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Internet Drug Ads Show Stunning ROI

Internet ads targeted at getting consumers to request a particular drug when at the doctor's office have been stunningly effective compared to other media, according to a study conducted by Cyber Dialogue.

Pharmaceutical companies spent $14 online per customer that requested the advertised drug, while driving the same response through TV ads cost $197 per customer, and print ads cost $220.

"These findings provide pharmaceutical product managers with a benchmark to help them to assess the relative value of their marketing dollar. More broadly, these data also underscore the necessity of a coherent, comprehensive Internet strategy at every company," says Thaddeus Grimes-Gruczka, vice president of Cyber Dialogue's Health Practice.

The findings are a boon to sites like HealthWatch.com, DrKoop.com, Oncology.com, and others that rely on significant advertising dollars from the pharmaceutical industry.

Cyber Dialogue found that, of those consumers who requested a specific drug from their physician, the Internet spurred two percent to request a drug, while five percent were influenced by print ads and eight percent from TV. The small percentage influenced by the Internet, though, probably stems from the fact that relatively few dollars have been spent online.

Pharmaceutical companies spent an estimated $915 million on direct-to-consumer ads in the first half of 1999. TV ads accounted for $530 million of that, and $370 million went to print ads. Only $10 million, or about one percent, was spent on the Internet.

The Cyber Dialogue findings are based on in-depth interviews with more than 2,700 US adults. The study took place in July 1999 and is accurate within plus or minus 2.4 percent at the 95 percent confidence interval.