Sonar: Adwords Patient Recruiting

The possibilities are endless


Clinical trial recruitment is one of the main sectors that have started to implement various technological advancements. Researchers experiment with recruitment methods and invest a lot in participants, as a huge percentage of studies experience delays or fail due to poor recruitment (“A paradigm shift in patient recruitment for clinical trials,” 2017).


In fact, digital recruiting is becoming one of the most effective methods for clinical trial recruitment. What’s more, digital recruiting is outpacing traditional methods, such as newspapers, radio ads, and fliers (Gross et al., 2014). Google and its numerous services have revolutionized today’s society. To be more precise, Google AdWords is one of the most popular methods to recruit motivated and eligible participants online.


But what’s Google AdWords? Google AdWords can be defined as the placement of sponsored links in Google searches. Researchers can simply purchase links that users can see – only when certain keywords are used, which can increase the size of the sample and improve the inclusion criteria (Jones et al., 2012).

Clinical Trial Recruitment: Why Google Adwords?


One of the main reasons to use Google Adwords in clinical trial recruitment is that Google AdWords is a powerful marketing tool. As a recruitment method, Google AdWords is a convenient, fast, cost-effective, efficient, and most of all, popular advertising system. Researchers can benefit from the mind-blowing audience Google offers.


Google can help researchers reach eligible and diverse samples – simply by implementing Google Adwords in their recruitment methods. Although in some countries, such as Russia and China, Google is not the main search engine, Google AdWords still leads to better results in clinical trial recruitment. For instance, scientific findings show that Google AdWords can facilitate recruitment among Russian, Spanish, and Chinese speakers (Gross et al., 2014). Experts claim that results are even more impressive when research campaigns are monitored. When ads are monitored, the total number of impressions clicks, and enrolled participants increases, while the costs of the study decrease. For instance, a study showed that managed Google AdWords led to an increase in clicks of 34.82% (Gross et al., 2014).


Google AdWords has been approved as a recruiting tool that follows crucial ethical and privacy regulations (“Google AdWords & Clinical Trial recruitment”). As that’s one of the main milestones in research, all professionals need to consider consent forms, safety, and confidentiality.



Google offers a variety of products, such as Google Drive, Maps, and Gmail, for free because its huge advertising platform pays off. As Google AdWords is Google’s advertising system, businesses can advertise openly and bid on certain words.


What’s more, it’s been proven that digital recruiting and Google AdWords, in particular, are cost-effective. When compared to standard methods, such as boards in clinics and radio ads, digital recruiting offers better results for a lower cost.


In research, Google AdWords can help experts target specific keywords, geographical areas, and diverse samples (Gross et al., 2014). However, note that due to the competitive nature of Google AdWords, popular markets, such as the English-speaking space, need higher expenditures. Thus, multilingual research can take advantage of the wide spectrum of languages throughout the world. Most of all, when researchers design a medical ad, they should consider various factors, such as cultural differences.



As mentioned above, Google AdWords is an advertising platform that gives researchers the chance to target specific groups and samples. For instance, researchers can specify the desired location. Geographical targeting can give some valuable insights to researchers, and as a result, location-targeted online advertising can benefit science.


Although there might be some data contamination and minimal levels of information leakage, figures show that Google AdWords is still an efficient and cost-effective method. A strategy to resolve any location-related issues (that might occur due to contamination) is combining Google Analytics with self-reports with postcodes entered by the actual participants. On top of that, when it comes to geographical targeting, researchers suggest running separate campaigns for different areas. This practice can help researchers monitor ads easily (with the smallest radius available in urban places). When location is combined with personal information and health-related interests, research can easily lead to success.



Perhaps one of the most appealing aspects of Google Adwords is that the system can help you take research under control. Usually, Google AdWords offers two options: unmanaged clinical trial recruitment and managed recruitment. By managing campaigns, deleting underperforming ads, and adjusting keywords, researchers can manage to increase the number of participants (Gross et al., 2014).


What’s more, researchers can control the costs of their studies. As Google AdWords runs actions for ad space, experts can decide on their bids. Note that costs are calculated based on clicks, not actions.


In fact, a very effective method to track the success of each campaign is period analysis, which is one of the many helpful features of Google Analytics. By comparing metrics, you can get valuable insights and transform them into action and real ROI.


Google AdWords: A Key to Success

Find the Key

Also, when one implements Google AdWords in their recruiting plan, they should work on finding the best keywords. As mentioned above, the English-speaking market is full of ads and competition is challenging. In fact, some keywords searches can become an obstacle. For instance, ‘depression’ is one of the many overused keywords, employed by advertisers worldwide (Gross et al., 2014). To help researchers, Google AdWords offers alternative keywords that are similar and more likely to generate interest. This is a Google AdWords function based on its own algorithms. While it’s true that there are some limitations on the number of characters that are allowed, using alternative keywords can improve recruitment. Let’s look at ‘depression’ again: ‘depression test,’ ‘psychological test,’ and even ‘anxiety’ can do well. On the other hand, for another popular keyword ‘IBS,’ ‘IBS constipation’ and ‘constipated IBS’ can improve searches (“Google AdWords & Clinical Trial Recruitment”).


Increase Response Rate

Let’s not forget that Google AdWords can help researchers raise awareness. By targeting various populations, deciding on bids, and implementing crucial keywords, your word can reach more and more people. Thus, the number of potentially interested participants also increases. Usually, impressions (every time an ad is displayed) are free, but the visibility of the actual ad is affected by the total amount an advertiser can pay per click. Note that ads that are displayed first are more likely to be clicked.

While traditional methods rely on mass recruitment, which often leads to a low response rate, or on self-reports, which causes delays, Google AdWord reaches eligible and motivated people in real-time. In fact, data shows that Google AdWords recruitment campaigns lead to an increase of 8 % response rate. Google AdWords can help researchers reach people who are searching for a medical solution now.

Implement Google AdWords

The researchers have to acknowledge a crucial shift in perspectives: patients today are proactive and empowered, not passive observers or lab mice. They can refuse treatment or ask for advice. Interestingly enough, approximately 43% of users say they use the Internet to get crucial information. In comparison, only 14% of people still use practitioners as a primary source of information.


Nevertheless, Google AdWords is a method that gives you the chance to implement engaging ads and bring motivated participants. Choosing the right keywords and inclusion criteria, such as location, is crucial. Note that Google AdWords is a recruiting method that’s less intrusive when compared to other techniques. Instead of pushing ads, Google waits for people to search and then ‘pull’ an ad. In fact, a study conducted at the Vein Center at Muto Surgical showed that active keyword targeting led to a greater effect of attracting new patients for free vein screening. As a result, the ROI exceeded 10 times the initial funding (“The Medical Marketer’s Guide to Google Advertising”).


However, that’s not everything that researchers need. When you use Google AdWords, do not forget to consider and plan your landing page. An appealing page that describes your study and lacks unnecessary wording is a must. For instance, experts suggest that the headline of your page should be similar to your campaign in order to eliminate any confusion. Also, promote your study: describe why you’re better than your competitors and aim for long-term relationships. Note that 75% of consumers say that awards or certificates of credibility displayed on websites are important to them. That’s even crucial for health-related topics and scientific organizations. What’s more, make the call-to-action buttons simple to find and use. Simply because this can only facilitate enrollment.


Last but not the least, researchers should consider the fact that many adults use smartphones. In fact, 62% of people in America report using their mobile devices for health-related searches. Thus, mobile apps should become a priority, which is a feature that ConductScience Digital Health has implemented thoughtfully.


In a world where people rely on the Internet to find health-related information, online treatment, and mHealth apps, digital clinical trial recruitment is becoming a priority. Simply because Google AdWords and social media channels, such as Facebook, can improve research and benefit patients. There’s no doubt that Google AdWords is a beneficial recruiting method for research and clinical trials. Don’t you trust us? Then Google it!


  1. Gross, M., Liu, N., Contreras, O., & Leykin, Y. (2014). Using Google AdWords for International Multilingual Recruitment to Health Research Websites. Journal of Medical Internet Research.
  2. Jones, R., Goldsmith, L., Williams, C., & Boulos, M. (2012). Accuracy of Geographically Targeted Internet Advertisements on Google Adwords for Recruitment in a Randomized TrialJournal of Medical Internet Research.
  3. A paradigm shift in patient recruitment for clinical trials. (2017, January). Retrieved from;.aspx;/
  4. Google AdWords & Clinical Trial Recruitment. Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/Owner/Downloads/google-adwords-clinical-trial-recruitment.pdf.
  5. The Medical Marketer’s Guide to Google Advertising. Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/Owner/Downloads/MMG-Google%20Advertising.pdf.

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