Sensitive Conditions Call For Sensitive Advertising

Updated on June 8, 2023

Advertising treatment options for sensitive indications requires marketers to communicate to patients with empathy, privacy and consideration. There are a variety of tactics marketers can implement to ensure the well-being of patients and create a dialogue between pharmaceutical companies and those affected by sensitive conditions. In addition to sensitive conditions, rare disease, which affects less than 200,000 individuals within the U.S., also necessitate a thoughtful approach to digital advertising – including ensuring consent, privacy and relevant educational content. 

Obtaining consent to communicate and distribute content is paramount to reaching patients with sensitive conditions and/or rare disease. From an advertising perspective, custom video creative can allow for a “pre-qualifier” question to ensure that those engaging with the ad have opted in to learn more. In these types of ad executions, the creative will not display content unless consumers roll over the ad units that displays a leading question, such as “Do you or a family member have…” with a sensitive condition inserted in the question. Upon engagement with the question, the patient can be taken to an in-unit resource center that includes information about the disease state and treatment options. 

Once the patient has been qualified by engaging in ad unit content or visiting the website to learn more, they should be able to easily access relevant information. There are two advertising creative tactics frequently used by pharmaceutical companies to distribute this information. The first is unbranded campaigns, which focus on disease state awareness and growing a pool of patients who may be receptive to the branded pharmaceutical product. The second is branded campaigns, which focus on connecting patients to treatments that may benefit the patient. 

Unbranded initiatives can run 1-2 years prior to FDA product approval and run alongside branded initiatives after initial launch. These efforts are essential in connecting patients to a larger community and aim to remove stigma from sensitive conditions or encourage conversation around rare disease. There are a multitude of educational resources for these patients, such as Doctor Discussion Guides, study/trial results, safety information, and patient testimonials, that can be featured within the ad experience. It is meaningful for patients to share similar stories, namely for rare disease patients, as these illnesses can be isolating. Doctor Discussion Guides are a great way to start a conversation about symptoms or treatment options. These are particularly helpful and empowering for sensitive conditions, which many patients may feel embarrassed about starting the conversation around. 

Targeting individuals with industry standard predictive modeling and privacy compliant data partners can help increase the likelihood that this creative is reaching the right patients.  Data providers allow for targeting of specific conditions, with an approach that increases the impression volume in each segment to ensure privacy of those that may have a propensity towards a specific condition. Diluting the audience base ensures patient privacy and allows for advertisers to scale for conditions that may impact a relatively small number of consumers. Conversely, patients with sensitive conditions may account for a larger portion of the overall known market, so this can prove beneficial in reaching more prospective patients. In tandem with targeting and measurement partners, there are metrics available to help score audience quality and ensure that the appropriate patients are being reached. 

It is essential that both sensitive and rare disease advertising are approached in a patient-centric manner. There are creative and targeting considerations that are imperative to consider when communicating with these patients and/or their caregivers through advertising. Delivering educational resources to patients directly within the digital ad experience is one tactic that can help bring patients and providers together. Building sense of community, especially among those suffering from a rare disease or sensitive condition, is critical to helping patients and caregivers feel less alone – the right approach to digital advertising can help foster meaningful interactions and connect patients to the appropriate treatments. 

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Lauren Ohlsson

Lauren Ohlsson is a Pharmaceutical Industry Solutions Lead for