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BMS’s Opdivo TV Commercial Thanks Clinical Trial Participants

Patient Recruitment Patient Engagment Opdivo Commercial 2

There’s a lot of talk in clinical trial circles about patient engagement, making trials more patient-centric, and involving participants in the research results. The ultimate goal of all of this is to bring patients closer to the heart of clinical research. By participating in a clinical trial, you are helping to advance medical research that may provide better treatment or quality of life to you or your loved ones down the road. By participating in a clinical trial, you may receive an experimental medication that might work better than your existing treatment, which for many people, is a huge sigh of relief. Participating in a trial is a noble act with effects that reach far beyond the participant.

I can sense a collective aspiration in the industry to promote clinical trial participation to the general public, but how do you do that in a way that reaches the masses? How do you overcome the ‘needle-poked-guinea-pig’ preconception that is associated with a clinical trial participant? And who is going to pay for this?

This is why I really appreciated the effort made by Bristol-Myers Squibb in their Opdivo “Longer Life” commercial to thank the patients and physicians who participated in the trial. It’s a small 5-second gesture, but I really think it has the potential to change the industry. Imagine if every pharma commercial ended with this same message, viewers would start to take note. The public would realize that it is only through courageous volunteers that new treatments are discovered, and when it comes time for their loved ones to receive a treatment for their condition, they will know exactly who to thank as well.

Patient Recruitment Patient Engagment Opdivo Commercial 1

Here’s the full commercial:


Want to know if the audience is getting the messsage? Check out the Facebook comments below the TV spot on iSpot.tv.

9 Reasons to Work With an Ad Agency

When planning an ad campaign or marketing outreach for your company, whether TV advertising, direct response, clinical trial or something entirely different, many businesses believe that they have sufficient staff in-house to handle their needs. Marketing, advertising, it’s all the same, right? The reality is you’re almost always better off to hire an ad agency to plan your advertising campaign. The value an outside ad agency can provide is immense.

Clinical Trial

Here are nine reasons you should be using an ad agency for your clinical trial:

  1. An ad agency works on behalf of their client and many times they can provide services at little or no cost. Many agencies operate on a commission or kick-back from other vendors or services they utilize. For example, when an ad agency buys advertising time for a client, they get a 15% commission from the total ad budget back from the TV or radio stations. So if an ad agency buys $100,000 worth of advertising time for your campaign, they would get $15k back from the stations as a commission. And the $100,000 advertising buy is often at a discounted rate compared to what the client may have been able to purchase directly from the stations on their own. So you’re going to get more ad space or more TV advertising time and at a cheaper rate. The agency is able to provide all the expertise of ad buying and all the leg-work of negotiating rates and placing the media at absolutely no cost to the client.
  2. You get to leverage the expertise of the ad agency for other services. Don’t let your grassroots DIY (Do-It-Yourself) efforts do more harm than good. Save that for your attempted bathroom remodel. An ad agency can develop your branding and make sure your advertising messages are consistent. They know what types of advertising work with your target markets and how to reach that target market. They’re also experts in many advertising mediums enabling them to easily convert one marketing campaign to another with little time or effort.
  3. Most ad agencies will have exceptional talent in-house. A team of graphic designers, copywriters, film makers, videographers and other marketing and advertising specialists. They are experienced at designing campaigns using less time and space, thereby saving you additional money. These are all professionals that independently would consume a large portion of your budget, if not exceed it altogether.
  4. An ad agency will also work harder to provide a top-notch campaign for you. They are more motivated to do a better job because they want to keep you as a client, where as an internal department doing your advertising may lack this type of motivation.
  5. An ad agency can provide an objective look at your company, your product and your marketing. They can approach it from the viewpoint of a customer, something that your in-house team cannot do.
  6. An ad agency will be able to provide new, fresh ideas based on current trends in the industry. They’re constantly aware of new advertising trends and can see what has worked for others, what hasn’t and how to apply that to your business.
  7. An ad agency can deliver proven strategies. When you are your own client, you often have to experiment to see if a particular strategy will work for your business. Agencies can employ strategies that have been successful for their other clients, also known as ‘experience.’
  8. You will be provided a single point of contact to get your marketing needs taken care of. One person will take care of the leg work and coordinating each aspect of your marketing campaign, as opposed to you trying to coordinate several different professionals.
  9. It saves you valuable time. Hiring an ad agency for your direct response marketing is a partnership between the advertiser (you) and the agency. Strategically planning and running any kind of advertising campaign takes a tremendous amount of time and energy. This is time and energy that could be put back into the work that your company does, as opposed to overseeing marketing. If you’re running your own campaign you want to be sure that it is consistent with your brand, effective in reaching your target audience and all the while staying within your budget and preparing for any problems that may arise or changes that may need to be made as you move forward.

For what it’s worth, we at Patient Recruitment Ads are not an advertising agency. We are a content producer. We design and produce advertising for your clinical trial, but we are not a full-service advertising agency. We do work with agencies on a regular basis and really enjoy it. The value and expertise they provide to their clients, while saving them time and money along the way, make working with an agency for patient recruitment a no-brainer. If you are curious about working with an agency, or would like some recommendations, feel free to reach out. We’d be happy to share what we know.

HD vs. SD: What Format is Best for Patient Recruitment?

One of the most frequent questions we get from our clients is whether to advertise in HD (high definition) or SD (standard definition). What’s interesting is that most people outside of the industry would not consider this to be a debatable topic. Why would any advertiser go with an outdated format to do that advertising? As easy as that question appears to be to answer, the fact is there seems to be an reverse time warp when it comes to direct response TV advertising. Whether it’s due to the cost to produce an HDTV ad, or the possibility that those that produce direct response ads may be late adopters of HD technology, research clearly shows that direct response advertisers typically utilize HD 17% less often than other verticals.[1]

I have spent a fair amount of time perusing clinical research centers’ websites and social media channels, and my experience confirms these statistics. Most patient recruitment TV ads that I have found are standard definition. And each time I see an SD ad, I can’t help but feel that they are leaving something on the table. They are missing out on an opportunity to deliver a clearer message, a better representation of their brand, and ultimately better response. I think this reverse timewarp still has some producers or advertisers stuck in the mindset that HD is still new and a novelty, when, in fact, that is not the case.

Consider these statistics about HDTV versus SDTV:

  • (SD) Standard definition TV sets have not been manufactured since 2008.
  • 81% of homes have an HD TV set.[2]
  • 74% of all TV ads are in HD (as of Q3, 2015, according to Extreme Reach).

In addition, there is also research that shows that HDTV ads help to increase the ‘intent to purchase’[1], have 3x higher ‘ad recall’ compared to SD ads[3], and have 41% fewer ‘tune-aways’ (number of viewers who change the channel).[5]

Why Do HD Television Ads Perform Better Than SD Ads?

Why would that be? Viewers are quickly able to spot the difference between an HD ad and an SD ad. SD ads are designed to be viewed on an SDTV. Surveys show 76% of viewers said they could spot content shown on HD channels, but not produced in HD. The most discerning viewers seem to be men between the ages of 18-55.[4] When you consider that most viewers are watching these ads on an HDTV, this is where the problems come in. An SD ad never displays properly on an HDTV, due to differing resolutions and screen sizes. For instance, HD ads are designed for a wide screen format (16×9 aspect ratio), where SD ads are set up in a square format (4×3 aspect ratio). This alone will affect how the ad appears on an HDTV. Usually, TV stations will expand your SD ad to fill the frame vertically, but your 4×3 aspect ratio leaves large black areas on the sides of your ad. On top of that, some TV’s may stretch the image horizontally so it fills the entire screen, which results in an extremely distorted image.

Clinical Trial Advertising

Next is the issue of image quality. An SD ad on an HD TV can appear blurry or choppy, depending on the TV set that it’s being viewed on. This is a result of the difference in pixels. A pixel is a point of colored light that makes up the overall image displayed on the screen. For SDTV, there are 480 rows of pixels from top to bottom with 640 or 704 columns of pixels from left to right. For HDTV, there are a minimum of 1080 pixels top to bottom and 1920 left to right. Quite a difference. And those HD dimensions are the minimum. Many TVs have thousands more pixels in each direction, with Ultra HD having 16 times more than the current SD standards. If you’ve ever tried to enlarge a photo and noticed the distortion that occurs, then you can understand what happens to a 704×480 image that is stretch to 1920×1080. It’s the same concept.

Producing your ad in HD format also gives you an advantage when using the internet to promote your clinical trial. The 16×9 widescreen aspect ratio is the default for online videos. If your ad is produced in HD format, it is ready to air online via YouTube, Facebook, or on your website, and still be in it’s natural dimensions.

How viewer perception changes with SD advertising

We already know that viewers can tell the difference. They can tell when an SD ad was used if they are viewing it on an HDTV. What kind of underlying message does this send to viewers? If your audience can tell that you’re using an outdated format for advertising, is it possible that they might think you are cutting corners in other aspects of your business? At the very least using outdated technology does not put you on the same level playing fields as an established, premium brand. It can create apprehension in the eyes of the viewer, especially in an industry where you need to establish trust and reliability to convert your viewers to participants.

Where do broadcasters stand on the HD vs SD debate?

Now that we know that the viewers do notice, what about the networks? 82% of major networks and 70% of national cable networks consider HD to be the broadcasting standard. There are some stations that may require an SD “down convert” with your HD ad, but those are the exception, not the norm. It is also the broadcasting standard across all internet channels.

Interestingly enough, the statistics shared are for US viewers and advertisers. Canada seems to be ahead of us in this, with nearly all Canadian TV media now utilizing HD and Canadian advertisers running more ads in HD than U.S. Advertisers. [1]

Advertising in HD will give you more results for your advertising dollar and help your business stand out in a positive way. HD ads simply work better than SD ads, and that is why without a doubt we always recommend to our clients to produce and distribute their TV ads in HD.

[1] Video Advertising Trends Report, Q3, 2014, Extreme Reach
[2] Leichtman Research Group: http://leichtmanresearch.com/press/031315release.html, March 13, 2015
[3] Starcom and Discovery Networks Study
[4] http://www.responsemagazine.com/direct-response-marketing/media-zone-we-want-our-hdtv-ads-4982
[5] Kantar Media Set-top Box Analysis


Top 5 Reasons Why TV Advertising Works for Patient Recruitment in 2015

In a time of ever-expanding online, digital, and mobile advertising opportunities, recruiters for clinical trials face a growing number of options to find prospective patients for their studies. And as these new methods emerge, it’s worth evaluating the ‘traditional’ approaches and how they stand against current options.

Patient Recruitment TV Advertising

Top 5 Reasons Why TV Advertising Works for Patient Recruitment in 2015

Let’s be honest…today’s strategies can be highly targeted and very affordable (if not free!). Posting study information to your own social media channels can be done quickly and easily. Facebook ads can be localized to your geographic area, targeted by age, gender, and health preferences, all fairly inexpensively. Not to mention local Craigslist postings or pay-per-lead options.

But all the convenience or ease of use means nothing until you can affirmatively answer the question:


In our recent talks with pharmaceutical sponsors, recruitment firms and agencies, the general feeling we’ve gathered is that while new digital strategies have their time and place, you end up paying for a lot of clicks but are left underwhelmed by conversions to fill your study. So when the heat is on and timelines are short, you need a strategy that will consistently deliver a volume of qualified leads. More often than not, patient recruiters turn to television to produce the bulk of enrollments for patient recruitment.

So without further ado, here are our top 5 reasons why TV advertising works for patient recruitment in 2015:

1) Effectiveness

TV is the #1 influencer of all media types. Consumers trust TV more than any other advertising medium, and are more likely to consider an idea, make a purchase, or visit a website when the message is delivered via TV. (More on this in a minute.) Most likely, your trial is not something your prospective patients have sought out. There is a huge chasm of relevance (“Does this apply to me?”). Also, people tend to view clinical trials as risky. This is precisely why TV shines in patient recruitment. TV builds trust for a ‘risky proposition.’ When you run online banner ads, they compete with get-rich-quick seminars and unbelievably low interest mortgage brokers. No wonder people may not trust your banner ad or Facebook ad! With TV, there is a higher barrier to entry. While this ‘higher barrier’ may include higher cost, more planning and strategy, and a longer timeline to implement, the process weeds out the slick and sketchy, resulting in a medium that consistently invokes a sense of reliability and trust, which directly translates to more response and consequently engagement.

2) Availability

When targeting specific patient populations, you have to consider how available your marketing platform is to your target audience.

  • 30% of homes have satellite TV
  • 64% of Americans have a smartphone
  • 73% of Americans text
  • 81% have a PC with internet
  • 96% of homes have a TV

Will a text message connect with your Alzheimer population? Will your Facebook ad deliver qualified leads for your Parkinson’s study? Or will your tweet be re-tweeted enough for your healthy normal trial? The fact that you can reach 96% of homes in America through television is an open door directly to your patient population, regardless of what demographic they fit.

The fact that you can reach 96% of homes in America through television is an open door directly to your patient population, regardless of what demographic they fit.

3) Reach

With more channels and platforms for viewers to consume, the increased number of options has led to a fragmentation of viewership. Social media, texts, calls, email, radio, TV, Pandora, YouTube, video on demand, and oh yeah, personal interaction, all compete for our attention. We can watch TV and stream Pandora, but also access content on our tablet, engage in social media on our phone, while working from our laptop. Does this mean less people are watching TV or listening to the radio? Not necessarily. More often than not, we are doing many of these things at the same time.

Reach is the measurement of how much of our target audience we are hitting. On any given day:

  • Newspapers reach 34% of the public
  • Radio reaches 60% of the public
  • Internet reaches 73% of the public
  • TV reaches 90% of the public

The fact remains: Most Americans are watching a lot of TV everyday, and it is the best place to connect with your intended audience.

The added bonus to reach is that it helps build brand recognition. TV builds trust and recognition for your brand, multiplying the effects of your radio ad, your social media posts and ads, and your online banner ads.

4) Popularity

While the average American adult is awake 15 hours each day, 7 of those hours are spent with media. 47% of that ‘media’ time they are WATCHING, 20% of the time they are browsing, 12% of the time they are listening, and 6% of the time they are social networking.

Americans are watching TV daily, and on average over 4 hours per day. In order to find patients for your studies, you have to put your message where your prospective patient population already is.

In order to find patients for your studies, you have to put your message where your prospective patient population already is.

5) Perception

One of the primary reasons TV works better than newspaper, radio, or online advertising is because the public perceives television to be extremely trustworthy. In a recent study, people were asked to state which medium they perceived to rank the most influential, authoritative, powerful, effective, persuasive, engaging, and relevant. TV consistently outpaced the competition, oftentimes at a rate of 2 to 1. Simply put, the public trusts what appears on TV far more than what they view online. This is why we consistently see our clients generate so many patient recruitment leads through TV advertising. TV has the ability to put the viewer at ease, inform and educate the viewer, and then move them to action.

So yes, there is lots of buzz about social media and online advertising for recruitment of participants for clinical trials. And rightly so. The ability to target such precise populations and the ability to ‘listen’ to your audience and build true engagement are unmatched by traditional forms of advertising. However, building your active online community of engagement takes time, and often times, that is the one thing that sponsors do not have. When time is of the essence and enrollments are lagging, television advertising shines in delivering fast and frequent response for your patient recruitment.