Survey: online drug ads helpful in '10

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Online drug ads are significantly more helpful this year, particularly with respect to side effect and safety information, according to an survey of its users.

The survey found that 58% of respondents value side effects and safety information contained in an ad, up from 28% in 2009. Additionally, 51% said ads with information about a specific condition or disease are helpful (up from 29% in 2009), and 47% of respondents said information about how to cope with a condition or disease is helpful, compared with 20% in 2009, according to the survey.

Elements of a drug ad found to be most helpful, according to the survey, were printable health tips (40%), free trial offers (38%) and testimonials about people experiencing similar symptoms (29%). In 2009, just 18% of respondents said ads with free trial offers were helpful, the survey noted.

Responding to a question about which tones or formats of online healthcare ads are the most attention-grabbing, participants ranked humorous ads at the top (45%), followed by “visually appealing ads with a lot of color and nice pictures” at 44%. Ads with polls, quizzes and games were less attention-grabbing (28%), as were ads with social elements, such as a Facebook share component (14%), the survey found.

“Health users are increasingly looking to relevant advertisements as decision-making tools, when those ad messages are properly connected to the consumer's need or goal,” said Evan Minskoff, VP, marketing, at the About Group, in a statement on the survey.

Using a search engine to research a new diagnosis or medical condition increased from 47% last year to 65% in 2010, the survey said.

Respondents were gathered through an invitational pop-up on, and the survey was also sent to's user panel. Sample size was 1,321 respondents in 2010, and 1,870 in 2009, according to the survey's methodology.
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