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How to Market In Addiction After Google Took Away Adwords

What the Adwords Change Means and Next Steps

In a move that has hurt a lot of the larger national centers and lead generation companies, Google started removing all paid opportunities for selected queries in September.  Consequently, terms like “Drug Detox” no longer show any paid results, just true local results.

Google issued a statement on the topic saying, “We found a number of misleading experiences among rehabilitation treatment centers that led to our decision, in consultation with experts, to restrict ads in this category. As always, we constantly review our policies to protect our users and provide good experiences for consumers.”

What does that mean? A large portion of search terms in Google were returning less-than-great results.  Remember, Google’s number one mandate is to provide a quality user experience.  When someone searches “Drug Rehab Center Near Me,” that person is expecting only local results.  Many companies, mainly lead generation firms, were targeting these searches by saying they were local.  Obviously, this doesn’t provide a quality experience for the users, and Google acted to protect that user experience.

Google’s Action Isn’t New

In July, 2016, Google stopped allowing Payday Loan and high interest loan companies to advertise within the search platform, saying, “Today we’re sharing an update that will go into effect on July 13, 2016: we’re banning ads for payday loans and some related products from our ads systems. We will no longer allow ads for loans where repayment is due within 60 days of the date of issue.

In the U.S., we are also banning ads for loans with an APR of 36% or higher. When reviewing our policies, research has shown that these loans can result in unaffordable payment and high default rates for users so we will be updating our policies globally to reflect that.”

Interestingly enough, this change didn’t change Google’s bottom line.  Although they were estimating a loss in the millions each month, it wasn’t an outright ban.  This is similar to the change in the addiction space, which isn’t a ban, but more of a clean-up to ensure the consumers are protected.

Moving Forward with Adwords: What to Expect

Taking you back to Economics 101, the results of the Google’s changes to Adwords in the rehab space can be illustrated with simple supply and demand.  The supply of Adword opportunities decreased by 40 to 60 percent, while demand continues to increase each month.  The estimated spend each month in Adwords was roughly $3MM.  This means that all the larger and smaller players were able to operate with a cost per click between $14 and $80 prior to September’s changes.  Now, with the decrease in supply, all advertisers should expect costs to double if not triple as valuable keywords are identified.

What Are Your Next Steps

It is time to take your SEO seriously.  Before you outright dismiss SEO once again, consider the centers that invested in SEO. Centers whose marketing directors were dependent on non-local Adwords to generate leads have taken a huge blow in light of the Adwords changes. Centers with a strong organic presence still hold top positions for search terms like “rehab center near me.” Their SEO-generated organic rankings - and more importantly, the leads generated by rankings - are unphased.

Google will always show local results for local searches organically; that is the search engine’s core purpose.  For those of you who have yet to invest in organic search, it is not too late.  It takes four to six months to achieve basic results, so start now and see the payoff in early 2018.

For those of you who have been investing in SEO, congratulations! Your investment should pay very large dividends now that national brands can’t enter your area as easily.  Keep working on your SEO to ensure long-lasting success.

The second major player is display advertising. Display advertising is now your best bet to entice potential clients to add your center to their short list.  However, don’t spend your money on just anything.  Get targeted on what ads you are showing and where you place them.  Here are a few of our offerings that are driving a lot of traffic to our clients’ sites and increasing conversions.

Tactic 1: Content Marketing

Our content marketing team builds out content that will entice people who are looking for treatment or are in the early stages of their search.  We then promote this content all over the web to generate clicks to your site and tag them as a possible client to be retargeted later across the web.

Tactic 2: Action Triggered Targeting

Over the years, we have been able to identify actions that indicate an individual may be seeking help or help for a loved one. We use this data to showcase your center to them and add your brand to the conversation.

Tactic 3: Retargeting

Retargeting is the act of targeting any and all visitors to your site, based on the page they visited.  You serve specific advertisements to those who visit specific pages, showcasing your center’s best side based on what they are looking for.

Tactic 4: Television Ads

Yes, you read that right; we have found TV ads to be effective when done properly. One major failure of drug rehab marketing agencies is spending their clients’ money on unbranded advertisements. The name of the game has always been getting your actual center and brand in front of those searching for treatment.  As lead generation companies have an increasingly difficult time due to the Florida Laws beginning to expand across the country, your opportunity is now.

There are two types of television buys centers can make.  The first is a standard cash buy.  This is buying the stations and times you want.  You will see this during daytime television.  The second is using the new online platforms available to you.  Hulu, Sling, and Cable Provider on demand services still show commercials during their programing.

Digital commercials can be run based on many things, however, we only use this opportunity to target those who have already shown interest.  If a user is shown an ad or visits your website, we can then target that individual with TV commercials on their mobile, tablet, desktop, Apple TV, and other devices.

The Drug Rehab Agency is available to help you put together a custom digital and TV/Radio marketing strategy if this is what you are looking for.  We have 7 years’ experience perfecting the tactics of effective digital marketing that is agile, multifaceted and responsive, even in the face of major industry change like Google’s Adwords revisions.  And combined experience of over 10 years buying media for clients on the TV and radio side. Give us a call to set a meeting to learn more about this opportunity.