Facebook tells drug marketers about clinical trial strategy
Clinical Trial Targeting
Last Thursday, September 7, Facebook brought drug marketers together for a breakfast that promoted its “clinical trials strategy.” As Facebook was approaching an industry that is accelerating its digital advertising expenditures, the social media giant was also attempting to educate its marketers on how to target consumers for clinical trials.
According to a report from Christina Farr of CNBC, “Facebook’s ad sales team is hitting up the drug industry.” Its New York-based health unit presented an invitation-only breakfast for pharmaceutical marketers to learn about targeting users.
Farr’s report went on to say that Facebook “is already widely used by clinical trial recruiters, and it’s a massive revenue opportunity for the company.” According to the research firm, eMarketer, pharma and health care marketers are expected to spend about $3.1 billion on digital advertising by 2020. Last year the figure was approximately $1.9 billion.
An anonymous attendee at the event related that Facebook presenters explained how drug marketers could and could not target users. According to Facebook’s health team, users cannot be targeted based on health conditions such as insomnia. This kind of targeting is not limited to clinical trials.
As stated in Farr’s report, “Marketers can target people by demographics and their expressed interests, or likes. Millions of health groups have organically popped up on Facebook for people with a wide variety of health conditions, though marketers can’t use that data in their outreach.”
Drug companies have expressed concerns that patients might talk about sensitive information such as medical side effects and adverse events on Facebook. Thus, some of the companies have been hesitant to use Facebook as a recruiting tool, because the drug companies must monitor and report these comments.
Facebook has held other events for drug marketers. In May CNBC reported that Facebook was hosting a summit the following month to promote its platform as an alternative to traditional television and print media ads.
Facebook, an American for-profit corporation and online social media and social networking service based in Menlo Park, California, launched its website in 2004. While its founders had initially limited the website’s membership to Harvard students, it grew to include students from other higher education institutions and then high school students as well. Since 2006, anyone who claims to be at least 13 years old can become a registered user of Facebook. The company held its initial public offering (IPO) in February 2012 and began selling stock to the public three months later, reaching an original peak market capitalization of $104 billion.
On July 13, 2015, Facebook became the fastest company in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to reach a market cap of $250 billion. As of April 2016, Facebook was the most popular social networking site in the world, based on the number of active user accounts. Facebook has more than 2 billion monthly active users as of June 2017. It seems to be a natural venue for making people aware of clinical trials.