Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Digital Ads Offer Cost-Effective Strategy for Engaging Users About Early Psychosis

Using digital advertising is a successful and cost-effective strategy to engage individuals who are searching for mental health information online, reports a study published Monday in Psychiatric Services in Advance.

A team at the Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y., employed Google AdWords—clickable ads that appear when online searches match selected keywords—to raise awareness about early psychosis and encourage people to contact their local intervention clinic. 

“Although advertisers have long used the Internet to target consumers directly beyond the capabilities of traditional media, limited efforts have focused specifically on applying available technology to target and identify help-seeking individuals in real time and refer them to appropriate resources,” Michael Birnbaum, M.D., and colleagues wrote. 

Birnbaum and colleagues selected more than 2,000 keywords across 15 psychosis-related themes. General terms such as “psychosis,” as well as more specific terms such as “hearing voices” and “mind control,” were included to target both individuals searching for information for themselves and persons searching on behalf of a loved one. They next created 154 ads consisting of a headline related to the user’s search, description line, and call to action. The ads linked to a dedicated landing page that offered links to Northwell Health’s Early Treatment Program (ETP); an online form for submitting questions to ETP staff; and the Prodromal Questionnaire–Brief (PQ-B), an evidence-based screening tool that visitors to the page could use to assess psychosis risk. Google analytics were used to record Web site engagement. 

The digital campaign ran for 14 weeks and cost $1,427. During the campaign period, the early intervention ads appeared 191,313 times and received 4,350 clicks (2.3% click rate), resulting in an average cost of 33 cents per click. Once on the landing page, 44% (1,918) of users obtained psychosis-specific informational materials, 15% (671) completed an online psychosis self-screener, and 1% (57) contacted the ETP, which translates to $25 spent per desired outcome.

Compared with the industry average among health and medical campaigns, this project had favorable outcomes in terms of click rate (2.3% versus 1.8%), cost per click (33 cents versus $3.17) and cost per outcome ($25 versus $126.29), the authors reported.

“It is possible that the leap between searching for information online and making contact with a clinical team is too big for many individuals as an initial step,” Birnbaum and colleagues wrote. “Intermediate steps toward treatment in the form of digital engagement tools would also allow researchers to learn more about what users are seeking and why, as well as the barriers they face in considering treatment for psychosis.”

To read more about early psychosis intervention, see the Psychiatric News article “Early Identification of People With Psychosis Linked to Educating Outpatient Providers.”

(Image: iStock/izusek)


The content of Psychiatric News does not necessarily reflect the views of APA or the editors. Unless so stated, neither Psychiatric News nor APA guarantees, warrants, or endorses information or advertising in this newspaper. Clinical opinions are not peer reviewed and thus should be independently verified.