Advertising On Health Websites

Mayo Clinic’s recent decision to include paid advertisements on its website stirred up a heated debate. As the face of healthcare social media and effective patient education for a long time Mayo Clinic received a lot of criticism for its bold move to venture into the field of featuring ads next to important health-related issues.

I personally think in an economic climate like today’s no one can really argue with a financially smart decision if it is rightly done. Which means that in my opinion paid advertisements can have a place next to health information without taking away credibility and reliability. Unless they are placed poorly. And that is where Mayo Clinic made a mistake. Mark Schaefer, marketing consultant and author took to his blog to express his disbelief and disappointment about ads trying to sell children’s clothes next to an article about a condition during pregnancy that in most cases results in the death of the unborn child.

Here is a word I rarely use on my my blog: Stupid.  But I think it is an unavoidable description when an organization sells the soul of their brand for a few advertising dollars with a mindless strategy of advertising children’s clothes to women who have just lost their child.

I think the question is: was the placement of the ad intentional? I hardly think so. This is an organization that is involved in treating patients, conducting research, launching healthcare start-apps, using social media for better patient education and communication and operating a major platform for publishing reliable health-related content. I think by now they are aware of the sensitive nature of the different topics they are discussing.

I also think it is a case of not paying attention to detail and not making sure the content and the ads on the site are in sync. Placing ads can mean major funds for a website. Misplaced ads can mean angry and disappointed readers that have all the right to feel that way. And while a lot of times advertising agreements are a little loose when it comes to the content of the ads, a website specializing in healthcare content has to make sure to monitor and influence the ads appearing on the portal.


“Connect With Others Who’ve Been There” – Mayo Clinic Launches Online Health Community

Mayo Clinic has always been an innovator in the field of healthcare social media. With clear guidelines set up (and not waiting for the FDA to publish one) the medical mogul built a strong following on Facebook, Twitter and made providing patient-centered health information a top priority. Creating a center for social media acknowledged the importance of these channels. The Mayo Clinic also led by example maintaining a strong online presence even in times of a social media crisis.

Now the organization  is taking the next step ahead to assure its leading position in health related social media. It launched a social network for patients where people with similar symptoms can connect and share their experiences. Here is what the Mayo Clinic posted about the new online patient community:

When you’re facing a health concern, sometimes, what you really need is someone who has already been there. That’s what this community is all about: connecting people who have been through the Mayo Clinic experience with others facing a similar health concern.

So how is the new platform different from previous patient communities or forums? Well for one, it kind of looks like Facebook. A very patient-centered Facebook. Even the expressions are the same. “Mr. X posted on his profile” and “Y commented on X’s post” or “X and Y are now friends.” Sounds familiar, right? Patients can also start discussions on the site or comment on videos. Both features can be found on Facebook.

Aside from not being too creative with the possible user activities on the platform I think Mayo Clinic’s personalized patient social network once again proves that the organization is one step ahead of other healthcare providers when it comes to serve patients with social experience.

What do you think of Mayo Clinic’s online health community? Share your thoughts below!

(Source: Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media)