Accessing populations with specialized clinical needs: an illustrative case study using Google Adwords™

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Eaton, Warren O.
Kenyon, Katherine M.
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American Psychological Assocation
When seeking help for health problems, a majority of individuals now look online first. There they are confronted with millions of results and typically visit only a few toplisted websites. As a consequence, being noticed is a significant problem for psychologists who use online tools to recruit help-seeking persons to either research studies or professional practices. The salience of a psychologist’s online presence can be increased through the use pay-per-click (PPC) advertisements that, for a price, appear near the top of the search results listings. The potential of PPC advertising to recruit a clinical sample for a research survey on childhood obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD) was tested in this proof-of-concept case study using Google AdwordsTM. We created and implemented ads whose appearance on searchers screens was triggered by selected keywords that matched the content of our website landing page. Ads were displayed in 11 selected geographic locations worldwide and were aimed at parents of children with OCD. Over a 16-week campaign 183 participants completed our survey at an average cost of $27 per survey completion. Detailed keyword phrases were most effective, and geographical variation was notable. The results show that PPC advertising can be cost effective for the recruitment of participants to studies on a specialized clinical topic. Moreover, because PPC ads can be restricted to small geographic areas, online advertising may also be cost effective for making psychological services known to potential local clients.
telepractice, advertising, obsessive-compulsive disorder, OCD, children, pay-per-click, PPC, click-through, conversion, geo-location
Professional psychology: research and practice