split between display ads and video marketing.
Google noted that pharma companies that engage heavily in Web advertising are tight-lipped about their tactics, hoping to control the ad medium. While the company didn't name names, it made it obvious that if you search for a particular disease state, certain names appear at the top of the paid search, while other major players are nowhere to be found. For example, a search of the word asthma found AstraZeneca topping the paid list with a branded site for Symbicort.