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March 30, 2022 - By Hawke Media

The Challenges of Paid Media in Healthcare Marketing

Healthcare marketers face the same challenges as do marketers in other industries. This is usually around keywords — keywords that are usually either very expensive or very difficult to rank for. However, focusing solely on paid search, there are several factors that make healthcare marketing unique. 

To successfully use paid search to grow a healthcare business, whether it’s a drug, clinic, dispensary, medical spa, home healthcare service, or even B2B medical equipment vendor, it’s important to  understand the challenges faced by marketers in the healthcare industry — especially working with Google.

Sensitive Information and Language Restrictions

While medical information is extremely sensitive, thanks to privacy laws like HIPAA, healthcare marketing is restricted in that Google has its own set of sensitive language that, once detected, can trigger automatic disapproval of an ad. Keywords like “drug” and “prescription” can automatically disqualify an ad, and even the use of certain branded drug names.

As with financial ads promising returns, ads promising a cure are also out of the question. Therefore, healthcare marketers need to be clever, creative, and flexible when designing campaigns.


About 7% of Google searches are health-related, translating to about 1 billion health-related questions per day. This just proves how competitive the field of healthcare is within paid search; and Google knows this and continues to make improvements to the SERPs so that ads are displayed when they’re most relevant. Whether it’s consumers wondering about their symptoms, a family member seeking a local home health aide for a loved one, or buyers at hospitals searching for equipment and supplies, there is a lot of competition. Keywords can be very expensive, and marketers will need to focus on the long tail. 

No Retargeting or Remarketing Allowed

This is probably one of the most significant challenges that healthcare marketers face nowadays. Recently, Google adjusted its policies to no longer allow healthcare marketers to use remarketing tactics. This is ordinarily one of the most effective ways to keep leads engaged during a longer sales cycle, which healthcare services typically have (with the exception of emergency care). 

Final Thoughts

In light of all these challenges, it’s still important for healthcare professionals to gain exposure and grow their business through paid search. 

To make sure your ads run properly, and to have more control over your marketing spend, work with an agency with an established relationship with Google and other platforms. Hawke Media has the authority to get ads back up and running, which healthcare companies might find challenging to do on their own. 

Get a free consultation from Hawke Media


Jake Wengroff writes about technology and financial services. A former technology reporter for CBS Radio, he covers such topics as security, mobility, ecommerce, and the Internet of Things.