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2021-11-12

Where biotech is forgetting the science

Isabel Williams
Written By
Isabel Williams
Where biotech is forgetting the science
Artwork by Louise Pau and Simon Tyler

Your social media ads are reaching investors and industry influencers, but they can all go to waste when your ad isn’t properly designed. But don’t fret, that’s why we have A/B testing.

In the direct-to-consumer (DTC) brand space, images and text are methodically tested to see if the performance of one variable produces a better result. The difference in one variable might create hundreds of thousands of $ difference in the shopping cart. This process also lets them collect data along the way, which can alter future ad campaigns.

While these tests are common among many different industries, biotech hasn’t engaged with this in the past. In the February 2021 CMO survey results, in which hundreds of CMOs fill out an extensive survey on their company’s marketing habits, 0 of the 3 pharma/biotech CMOs selected “Online experimentation and/or A/B testing” as a sector in which their company was investing. 6 of the 19 (31%) healthcare CMOs selected this option.  

We ran our own ads to showcase why you can’t cut corners and assume outcomes. Our ad was a poll on Instagram stories. The question was “Will you get genetic testing if you have a strong family history of cancer” and then “Yes” or “No” options. The only difference between the two ads we ran was that one had a DNA strand in a 2D style, while the other was in a 3D style. Our hypothesis was that the 2D graphic would be understandable to the average, non-scientific person, so they would be more likely to respond “Yes”.

Our results showed something unexpected. The graphic style had minimal impact on how people voted: 63% yes for 2D, 64% yes for 3D.

However, what we found was that the 3D ad elicited a response rate 20% higher than the 2D ad.

Meaning more people decided to respond to the ad with the 3D graphic. We also found that ad recall, which is the number of people who will recall your ad within 2 days of seeing it on social media, was 20% higher for the 3D ad than the 2D ad. This means that the 3D ad was able to collect more data for the same price as the 2D ad, as well as leave a longer impression on viewers.

(2D graphic ad is on the top, 3D graphic ad is on the bottom)


While we can’t say why the 3D graphic was more memorable or evoked more votes, what we do know is that if we were to run this ad with millions of dollars behind it, we’d use the 3D DNA strand.