The Internet is awash with health sites – some 80% of American Internet users look up health issues online. As we did with our Automotive Digital Brand Exposure Index, we at Swoop wanted to look at what, exactly, people are reading about in order to get better insight into the daily health concerns of North American Internet users.
Top Health-Related Categories
To determine what people are interested in, we took the top search queries from our network of health publishers, put them into broad categories, and compared them. The numbers we look at are a reflection of how many pages about a topic are consumed, and by how many users, giving us a combination of content consumed and end-user interest. Here are the top categories getting interest:
Cancer is the most-read-about health condition, according to our data, followed by heart health, sexual health, skin conditions and cold/flu. It probably shouldn’t surprise anyone that the top two causes of death in the United States are the two most-consumed topics for health sites. We delved a little further into cancer to see what types of cancer were at the top of people’s minds:
Skin cancer (including queries for “melanoma”) is by far the most-read-about form of cancer, which is the most visible topic across our network of digital health publications. Following skin cancer is breast, ovarian and prostate.
How Does Visibility Match Up With Actual Condition Populations?
There’s always something of a disconnect between how widely-discussed something is and how many people actually come in contact with it. A prime example of this is the Zika virus – look at how interest in Mad Cow West Nile SARS H1N1 Zika spiked and swiftly disappeared over the course of a 13-week stretch of 2015, all for a disease that has infected less than three thousand Americans to date:
This is why we take visibility and compare it to the number of people actually diagnosed with said condition. This metric shows just how much interest is created by a condition versus the number of people who actually have said condition.
The result is our Visibility to Population index – the further to the right, the more visible a condition is compared to its population; the further left, the less visible, meaning lots of people suffer from it but fewer people discuss it.
As we can see, there’s much less content consumption per individual sufferer of allergies, kidney issues, asthma and GERD than would be expected. Cancer, mental health and heart health over-index on how much conversation there is per actual case.
Advertising Spend vs. Visibility
How do health advertisers and their digital investment line up with condition content consumption over a particular health category? After pulling together stats on how much major pharmaceutical advertisers spend on different categories, we were able to come up with a look – the higher the pulse is, the more digital visibility outstrips ad spend:
It’s interesting to see how dramatically sexual health dominates this particular metric. This tells us two things: one, health-care advertisers don’t invest significantly in sexual health content online; and two, sexual health is read about very much (as noted before, it’s the 3rd-most-visible health category). A significant opportunity appears to exist for digital health-care advertisers to engage a comparatively underserved audience interested in sexual health concerns.
Advertising Spend vs. Patients
So, we have seen how advertising spend matches with online visibility, and we have seen how visibility matches with actual patients. The last piece of the puzzle, obviously, is to check out how digital ad spend matches up with the number of actual patients:
Cancer, in addition to being the most-visible and most-talked-about health category, also is by far and away the category that gets the most attention per individual from advertisers. Once again, sexual health falls down at the bottom of the digital ad spend bucket – less advertising money is spent on sexual health per individual than any other health category we looked at.
Conclusion: Consistency the key
The top conditions people read about are widespread issues – cancer, heart health, influenza, etc. People will briefly read anything that comes up about flash-in-the-pan issues like Zika, but there’s a certain consistency to health issues that drive interest, and it’s health issues that affect us all, either directly or someone we know.
Top 100 Conditions
|12||Urinary Tract/Yeast Infection|
|23||Irritable Bowel Syndrome/Ibs|
|32||Pms/Pre Menstrual Syndrome|
|42||Pcos (Polycystic ovary syndrome)|
|60||Blood In Urine/Hematuria|
|98||Restless Legs Syndrome|