Should Pharma Advertisers Use Redirect URLs in Search Engine Ads?

(Survey started 14 May 2010; ended 7 June 2010; N=23 respondents; restarted 7 November 2012)

This survey solicits reader opinion on pharma advertiser use of redirect URLs in paid search engine ads. Preliminary Results are presented below.

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Your comments are confidential (anonymous) unless you specifically provide your contact information at the end of the survey and allow us to attribute comments to you personally.

See Resources & Further Reading below…

Background Google’s Adword (paid search ad) editorial policy states that “Your display URL must accurately reflect the landing page URL of the website you’re advertising. It should match the domain of your landing page so that users will know which site they’ll be taken to when they click on your ad.”

However, Google and other search engines, give pharmaceutical advertisers and their agents an exception to this rule and allow them to use display URLs such as instead of, which is where the consumer is sent when he or she clicks on the ad (see examples below).

This survey asks your opinion of this practice. It asks specifically to indicate your level of agreement/disagreement with the following statements about Pharma’s use of paid search engine ads:

  • Regardless of search engine rules that may allow pharma advertisers to use redirect URLs (“vanity URLs”), pharma should ONLY use display URLs in ads that ACCURATELY reflect the landing page URLs of the websites being advertised (ie, pharma should obey the rules established for all other advertisers).
  • Pharma advertisers should be allowed an exception to search engine rules regarding redirect URLs because FDA regulations prevent them from displaying a drug brand name in short ads, even when the brand name is only part of the display URL.
  • Redirect URLs should NEVER be used by pharma advertisers because they mislead the consumer into believing that the links will take them to independent disease information websites, not branded drug sites.

Survey Results:

Preliminary results are summarized in the chart below. You can view a more detailed, complete and up-to-date online Summary of Responses after taking the survey yourself: here.

Redirect URL Chart

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Resources & Further Reading:

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