Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Google Responsive Ads a Deal Breaker for Pharma

In the March 21st article on MarketingLand’s SearchEngineLand, “What happens when Google pushes into branding and messaging,” columnist Pauline Jakober raises concerns around auto-created PPC (pay-per-click) ads.  While the issues are a concern for most advertisers, I believe they will gut pharma Google advertising completely.

As a quick background: Google has discontinued text-based ads in preference for “responsive ads.”  According to Google…

“Responsive ads automatically adjust their size, appearance, and format to fit just about any available ad space. For example, your responsive ad might show as a native banner ad on one site and a dynamic text ad on another, as it automatically transforms itself to fit precisely where you need it to go to meet your advertising goals.”

This is great for advertisers in that it makes the experience of creating ads more efficient and ensures that the ad will display appropriately in each placement – and on each user’s.  The promise is great, but the execution is less than stellar.  Like all new offerings, this one has bugs.  The way the ads are displaying once they are generated result in poor quality and miss the mark for advertisers.  The messages and visuals are often not correct, the program having scraped the wrong visuals and messages from the advertiser’s sites.

While this is an annoyance for advertisers it is a deal-breaker for pharma companies.  Pharma has to have advanced approval of all ads prior to placement – making auto-generated or “responsive” ads a risk for companies.  For example, if a claim on the website is scraped from one area and a visual scraped from another area, it could result in an ad that misleads the consumer. The pharma company would be at risk for fines and actions from the FDA.  Pharma has shown in the past they refuse to take this risk (e.g. Considerable lack of pharma brand actively engaged in social media).

With the pharma industry spending approximately $1.93 B on digital ads and much of that is on Google.  This change in the ad serving process is going to impact that significantly.

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