Facebook for Global Patient Recruitment

Henning Semat, Head of Online Marketing

New Features to Optimize Global Patient Recruitment: Custom and Lookalike Audiences

With more than one billion users, the targeting possibilities of specific groups of people within Facebook also continue to expand. New features let marketers go beyond the basics of targeting ads to people based on location, age, gender, interest and behaviors to more advanced options of layering with custom and lookalike audiences. Usage among older adults continues to increase, which also positively impacts global patient recruitment.

    1. Using Custom Audiences. Custom audiences let you target specific groups of people you already know from other sources. Custom audience categories include:
      • Standard Data File: database information with an identifier such as an email or phone numbers, which is uploaded. Ads are delivered to Facebook users with matching information.
      • Custom audiences from your website: As Facebook’s version of retargeting, this group includes people who have visited your website.
      • Customer audience from your mobile app: Users taking specific actions (events) within your app

Your ad can be shown to, or blocked from any combination of these groups. Blocking specific groups, or exclusion targeting is a great way to narrow targeting to specific groups while limiting over-exposure to others.

How this works for global patient recruitment:

    • Examples of standard data files: Sites, sponsors, CROs and other organizations who routinely recruit for clinical studies will are likely to maintain participant databases that can be segmented by sub-populations, disease category or study category (healthy volunteer studies and patient trials). Relevant database segments can uploaded to Facebook as a starting point for a custom audience. To ensure privacy, the list is hashed locally on your browser and then sent to Facebook. There, it’s matched against an existing list of Facebook users’ hashed IDs and the matches are added to your custom audience.
    • Custom audiences from your website: Most organizations who routinely recruit for clinical studies host a website similar to ClinLife.com. Designed for the public health consumer, these websites contain general information on clinical research, and often include a searchable index of nearby clinical trials. Visitors who sign up receive notifications of upcoming studies. Visitors to these sites can be targeted by placing Facebook’s pixel on the site. A valuable feature of custom audiences is the ability to create an audience based on users who have shown interest by visiting specific pages. For example, you can run a campaign to re-target people who have visited disease-specific landing pages but didn’t sign up. You can also exclude people who have already signed up for clinical trial notifications or filled out online screeners. As users visit different pages on a website, they can be moved into, or taken out of, different audiences.
  1. Lookalike Audiences are expanded groups of people with similar demographic characteristics as those within your existing target audiences.
    • Creating a lookalike audience to expand clinical trial targeting is exactly as it sounds. While lookalike audience segments are confined to one country at a time, Facebook looks for users with similar demographic traits, interests and behavior as those in datasets defined by you, such as custom audiences, or from your Facebook page’s fan profile.
    • You can also combine multiple custom audiences and/or lookalike audiences to refine your targeting.