GroupM: Search Good For What Ails Pharma Brands

Pharmaceutical companies spent billions in advertising last year, but search only accounted for 2.6%. New research from GroupM shows that 42% of consumers filling new prescriptions use paid search when making a decision related to the purchase.

GroupM set out to quantify the relationship between a consumer’s search behavior and new prescription volume. Using benchmark data, GroupM Search developed a model to determine the relationship between paid-search clicks for a drug and a new prescription being filled.

Search plays a role in new prescription fulfillment. In most cases, search makes up less than 3% annually of a brand’s total advertising budget, but the research attributes 7% of all new prescriptions directly to search. This means paid search led to the fulfillment of more than 13,000 new scripts fulfilled each month. The research also found that a new prescription is generated for every 1.3 clicks on a paid-search ad in the given drug category.

Brands have previously placed limitations on search buying due to high CPCs, averaging $2.51 for keywords in the prescription drug category in January 2012, according to the study.

Until now, the pharmaceutical industry largely relied on on-site user conversions as a proxy for potential prescriptions filled, notes the agency. Medication requiring daily use was likely to convert to a prescription with as little as one paid-search click. By contrast, a drug being used by a patient annually required more than 35 clicks to convert from one new prescription fulfilled.

GroupM Search used the standard site-side conversion actions of an active pharmaceutical client to evaulate the dynamic between that metric and a new prescription filled. In this scenario, it was found that one could predict how many of the measured site-side actions by a patient it would take to lead to a prescription being fulfilled. This gives brands a tighter link between the channel activity and new scripts and helps make informed decisions on their investment in search marketing.

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