5 Clinical Trial Advertising Predictions for 2019

As a regulated industry, clinical trial advertising trends may not change at the rapid rate that other areas are able to transform. However, that doesn’t mean that digital trends won’t shake up the clinical research industry in 2019. We’ve gathered together our top predictions for how clinical trial opportunities will be shared with patients in new ways next year.

Like always, it is critical to reach patients where they are and speak their language. While that will never change, the details of how recruitment companies connect with patients gets more creative every year. Here is what we’re seeing "come down the pipeline."


The patient voice will take on a new meaning as more ads arrive on smart speakers.

Smart speakers like Alexa and Google Home are growing in popularity. Though the technology has only existed for a few years, 7% of households already have a smart speaker.

smart speaker

While customers report that they initially bought the technology for listening to audio, most people now also use them to ask about the weather or do a little shopping. For now, tapping into voice search for advertising could involve placing ads on popular podcasts, but in the near future, we predict that you will be able to place audio ads through other apps on these devices, in the style of traditional radio spots.

We will see more chat bots conversing with patients.

In order for a patient to enroll in a clinical trial, there are several steps that have to be taken before reaching a clinical research site. Chat bots can help guide patients toward taking the next step after clicking on an advertisement online for a trial opportunity. For example, a bot may be programmed to ask about which site locations would be most convenient, or ask pre-screening questions. Experts predict the chat bot market to grow at a rate of 25% in the next year, so get ready for more conversations with robots in 2019!

Social media “micro-influencers” will get involved in patient recruitment efforts.

One interesting trend we saw this year in pharma marketing was the rise of patient “micro-influencers.” Pharma and media companies are reaching out to patients with moderate followings to help promote their already-approved treatments. Like other social media influencers, these individuals are typically paid for their posts, but some have also been invited to talk on patient panels hosted by pharmaceutical companies, STAT News reported.


We predict that in 2019, this trend will carry over into the patient recruitment space. Hearing from patients who have participated in trials in the past can help build trust with potential participants. Even if a patient hasn’t participated, a seal of approval from a well-known member of a community can be powerful.

Video will continue to play a growing role.

In many industries, live video has become an important marketing tool. Because of the regulated nature of clinical trial advertising, however, chances are high that the use of live video will continue to be limited. However, while live video may be off-limits, the availability of easy-to-use video tools will drive an increase in video advertising for trials.

Advertisers will explore alternatives to Facebook.

While Facebook remains the most popular social network in the world, controversy and privacy concerns may finally take its toll on the company’s user base. Facebook’s user base in Europe has already taken a plunge, and experts predict the U.S. will be next. As a result, clinical trial advertisers may focus more on paid search ads or placements on other platforms in order to reach patients through channels besides Facebook.


Regardless of what the future holds, clinical trial advertising will continue to reach patients interested in taking part and moving research forward. Here’s to research progress in 2019!



Patient recruitment can be a very expensive endeavor. Watch the recording of our webinar for tips on how to "make cents" of your recruitment budget:

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Nancy Ryerson

Post by Nancy Ryerson -

Nancy Ryerson is a digital communicator with experience in content, marketing, and social media in the healthcare space. She currently writes for clinical researchers and patients at Antidote, a digital health startup that connects patients to research through an innovative clinical trial search tool. Prior to joining Antidote, she spent three years at The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, where she communicated research updates and clinical trial opportunities to the Foundation’s social media community of 750,000+ followers.

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