Advertising Clinical Trials on Facebook: Do's and Don'ts

Facebook has 2 billion daily users, making it one of the most effective ways to share clinical trial opportunities with patients. But the platform isn't always intuitive, and small mistakes can lead your ads to be rejected, or reach the wrong audience.

Follow these do's and don'ts to ensure that your clinical trial advertising on Facebook connects with the right patients, while following Facebook's rules, too.

Don't: Refer to personal attributes in your Facebook ads.

One of the challenges of advertising clinical trials is to create effective materials while staying within FDA guidelines. In addition to those rules, Facebook has its own requirements on how you can and can't speak to your audience on the platform. The platform doesn't allow advertisers to directly address the "personal attributes" of users. For example, while your ad may say, "An asthma clinical trial is looking for volunteers," it may not say, "Do you have asthma?" If you violate this rule, Facebook will reject your ads.

Don't: Test multiple variables at the same time.

Throughout your campaign, it's important to test various copy options and images to find what works best. But be careful to only test one factor at a time – otherwise, you can't tell which element helped your ad perform better. For example, test the same ad copy with different images, or different ad copy with the same image. To run the clearest tests, consider only swapping out one element of your ad, such as the headline, and leaving the rest the same. Facebook has a tool for running A/B tests according to different copy options as well as different audience segments to find your best-performing ads and targeting.

Do: Monitor your comments.

As your ads may reach a large audience, it's important to monitor comments for spam and misleading information. It's also helpful to read comments to understand whether there are common questions or confusions related to your ad copy. If you notice a trend, and the ad isn't performing well otherwise, you can consider turning off the ad and using different copy that addresses patient questions.

The sponsor running the trial may ask your site how comments on Facebook and other channels will be handled. You might be asked for sample responses to certain categories of questions. In general, you may direct questions related to the trial to the study page, if you have one. Some questions may need to be escalated to the sponsor, as well.

Do: Create lookalike audiences when you can.

One powerful way to find the right patients is to use a lookalike audience. Facebook allows advertisers to upload a list of email addresses to the platform in order to create an audience of users who are similar in demographics and interests to those contacts. If you have a database of patient email addresses for the condition you're targeting, creating a lookalike audience can be a powerful tool.

Don't: Set it and forget it.

As you're running tests in the beginning of your campaign, you'll probably choose the winning ad based on how many clicks it receives. As your campaign moves forward, you'll start to collect more data related to how those clicks translated into visits to your site, acceptances into your trial, and randomizations. You may notice later in your campaign that an ad that receives a lot of clicks may not necessarily bring in qualified and interested patients. Continue to adjust your ads throughout your campaign.

Looking for more advice on setting up your trial? Download our clinical trial patient recruitment template to start planning.