Facebook and Twitter to Make Ads Visible to the Public – Impact on Healthcare and Pharma

Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Twitter will soon be making ads visible to anybody who wants to see them.  Yes, anybody!  Patients, healthcare providers, competitors and advertising regulatory bodies.

This new ad transparency on social media is a result of the Russian ads that were placed on social media during the last American election. Tisk tisk!

Up until now, you saw ads on social media that were targeted to you based on the advertisers’ filters when placing the ad.  But very soon, you will be able to actively search and find ads by specific users with just a click of a button.  This is both exciting and unnerving for advertisers in all industries, including the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries.

What are the social networks doing to make advertising more transparent?

Facebook, Messenger and Instagram will be starting this process near the end of 2017 in Canada first and then will roll out to the United States by July 2018.  There will be a “View Ads” button to click on a Page to view the ads that the Page is currently running.  As such, all ads will need to be associated with a Page

Twitter will work a bit differently.  There will be an Advertising Transparency Center that will become public in the coming weeks.  From here, you will have access to the following information:

  • All ads that are currently running on Twitter
  • Amount of time that the ads have been running
  • Ad creative
  • Ads targeted to you, as well as personalized information on which ads you are eligible to receive based on targeting

Viewers of the ads on any of these platforms will be able to give immediate feedback and report ads.

So how will this impact social media advertisers within the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries?

    • Transparency means that people can see everything, so expect exactly that!  Expect competitors to come snooping around more often to see what you are advertising.  As you will probably use this as an opportunity to do more thorough competitive advertising reviews as well, right?

 

    • In the past, we could only estimate how much a competitor was advertising on social media.  But now we will have access to all the details.  If one realizes that competitors are way more active than what was previously thought, it is possible that we will see a surge in advertising by others, especially if their strategic objective is to target the users of a specific competitive brand.  However, I don’t anticipate this to happen for the Canadian pharmaceutical industry because of the restrictions in direct-to-consumer advertising.  In Canada, it will really still just be the market leaders who will benefit the most from these types of ads.  But in the United States, it is a possibility.

 

    • Expect more feedback and possibly reporting of your ads by either consumers or competitors.  Hopefully you will get positive feedback, but beware, because even your test ads will be visible now.  In speaking with Ad Standards (the organization that reviews Canadian consumer advertising for prescription drugs, OTC, medical devices, natural health products and very soon vaccines as well), they do not expect any significant changes to the number or type of complaints that they usually receive either from consumers or competitors.  Personally, I’m not so sure about that.  Some competitors are fierce about trying to stop advertising by others, but we all know that that usually ends up biting them right back in the you-know-what.  But we all know that some will absolutely be taking that chance anyways.

 

    • Speaking of test ads, we may find that advertisers test for shorter periods of time in order to limit the window of opportunity of competitors seeing their draft ads.  We all know that we need to test our ads, but who wants to do that openly?  We won’t have a choice, but I cannot imagine that many of us will be comfortable with that.

 

These are nothing more than guesses, so it will be interesting to review the impact a year from now to see which of these turned out to be correct and which did not.

Competitive review of social media ads:

Call me crazy, but I love finding healthcare-related ads and analyzing their creative and copy, and now I’ll be able to see a bit of their targeting features as well.  Woohoo!!!  I am looking forward to finding new pharmaceutical and healthcare ads on social media and sharing some of them with you so that you can share your thoughts on them.  Below, you will find a few that I spotted during the past few weeks on Facebook.  Enjoy!

If you would like a thorough social media advertising review for a particular therapeutic area or specific competitors, then please contact me at nat@marketing4health.net .  Truth be told, it would be my absolute pleasure to be your eyes and ears on social media!

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