NEW YORK, Aug. 14, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Nearly 2 in 3 U.S. adults say they recall seeing advertising in the past 12 months. But recall of digital advertising for prescription drugs is beginning to approach parity with TV advertising – among the 65% of U.S. patients who recall seeing or hearing Rx ads in the past 12 months, nearly two-thirds remembered seeing TV ads and half (49%) remembered seeing ads online. And the data suggest that online ads are as effective as TV ads at prompting online Rx researchers to ask their doctor about a specific prescription drug, while allowing for the greater personalization consumers increasingly expect. Data from DRG Digital | Manhattan Research's Cybercitizen Health® U.S. 2018 study of 3,084 U.S. patients show that:

  • Among the 61% of patients who had researched prescription drugs online in the past 12 months, 34% had requested a specific prescription drug at least once. Among patients who had requested an Rx, 25% were prompted to do so by a TV ad and 25% by ads seen online.
  • Among the 65% of patients who recalled seeing or hearing TV ads about prescription drugs in the past 12 months, 22% had requested a specific drug. Among the 49% of patients who recalled seeing or hearing online ads, 42% had requested a specific Rx drug.
  • TV or online ads may be particularly effective at reaching some condition groups. Among online Rx researchers requesting a prescription, patients with multiple sclerosis, hypertension and Alzheimer's Disease were particularly likely to cite TV ads as the impetus for their request, while patients with hepatitis C, type 1 diabetes and severe asthma were more likely to cite online ads. Rheumatoid arthritis patients who conducted online research were much more responsive to both TV and online ads than were patients generally.
  • Brand recall for TV ads tracked closely with spending -- AbbVie's immunosuppressant Humira, the most-advertised brand on TV in 2017, was the brand that the most patients recalled seeing TV ads for.

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"Increasingly, we expect highly-personalized experiences as consumers of goods and services, whether we're buying shoes or seeking treatment for a condition," said Rory Stanton, head of patient research at DRG Digital. "Digital advertising enables personalization – but advertisers need to be wary of the 'creepy factor,' especially when dealing with sensitive medical conditions."

Many patients seek out additional information online after learning about a product through advertising. Intriguingly, the data indicate that while patients are more likely to visit general health websites like WebMD or Everyday Health, those visiting pharma websites are more likely to request a specific drug.

"We've seen in our studies that advertising is really good at sparking that initial awareness," said Stanton. "But websites are even more effective at getting patients to 'ask their doctor,' pharma websites most of all. So the task for pharma brands is to utilize that advertising to drive patients to their digital properties while also investing in other touchpoints, like paid search and sponsored content on general health websites, to meet them in many places as they go about gathering information to make a treatment decision."

Patients visiting pharma websites early in the treatment journey are more likely to request a specific medication, said Stanton. For example, 52% of patients using pharma websites to prep for a doctor visit had requested a specific drug, while 33% of those using general health websites for the same purpose had requested Rx.

"We're advising clients to invest in paid and organic search strategies to drive patients to their websites in the pre-doctor's visit stage and at the point of care," she added, noting that nearly 1 in 10 patients recalled viewing Rx ads on a digital device at the point of care.

These findings come from the Cybercitizen Health® U.S. 2018 study, which gives pharma and healthcare industry companies an in-depth understanding of consumer health info-seeking and decision-making behavior. DRG Digital | Manhattan Research's newly-published ePharma Consumer: Innovation Guide offers a deep dive into consumer behaviors and attitudes regarding emerging technologies like AI, voice assistants and chatbots in healthcare. In addition to these Manhattan Research patient surveys, DRG Digital's forthcoming Patient Experience Index, publishing in September, will benchmark diabetes brands, and the company will publish a Voice/AI Report in January cataloguing innovation of interest to pharmas in these emerging technologies. To request information about our patient, physician and payer studies, specific data segments or study methodology, email

About DRG Digital | Manhattan Research

DRG Digital, part of DRG, is the life science industry's partner for data-driven customer engagement and commercial innovation. DRG Digital's Manhattan Research studies are the longest-running studies of multichannel attitudes and behaviors among healthcare customers. Brands, marketers and digital teams at 40+ leading life sciences companies rely on our experts, research and intelligence to understand their customers and engage them with the right channels, content, messaging and innovations.

Visit or follow @DRGDigital to keep up to date on our analysts' thinking and access eBooks, infographics, webinars and other resources.

About Decision Resources Group

DRG, a subsidiary of Piramal Enterprises Ltd., is the premier source for global healthcare data and market intelligence. A trusted partner for over 20 years, DRG helps companies competing in the global healthcare industry make informed business decisions. Organizations committed to developing and delivering life-changing therapies to patients rely on DRG's in-house team of expert healthcare analysts, data scientists, and consultants for critical guidance. DRG products and services, built on extensive data assets and delivered by experts, empower organizations to succeed in complex healthcare markets.

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Media contact: Sydney Ferber, +1-212-414-7598,

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