The Pharma Marketer’s Guide to Display Ads

Pharma marketers face a unique set of challenges when marketing online, most notably the FDA guidelines requiring “fair balance.”


Fair balance requires pharma ads to state a product’s risks if it also describes the product's benefits or the diseases it treats. Pharma marketers long have been constrained by this rule, which restricts their creative space on print and digital ads and their air time in TV commercials. Yet, pharma marketers have devised new ways to market digitally to HCPs and consumers, especially by making the Important Safety Information (ISI) more palatable or by removing it entirely.

This definitive guide will help you choose the best format for your ads, design creative and engaging ads, and write the perfect copy for your banner ads.

Speak to Your Target Audience
Digital advertising lets you target specific audiences with different ads. Make sure you have different messages for different audiences. Google’s responsive ad design, for example, can reformat your ads to fit different layouts available on each website.


Catch Their Eye
Use colors and images that stand out, and try interactive designs and animation to further capture users’ attention. People are exposed to 11,250 display ads per month, so your choice of image is essential to differentiate your ad from the other 11,249.2

Size Matters
The top performing ad sizes are 300x250, 336x280, 728x90,300x600, and 320x100, which gives you five different choices based on your marketing plan.3 Leaderboard ads (728x90), for example, are most effective when text and image ads are enabled and when they are on forum sites.3

KISS: Keep it Short and Sweet
Users will spend seconds studying your ad, so make it as easy as possible for them to glean your message from your ad. Keep the copy short and use white space to direct them to your CTA.

Stay True to Your Colors
Some disreputable marketing blogs claim certain colors have subliminal effects, but always use your brand colors in your ads. After all, have you ever seen a Coca-Cola ad with yellow text?

Place Your Logo Prominently
Your logo is a source of trust and authority, so it needs be placed where a user will instantly see it. Choose background colors and images that make your logo pop.


Declare Your Intentions
Be serious. Or be witty. Or be creative. Whatever the tone, your headline affects how people perceive your brand and sets the mood of your ad. So, make sure it represents your brand.

Don't Forget Your Subtitle
Your subtitle should reiterate or expound on the benefits mentioned in the title. It also serves to unify your title, image, and call to action.

Pictures are Worth One Thousand Words
Your image at the very least must convey what you would have written in the space it takes up. Ideally, however, it should be more than that: It should reinforce the theme of the title and grab the user’s attention.

Incite Them to Action
Your call to action (CTA) should stand out, be concise, and inspire action. It should make clear to the user what happens after he clicks; avoid banal phrases like, “Buy Now!” and “Learn more.” Also, speak in the first person and use buttons to increase performance.

Retarget, Retarget, Retarget
The average retargeted ad’s click-through rate is 10 times higher than that of all display ads.4 Retargeting maximizes the life of your ad with incredible efficiency and effectiveness.

Did You Know?
Conversion rates for those who are exposed six times to an ad are twice as high as for those who are exposed once.5




Reminder Ads

These banner ads serve to remind HCPs and patients about the brand, but do not explicitly state the benefits of the product. Because they mention neither the use of a drug nor its benefits, there’s no need to describe its risks. Note, however, black box drugs are ineligible to be promoted via reminder ads.



Help-seeking Ads

“Do you struggle to create engaging banner ads? You may be suffering from marketer’s fatigue.” You probably recognize the cadence of this phrase from pharma help-seeking ads. They enlighten consumers about the existence of treatments, but do not mention the product or its benefits, and thus are not required to share the ISI. These ads, however, can be branded by the pharma company that created the ad.




These banner ads now enable interactivity, but the biggest improvement might just be the ability to add scroll boxes to banner ads. Pack the ISI into a scroll box to confine it to a small box, which leaves more space to be creative.



Rich Media Ads

More broadly than just HTML5 ads, rich media ads use video and audio to try to catch a viewer’s attention in just a few seconds. YouTube, for example, usually gives advertisers six seconds before users can skip the ad, so advertisers try to create six-second stories. Recognizing the cost of air time during the Super Bowl, 84 Lumber aired a brilliantly provocative (part of their) ad that instructed viewers to visit their website to watch the rest. More than 300,000 users visited and crashed their site within a minute of the commercial airing.1

Contact us to learn about our targeted digital capabilities to reach HCPs across the Lippincott network.



2 Huffington Post:
4 invesp:
5 WordStream:

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