Alternative Media: Search-Engine Marketing: Click, Click ... Are You There? - Pharmaceutical Executive


Alternative Media: Search-Engine Marketing: Click, Click ... Are You There?
Pharma marketers turn to pay-per-click advertising to boost their product's reach.

Pharmaceutical Executive

For more info, see "Top 10 Tips for a Successful Pay-Per-Click Campaign."

On Target With SEM

Industry estimates project an 80-percent increase in online spending for pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing over the next two years (see "Who's Spending Online?"). Highly focused techniques, such as local targeting and demographic targeting, are gaining ground quickly because of the additional options they allow.

Local targeting is the newest buzz in search-marketing circles—and with good reason. Search engines like Google will only show the PPC advertisement to the user if their IP address lies within the advertiser's targeted area. For example, a pharmaceutical marketer testing out a new skin-cancer medication would be wise to deploy a local geographic-targeting campaign in the Rocky Mountain region. The high altitude, outdoor culture, and great number of sunny days—along with the misconception that sun intensity is lower in cold weather—combine to create a high risk for developing skin cancer. Pharmaceutical companies pitching a skin-cancer medication are likely to find a large population of potential customers in these high-altitude areas, and a sophisticated Internet marketing team might choose to focus ads exclusively in this region.

Along the same lines as local targeting, demographic targeting opens new opportunities, particularly for companies whose drugs are used by consumers with certain characteristics in common. It focuses on searchers who match specific criteria such as age, sex, and health. MSN and Google both offer forms of demographic targeting to further enhance the potential of search marketing. For example, MSN gathers demographic data when consumers sign up for a hotmail account, and Google relies on third-party demographic research.

MSN allows advertisers to place an additional premium on their bid price and position if the users conform to a demographic target—based on information received from the users of the .NET passport. Google, through its site-targeting program, lets advertisers choose Web sites on which to advertise based on demographic profiles. For example, an advertiser can go through the interface and search for men over 65; Google then provides a list of related Web sites that an advertiser can select using Google content.

With SEM, you can target eyeballs that count. Pharmaceutical marketers can finger their audience more precisely using marketing methods that only a fluid medium like the Internet can deliver. Unlike its print counterpart, marketers can modify their campaign in real time and control their investment. SEM presents a new gateway to more effectively communicate with the big, wide consumer world that scours the Internet for information each day. When customers come clicking, will they find you?

Alex Porter is vice president of SearchAdNetwork. He can be reached at


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