The diabetes epidemic in the United States has been well-documented in recent years, including by the Center for Disease Control, which reported a 300% increase in the disease in the U.S. population from 1980 to 2014. To help chronicle how advertisers have been marketing to the estimated 24-29 million diabetes sufferers in the U.S., AdGooroo recently contributed research on diabetes advertising in paid search to the new Advertising Age-Kantar Media Healthcare Marketing report. The following insights expand on that research with additional data and analysis.
AdGooroo studied U.S. Google desktop text ad activity on 1,013 diabetes-related keywords from June 2015 through May 2016. During the 12-month period, 4,549 advertisers spent $28.8 million sponsoring these keywords at an average clickthrough rate of 4.45% and an average cost per click of $3.32.
The Top Keywords by Ad Spend
The top diabetes keywords range from general terms such as ‘diabetes’ and ‘type 2 diabetes’ to more specific informational terms related to diabetes symptoms, diet and treatments.
The top keyword during the period by far was ‘type 2 diabetes’ with nearly $5.7 million in paid search spend from June 2015 through May 2016. The term ‘diabetes’ ranked 2nd with $4.4 million in ad spend, followed by ‘symptoms of diabetes’ ($1.3 million), ‘diabetes symptoms’ ($1.2 million) and ‘type 2 diabetes symptoms’ ($969,000).
There was one branded term in the top 20 keyword ranking, ‘american diabetes association’, which is the name of the well-known non-profit charity organization. Interestingly, the term ‘american diabetes association’ had 106 advertisers sponsoring it during the period, a particularly high number for the brand name of an organization, suggesting other advertisers were taking advantage of the household name status of the American Diabetes Association to attract individuals to their own sites.
Type 1 vs. Type 2 Diabetes
There were 8 terms in the top 20 related to type 2 diabetes compared to just 1 term in the ranking for type 1 diabetes. In total, there were 116 type 2 terms among the 1,013 diabetes-related keywords in the keyword group, compared to a total of 48 type 1 terms.
The disparity in advertising on the two diseases is not surprising considering that type 2 diabetes is far more prevalent in the U.S. population than type 1 diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, out of the 29.1 million Americans they estimate to have diabetes, just 1.25 million or 4% have type 1 diabetes.
The Most Expensive Keywords
As noted above, the average cost per click across all 1,013 diabetes keywords was $3.32 during the 12-month period. However, there were terms in the keyword group with a significantly higher average cost per click, including ten keywords in the chart above, which range in an average cost per click from $9.87 to $12.79.
Notably, the diabetes keywords with the highest average cost per click were all related to medical treatment of the disease. Treatment keywords likely are more expensive than general terms because they are more likely to be clicked on by ‘in-market consumers’, that is, individuals with diabetes who are actively researching medical treatments and may be receptive to messages from pharmaceutical advertisers.
Yet despite these tendencies, only 2 of the top 10 most expensive diabetes keywords depicted in the chart above had significant consumer click activity and associated ad spend: ‘type 2 diabetes treatments’ (23,000 clicks, $237,369 in ad spend) and ‘diabetes treatment’ (38,000 clicks and $387,584 in ad spend).
Top Advertisers by Paid Search Spend
The top 20 diabetes advertisers ranking is dominated by pharmaceutical companies, which account for 13 of the 20 positions.
All but one of these pharma sites utilizes an unbranded website URL, which is allowed under Google’s strict rules and, we suspect, is meant to encourage consumers to view the site as offering educational rather than promotional information.
For example, the #2 site in the ranking with $1.7 million in spend is diabetes.com, which redirects to GlaxoSmithKline’s tanzeum.com, a pharmaceutical site targeted to individuals with type 2 diabetes. Other pharmaceutical advertisers utilizing unbranded website URLs include Merck’s Januvia ($1.5 million), Boehringer Ingelheim’s Tradjenta ($1.3 million), Farxiga’s AstraZeneca ($1.2 million) and Lilly’s Humalog ($680,000).
The only pharma manufacturer in the top 20 ranking to use a branded site was Sanofi, for its daily insulin injection product, Toujeo. Its toujeo.com spent $761,000 on U.S. Google desktop text ads during the period.
Research & Advocacy Groups
Six of the top 20 positions are occupied by diabetes research and advocacy groups, including the American Diabetes Association’s site diabetes.org, which ranked #1 with nearly $1.8 million spent on the keyword group during the 12-month period studied.
JDRF, a global organization that funds type 1 diabetes research, has 2 sites in the top 20: jrdf.org and jdrfdsw.org, both of which direct to jrdf.org. The combined spend of both sites exceeds $1.63 million, effectively making JDRF the third largest advertiser on the keyword group based on paid search spend during the period.
The three remaining research/advocacy groups are joslin.org ($1.1 million), the site of research and treatment facility Joslin Diabetes Center, diatribe.org ($863,000), the site of the diaTribe Foundation, and diabetesresearch.org ($546,000), the fundraising site for the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation.
Lastly, health.alot.com is ranked 20th with $378,000 in spend, but is neither a pharmaceutical advertiser nor an advocacy group. Rather, it’s a content site from Alot that features informational articles with advertising and links to affiliate sites.