Black Box Warning Required for Digital Rx Ads

This week CDD expanded its work on public health & digital advertising to include issues related to prescription drug advertising and health marketing online.  It submitted to the FDA, as part of that agency’s proceeding on Internet and social media marketing, comments.  We are speaking on this issue next week in New York.  And we will be dedicating resources via this blog and other venues on the issue.

But meanwhile we will begin by covering some of the latest developments.  In our FDA comments, we raise questions about the online targeting and data collection practices of online health marketers, including the tracking and targeting a consumer by their medical “condition.”  One of the companies we cited was “Everyday Health” and its “ConditionMatch(TM)” marketing system.  Today, that company posted a release saying it was the “faster-growing health network.”  Here’s an excerpt:  GHM audience is up 93% over a year ago — to 32 million unique visitors monthly — due to growth in consumers’ appetite for sophisticated, condition-specific information on niche sites. Advertisers have followed…

One factor driving the ad gains: a precise targeting capability GHM calls ConditionMatch(TM), which profiles “in-market” consumers (people searching for specific medical and wellness information). GHM delivers three primary audience channels: Consumer Medical, Consumer Wellness, and Healthcare Professionals. The Medical Channel delivers condition-specific audiences (e.g., allergy, diabetes, depression); Wellness bridges a marketplace gap by combining fitness and nutrition sites; and HCP aggregates professional website audiences.

“Pharma and CPG brands want condition specific-audiences of scale,” said Bill Jennings, CEO of Good Health Media. “Our site partners attract more a more frequent, loyal audience than broader health destinations online. We’re able to reach people who are actively seeking specific information on partner sites and across the Internet. That’s the ideal platform.”

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

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