Should Clinical Trials Advertise on Podcasts?

advertise on podcasts

Podcast advertising represents an opportunity for clinical trials to connect with a dedicated and engaged listener base.

Audio content is seeing a resurgence in popularity in the form of podcasts, a medium that is both widespread and intimate. As this industry has grown, so have opportunities for sponsors and CROs to reach potential patients through personalized clinical trial ads.

Some marketers are hesitant to venture into podcast advertising because they’re not sure how their content will perform. However, studies on listener engagement have been promising for those looking to advertise on podcasts: most people make it through 90 percent of a given podcast episode, including the ads. Research conducted by podcast ad network Midroll found that 67 percent of listeners could name a product or service featured on a podcast to which they’d listened. Further, 61 percent of respondents had purchased one or more of these products or services.

Why is this the case? Podcast content tends to be more personalized and intimate than many other types of media. Listeners often feel connected to podcast hosts, and thus are inclined to try the products or services they feature in their ads. What’s more, because podcasting — and podcast advertising in particular — is less established than other forms of media, sponsors and CROs still have the opportunity to get in ahead of their competition.

The Growing Role of Podcasts in Digital Advertising

According to estimates from the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PwC, marketers put $479 million toward podcast ads in 2018, up 34 percent since 2017. This investment seems to be well worth it, as total podcast ad revenue is expected to surpass $1 billion by 2021.

Podcasts are unique in that they offer the chance to develop both host-endorsed and non-endorsed ads. Given the nature of clinical trials, non-endorsed ads will likely be more effective unless a host has a personal connection with a given condition or study. These ad segments are recorded in advance and inserted into a podcast episode at a predetermined spot. They can generally be served on several different podcasts, and can be precisely scheduled and targeted.

Some pharma companies and other healthcare leaders have even developed their own podcasts as a way to build credibility and reach new audiences. For instance, Roche’s Genentech has a podcast called “Two Scientists Walk into a Bar” in which the host, Jane Grogan, discusses the latest scientific research with the help of guest experts. Another popular pharma podcast is hosted by Joe Kim for Eli Lilly. The show, called “Elixir Factor,” is similarly focused on healthcare research and development.

And while conversions from podcast advertising and in-house podcasts may be indirect and multi-faceted, podcasts are a great way to build connections with potential patients. Using techniques like promo codes, custom links, dedicated landing pages, and visitor surveys enables sponsors and CROs to keep track of their website traffic and direct patients toward enrollment.

SEO, PPC, and Social Advertising Remain Strong

While there will always be room for innovative new approaches like podcast advertising, there are several approaches to digital advertising that remain industry standards — and with good reason. These include SEO-optimized websites, search ads, and social media ads.

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising allows sponsors and CROs to target potential patients based on their search terms. For instance, users looking up “treatment for glaucoma” might encounter an ad for a local glaucoma trial at the top of their search results. Alternatively, social media allows marketers to reach patients who fit specific criteria related to their age, geographic region, or demographics even if these patients are not actively looking for treatment. Facebook ads in particular can be served to users who fit a trial’s profile or those who belong to a support group for a particular condition.

Sponsors and CROs may need to conduct some background research to determine which strategies will work best for their particular audiences. For instance, when recruiting for a depression clinical trial, marketers may want to focus on podcasts that deal with human psychology or Facebook support groups for people with mental health concerns. Ultimately, a combination of innovative digital marketing strategies and more tried-and-true methods is likely to produce the best results and help clinical trials reach their recruitment goals.

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