While Ideas 1 & 2 from Kathleen Malaspina and Tom Scearce, co-authored White Paper: How to increase demand for medical devices in today’s changing and challenging market are straightforward and fairly easy to execute, implementing Idea 3 involves more “out-of-the-box” type thinking for most medical device marketers…
Idea 3 is Find out where your product is being discussed, and advertise there in a low-risk way.
There are actually many ways to do this, and we’ll elaborate upon that in a bit, but for now, let’s focus on the strategy Malaspina and Scearce say to do.
They say, “Start by testing a Google AdSense campaign.”
This is actually a very innovative and smart strategy, but one that requires peeling back the layers to really understand how to maximize it.
Malaspina and Scearce give a basic overview of what they mean when they say “test a Google AdSense campaign.” But what does that really mean for you and your medical device company?
First, the basics.
What exactly is Google AdSense?
Google AdSense is a service offered by Google where website owners (called “publishers”) select ads that appear on different pages of their website.
Ads can be video ads, graphic ads or text ads. These ads are (supposed to be) relevant to the content on the web page that they appear.
When someone clicks on that ad, the “publisher” gets paid.
Many look at AdSense campaigns as a passive revenue stream for the website or blog owner, but this of course depends on the amount of traffic to the website or blog.
The idea behind AdSense is quite simple: content-based sites display ads for products or services. The more traffic the content-rich website or blog receives, the more people are likely to click through the ads displayed on the site.
And, if you care about such things, the more revenue for you – or, in this B2B case, your company.
Now, there’s also the “retail” side to AdSense. It’s unclear whether Malaspina and Scearce were recommending that a medical device company participate in a Google AdSense campaign as a “publisher” or as a “retailer,” so we’ll address both.
A “retailer” is usually the side that is trying to sell their product or service.
“Retailers” are the ones that pay Google to make their ad available for AdSense “publishers” to post on their websites and blogs – usually this is in the form of a Pay-Per-Click ad campaign through Google AdWords (not to be confused with Google AdSense.)
I know. It can get a bit confusing as to who does what and how…
While there is much discussion about this, many say that if you are a “retailer” trying to sell a product or service, then you’re best bet is to just stick with Google AdWords.
This is because Google does not tell you which “publisher’s” website and blogs are displaying your ads as Google uses an algorithm to determine where your AdSense ads will appear.
What this can mean is that sometimes the relationship between the “retailer’s” ad and the “publisher’s” website or blog where it is being displayed is extremely vague – if not completely unrelated as some retailers have discovered…
In other words, you are at the mercy of Google’s judgment where your ads will appear.
The hypotheses some have made is that AdWords clicks often represent users looking to make a purchase, while AdSense clicks come from sites that primarily cater to visitors looking for information.
If you’re a medical device company, both alternatives can actually work on your behalf.
In the AdSense option, attention must be diverted away from what the visitor went to your site for in the first place (learn about your company, read an article, etc.), while with AdWords, your ad must simply be more appealing than the other ads also displayed.
So….what exactly was the “big idea” that Malaspina and Scearce were trying to make?
While it’s definitely open to interpretation, I’ll do my best to break it down for you in a “user-friendly” way.
If they are saying that a medical device marketer could use their company’s website as a “publisher,” this would mean that certain pages – or all pages – could display ads for products and services that may or may not relate to the content on their website.
And if it does relate, hopefully it’s not an ad for a competing product or service…
Let’s say someone goes to a medical device company’s website or blog because they are interested in a White Paper, webinar, Case Study, whatever…
They get engrossed in the rich content offered and, hopefully for the “retailer,” click on an ad that appears on that same page. This then directs the person to the “retailer’s” website and away from yours (the “publisher”).
If this happens, the medical device company would get paid a commission.
A few Pros to the AdSense “publishing” strategy are:
- The real focus is on the content of the website or blog. At the end of their White Paper, Malaspina and Scearce state that: “In healthcare markets, the requirement for reliable, clinically relevant information raises the bar for medical device marketers.”
As an AdSense “publisher,” marketers can glean insight as to whether or not the content on their site is indeed offering “relevant information.” If there are little to no clicks for the ads on the site, one inference that can be made is that the website or blog isn’t attracting many visitors.
- Content rich websites and blogs are what make most AdSense publishers successful. By offering content that builds trust and offers thought leadership, a medical device company is entering the purchase process as a partner, instead of as a vendor.
- It can be an additional revenue stream for the medical device company.
A main Con to this strategy is:
- Even though you can control – to some extent – how the ad looks on your site (it’s color, size, layout, etc.), having ads for other companies products and services has the potential to make your website look salesy, busy, and unprofessional.
If you are most concerned with positioning your medical device company as a thought leader and trusted advisor, having ads on your site might not be the smartest move.
If Malaspina and Scearce’s idea is for a medical device company to use Google AdSense as a “retailer” and create an ad that is then displayed on a related website or blog, then we’re having a different conversation altogether…
As stated above, there are definite “issues” with this – mainly related to lack of control as to where and what type of site their ad is displayed on.
Many argue that it is not worth the financial investment and “retailers” are better off using Google AdWords instead.
So is AdSense worth the trouble for a medical device marketer? Here are some pros and cons to keep in mind when evaluating AdSense as a marketing medium…
- Don’t overlook the exposure factor. As noted by Malaspina and Scearce, while “a cost-per-click advertising platform, and click-through rate on AdSense ads are usually well below 1%… this means that 99.5% of the time, you’re getting free branding, and.5% of the time, you’re paying for a very well-targeted click.”
That’s a lot of potential brand awareness IF the ads are well-crafted. You’ve got to ask yourself how much that kind of exposure is worth.
- Google AdSense is controllable (to an extent) so you have the ability to track campaigns, number of exposures (page views) and interactions (“click throughs” to your website).
Having acknowledged the exposure factor, ROI should still be your primary determining factor of a successful campaign.
- You have the ability to micro-test before implementing full-scale campaigns. While many have found that AdWords performs better for service providers than for product retailers, this is not a hard and fast rule; micro-testing is still your best indicator of success on a larger scale campaign.
- As it stands, Google provides no method of tracking which sites produce clicks to your website, nor do they allow you to pick and choose which sites to advertise on. This – more than any other reason – is why it is highly recommend you take the utmost care when testing AdSense.
- Most marketers are busier than ever. Micro-testing, tracking, strategizing, and all the other things you’ll need to do to produce an effective AdSense campaign…takes time.
It also requires that you ask your web team to help you, or bring in outside help if needed.
Therefore, time and spend factors need to be evaluated, and seriously committed to, in order for effectiveness to be determined.
- As previously mentioned, you have very little control over where your ads appear. Extra work needs to be done in order to derive insight from the publishing side that could help make your ads more effective.
At the end of the day, when it comes to any kind of ad – online or offline – copy is king. You need ad copy that discourages window-shoppers. Thus, at the very least, your ad should include a direct call-to-action that pre-qualifies your visitors.
While AdSense represents a significant revenue opportunity for online publishers, its effectiveness as a marketing medium for retailers and service providers has not been proven.
Does this mean you should shy away from it? No way. Medical device marketers must keep strategically raising the bar on their demand generation.
Like any merchant, medical device companies should approach tactics like Google AdSense carefully and evaluate it using a series of small test campaigns.
If effective, it will have great potential.
A main reason for this (though this is a topic for another blog article), is that there is a growing trend in the medical technology industry to follow what the pharmaceutical companies have done…attract, educate, and persuade consumers so that they are the ones putting the buying pressure on the decision makers (surgeons, hospital administrators).
In that space, Google AdSense and AdWords are a gold mine of opportunity.