Google+ And Healthcare – Wait And See

Although Google only launched its new service, Google+ less than two weeks ago there are numerous articles and opinions surfacing about it online. While internet users are still trying to get used to the new feature, marketers (as usual) are already publishing predictions on the effect it is going to have on advertising.

One very optimistic post caught my eye. Analysts of Communications Media Inc. suggested that Google+ is going to revolutionize the way people search on the internet, and ultimately this is going to influence the quality of healthcare content online. The analysts anticipate Google+ to provide helping tools for marketers:

While Google has always been strong in offering advertisers the ability to reach consumers at the point of purchase intent, with Google+ they will now be able to leverage one’s interest graph to provide even more meaningful connections for advertisers. (…) Perhaps Google is banking on the fact that when a searcher sees that members of one of their circles have clicked on the “+1” button for a paid search ad, the searcher will trust the ad more, and more likely to click on it.

We expect health will be an area of high interest for consumers and HCPs.  As a result this product has the potential to significantly change the online health information landscape. For marketers, we expect the greatest opportunity to affect unbranded search, such as for a disease state rather than for a medication, which is consistent with best practices for promotion in a social media environment.

While I agree with the first part, that if people start using Google+ in large scales, it could potentially help marketers to better target their advertisements. But I don’t see the clear connection between paid ads and Google+. With or without the new service, people first need to be interested in the paid ad. And lot of internet users are suspicious about paid or sponsored content. In my opinion these sometimes come off a little too aggressive for a consumer.

My other concern is the highly positive expectations the analysts looked at the possible change of health information online. I think the difference between content about a condition or a drug are not that different when it comes to searches. People do check drug information online, so you can’t unquestionably state that content about different diseases is going to be more popular than articles about certain medications. Also, the rules of publishing content about prescription drugs change with every government, so we can’t suggest anything too general in that area.

Also, as others pointed out, there are certain conditions that people may search for, but would want their search history to stay private. To give a very simple example, as well as no Facebook users are posting their concerns about STDs, chances are really low people would like to publicly search articles about these conditions. Medical issues are often very personal, so I am convinced users would like to keep their searches under the radar.

But for us to see how Google+ will effect users’ search activity, as well as healthcare content and marketing, first it has to grow into a mass-application. And with features very similar to Facebook, we have to wait and see if it could offer a new experience for internet users. It will be certainly hard to convince people not to join, but actually spend a lot of time using Google+. Its competitor, Facebook has more than 7 years of advantage. Building a fan base and community of users takes time. You don’t have 750 Million people on your social network overnight.

When a new product comes out in the very fast paced world of online services, it is dangerous to say too much too soon. You just have to wait and see.

(Source: Medical Marketing and Media, Communications Media Inc.)

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  1. Social Media – Obsessed With Numbers Of Users « h2onlinehu

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