Syneos: Advertising for clinical trial recruitment cannot take a one-size-fits-all approach

By Melissa Fassbender

- Last updated on GMT

Patients cite their doctor as the most trusted source of clinical trial information, a sentiment that resonates in advertising – which cannot take a “one-size-fits-all" approach – according to a recent report.

Syneos Health recently released a study evaluating the effectiveness of digital advertising to speed clinical trial recruitment.

The study involved 432 patients with epilepsy and migraines in the US, and evaluated trust levels as it pertains to specific online channels and platforms.

View: Infographic: Clinical trial recruitment and social advertising

According to the report, “your doctor”​ was chosen as the most trusted source of information about clinical trials – and “pharma company”​ was the least trusted source.

“That trust in medical professionals carried through to the ad creative,”​ explained Matthew Snodgrass, report contributor, Syneos Health Communications.

Imagery featuring a doctor in a white lab coat outperformed non-clinical imagery – which included a woman in discomfort – by nearly 10%, per the report.

“In terms of patients’ barriers to considering a clinical trial, what was even more interesting than the barriers themselves was the difference in their importance across the two conditions we studied,”​ Snodgrass told us.

For example, the number one barrier to clinical trial participation for epilepsy patients was transportation issues. “Not surprising, as driving to a trial site for many weeks would present a real challenge for this patient population,”​ said Snodgrass.

The main barrier for migraine respondents was concern of receiving a placebo.

Audience targeting and ad creative

Snodgrass said the key takeaway is that social advertising for clinical trial recruitment cannot take a “one-size-fits-all approach.”

“You need to know the channels, the appetite for receiving clinical trial information, and the motivations for different patient groups and demographics. This will drive your audience targeting and ad creative,”​ he explained.

“In the pharma marketing space, we’ve been sitting on mounds of data for years,”​ Snodgrass added, noting that social media advertising is the “first mediumthat can fully take advantage of that level of granularity in both audience targeting and creative variability.”

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