How to Adjust to Google’s New Stem Cell Policy
If What They Banned Was Your Business, You Still Have Options
On September 6, 2019, Google announced a new Healthcare and medicines policy that disallowed advertising for “unproven or experimental medical techniques such as most stem cell therapy, cellular (non-stem) therapy, and gene therapy”.
Google says that although they know there are trustworthy stem cell groups doing good work and making important medical progress, there are too many “bad actors” who are deceiving users and endangering the public health for them to allow advertising for treatments that have not undergone sufficient clinical trials.Their stance is that this is supported by experts in the field, and that they will evaluate and update their policies as new regulations and findings are established in the field of stem cell science.
Google’s announcement was sudden, and triggered dismay among many stem-cell groups who spend a majority of their marketing budget on stem cell advertising. Now, Google will allow advertising for research related to clinical trials, so if you are a stem-cell group that has or that is pursuing an IND, you may still be able to continue normal campaigns.
If you do not have an IND, this puts your business in a tough spot. However, there still may be ways that you can still put your product in front of consumers.
**Disclaimer – Empirical360 does not support any businesses that make false or deceptive claims, particularly when it comes to medical marketing. This blog post was written for groups that operate based on proven medical techniques that are in the best interest of patients and are looking to not lose the opportunity to advertise.
Microsoft Ads has not yet banned stem cell advertising. This is initially comforting; you can take any campaigns you were running in Google, duplicate them, and begin running them on Microsoft (Bing). While you might get less traffic, it will be cheaper, and you can allocate your budget in such a way to get similar results. However, we know from historical trends that Microsoft almost always follows Google’s lead, so we do not expect that they will turn a blind eye to this update for long.
Facebook and its associated social platforms have also not banned stem cell advertising (yet). While social media marketing functions and performs completely differently than PPC, you can still determine specific audience targeting and engage users with content that encourages them to visit your website.
You can also rework your ad copy or campaign language to avoid banned keywords (stem cell treatment, stem cell therapy, etc.). Consider using “regenerative medicine” or even just “therapy” (with no mention of stem cells or genes) associated with the conditions you treat.
Another option is for you to set up a microsite under a different domain where no stem cell language is used. This ensures that you can still advertise for other treatments you offer, and will not be penalized for it by Google. It doesn’t help you advertise for stem cells, but it does help you stay profitable so long as you have other services you can promote.
Note that even if one of these options works, you will still lose traffic & revenue. Organic search is now more important than ever to everyone in the field, even for those with INDs. You should be pushing a heavy content strategy – updating your website with meta descriptions, writing blogs, filming client testimonials, and posting on social media – to guarantee that online users still have a good chance of finding you if they search for keywords relating to stem cell therapy.
Have questions regarding the specifics of Google’s policy or what this could mean for your business? Get in touch with us! Empirical360 advertises for other stem cell groups and has successfully adapted to the changes. We know what Google requires and how to advise you on the best course of marketing action.
Shea Duncan - Author
Director of Content Marketing
Shea is an expert content writer and is a classic literary nerd! She loves writing highly engaging content and has a knack for making it convert!