Physicians Most Likely to Reach Health-Related Content through Natural Search and Direct Navigation

*comScore Releases Second in a Series of Reports on Physicians’ Online Behaviors from its comScore/ImpactRx Physician Behavioral Measurement™ Solution* 

RESTON, VA and MT. LAUREL, NJ, March 2, 2011 – comScore, Inc., a leader in measuring the digital world, and ImpactRx, a pharmaceutical insights company, today released the second in a series of public reports from the comScore/ImpactRx Physician Behavioral Measurement™ Solution, the only opt-in digital measurement solution that ties actual physicians’ online behavior to their prescription writing activities – all using an anonymized methodology. The report found that across all health-related categories, the majority of physicians’ visits were driven primarily by direct, non-referred access and natural search, pointing to the importance of building brand awareness and effective SEO strategies in order to reach physicians online. 

“Reaching physicians online is critically important for the health industry,” said John Mangano, comScore vice president of health marketing solutions. “By observing physicians’ actual online behaviors, we are able to understand the inherent differences in how physicians research health content compared to patients. This unique insight into physicians’ browsing preferences represents vital information for any marketer looking to communicate with physicians.” 

Physicians Likely to Utilize Natural Search and Direct Access to Reach Majority of Health Content  

Analysis from the comScore/ImpactRx Physician Behavioral Measurement™ Solution revealed that sources of physician traffic varied across site content categories. Among the behavioral results were:

  • Media, text and link referred traffic (such as banner or text ads) accounted for the largest share of physician traffic to Health & Wellness sites at 40 percent.
  • Paid search referred visits represented a relatively small percentage of physicians’ overall traffic to health-related sites. Of all health-related sub-categories, Pharmaceutical sites saw the largest percentage of visits originating from paid search at just 7 percent.
  • More than half of physicians that visited Physician Locator and General Health Content sites arrived through natural (organic) search results.
  • Non-referred visits (which include traffic originating from bookmarks or directly accessing the site via URL address) accounted for the majority of physicians’ traffic across many site categories including Pharmacy Services (73 percent), Pharma Support (67 percent) and Clinic Sites (59 percent).
  • Network referred visits (traffic referred by ad networks involving push or interference) accounted for 15 percent of physicians’ traffic to Social Media sites and 10 percent of Health-related Insurance sites.
Source of Physician Visits for Health-Related Categories
Q3 2010
Total U.S. Home/Work/University Locations
Source: comScore, Inc.
  Percent of Physician Visits by Source
Paid Search Referred Natural Search Referred Non-Referred Network Referred Media, Text or Link Referred
Physician Locator 4% 71% 8% 1% 16%
General Health Content 3% 59% 8% 2% 26%
Government 0% 45% 26% 2% 26%
Medical Journal 0% 31% 29% 5% 36%
Pharmaceuticals 7% 28% 30% 7% 28%
Health & Wellness 2% 19% 33% 6% 40%
Association 1% 31% 36% 6% 26%
Social Media 0% 4% 46% 15% 35%
Insurance 1% 19% 50% 10% 19%
HCP Content 0% 8% 55% 8% 28%
Clinic 0% 16% 59% 4% 21%
Pharma Support 0% 4% 67% 7% 22%
Pharmacy Services 0% 3% 73% 6% 18%

Natural Search Continues to Drive Majority of Search-Referred Physician Visits  

Deeper analysis of the role of paid and natural search in physicians’ online behaviors revealed that, among all health-related content categories, natural search accounted for the large majority of search-referred visits. Pharmaceutical sites had the highest share of paid search referrals among physicians with 20 percent of search-referred traffic originating from this source, indicating the continued competition among pharmaceutical brands in this space. Health & Wellness sites also sourced significant traffic from paid search referrals with 12 percent of search-referred traffic arriving through this method. Paid search referrals were virtually nonexistent in Government, Medical Journal, Pharma Support and Social Media categories. 

Distribution of Search-Referred Visits
Q3 2010
Total U.S. Home/Work/University Locations
Source: comScore, Inc.
  Percent of Search Referred Visits
Paid Search Natural Search
Pharmaceuticals 20% 80%
Health & Wellness 12% 88%
Physician Locator 5% 95%
General Health Content 5% 95%
Pharmacy Services 5% 95%
Insurance 5% 95%
HCP Content 2% 98%
Association 2% 98%
Clinic 1% 99%
Government 0% 100%
Medical Journal 0% 100%
Pharma Support 0% 100%
Social Media 0% 100%

“Physicians have very different browsing behaviors than patients when it comes to accessing health information online, as they generally begin a session with a clearer picture of what they’re trying to achieve,” added Mangano. “Understanding the clear picture of their distinct browsing patterns can provide marketers with the insights they need to ensure they’re pulling the appropriate marketing levers when their target audience is health care professionals.” 

The comScore/ImpactRx Physician Behavior Measurement™ Solution contains a panel of 1,000 physicians which have opted-in to have their Internet activity measured to identify trends in their online behavior. No HIPAA or personally identifiable information is collected and all results are aggregated in the final analysis. 

For more information on the comScore/ImpactRx Physician Behavioral Measurement™ Solution, please contact:  

About ImpactRx  

Founded in October 2000, ImpactRx’s physician networks are the source of an unprecedented intelligence capability for tracking the promotional initiatives of the pharmaceutical industry and for measuring their impact on physician prescribing behavior. Based in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, ImpactRx is a private company with investment financing provided by Mediphase Venture Partners (, Oxford Bioscience Partners (, Merck Capital Ventures ( and Omega Funds. 

About comScore Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Solutions 

comScore Pharmaceutical Solutions delivers in-depth information needed to understand the impact that brand, condition-specific, and health Web sites have on consumers’ brand awareness, conversion, and patient compliance as well as insights into health care professionals’ online usage. comScore’s products deliver actionable insight to help refine consumer profiles, identify key alliances, optimize interactive marketing initiatives, benchmark against the competition and accurately measure the ROI of Web site and online marketing programs. For more information, please visit: 

*Source: comScore

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