Google just showed off mockups of its fancy new pharma ads at FDA’s social media hearing, on November 12. A few months back, the big G mentioned that it was working on ads to appease both pharmaceutical marketers and FDA, but this is the first time most people got to lay eyes on the new ad units.
According to Mary Ann Belliveau, Google’s director of healthcare advertising, the new ads will include both brand name and healthcare information, as well as a brand URL. To make the ads FDA compliant, each unit will include an abridged warning notice that links to the full risk information. The lead subject line will link to the brand site, so each ad will have two different URLs linking to two different locations.
As it stands right now, pharma companies cannot use brand names and brand URLs in link ads without risk information. This is pretty much impossible to achieve since the risk info takes up too much room on the tiny ads. The other option is to only include the disease state and a generic URL, but Belliveau made it clear in her presentation that this isn’t a practical option.
In April, FDA sent out 14 warning letters to pharma companies that were mixing brand and health information without risk information in the actual search ad. Many of the pharma companies assumed that as long as risk/benefit information was within one click away, then they were in the clear. They assumed wrong, and many were forced to pull their search ads.
Earlier in the day, Yahoo said that it was testing new rich links in text ads to try to appease FDA requirements. The new ads would allow risk or company information to appear when a user hovers over a logo.
FDA is taking in all the suggestions from the Big Two search firms during the two-day hearing, but made it clear that this is just an information gathering process and that a formal decision on guidelines or actions would be down the road.