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Sick men surf

Posted on: 07 May 02


An enterprising postgrad recently increased traffic to his very dry semiconductor physics website by posting naked shots of a young pop idol. But latest figures suggest pharmas don’t need Britney’s b
An enterprising postgrad recently increased traffic to his very dry semiconductor physics website by posting naked shots of a young pop idol. But latest figures suggest pharmas don’t need Britney’s boobs to grab men’s attention. They could try testicles… Men’s health related terms feature high up the hit lists of all the main search engines and it seems the ailing gentleman is now more likely to reach for his mouse than a bottle of Lucozade. The age of the informed patient is upon us and men in particular are increasingly switched on to the internet for health information. Traditionally seen as reticent to visit a GP, today’s man has no qualms when it comes to surfing the world wide web with a health query. In fact popular search engine Ask Jeeves has just reported a 14 percent increase in men’s health-related questions such as “What should I ask my doctor about testicular cancer?” and “Where can I find alcohol support groups?” And men’s health advocate Peter Baker, Director of Men’s Health Forum thinks this is telling of a wider trend. “The idea that men don’t care about their health is wrong: they just don’t want to appear silly or vulnerable,” he said. “The internet is an ideal first port of call for men because of the anonymity it offers,” he added, “and this is particularly the case when a condition is seen to be embarrassing.” And involve their balls. So what are men looking for as they trawl the net? Baker suggests it is condition rather than product led sites that are teeming with traffic. And the triumph of online initiatives such as suggests that someone at least has their finger on the electronic pulse. “With 30-35,000 hits a week, men are seeking out the reliable condition-related information and interactivity offered by this site, “ suggests Baker. Popular features include the virtual examination room, where you can complete a personal health check, the exercise suite with top tips from a former Olympic athlete and the waiting room, which offers a forum for health-related discussions with other men. Another great online success story is the Orchid Cancer Appeal. Founded by former testicular cancer patient Colin Osborne, the campaign has found its website to be its greatest weapon in the battle against male cancers. The charity, which aims to raise awareness of testicular, prostate and penile cancer, has relied almost entirely upon its web presence, with a PR agency only appointed in the last couple of months. “With the Orchid site, we have fostered a successful and well used online community, where men feel safe to not only access information, but to ask questions and talk with other patients,” said the site’s creator and developer, Richard Robinson of healthcare new media specialists EightML. Nearly 10,000 people visited the site between January and August this year, which offers downloadable video clips and a discussion forum. And planned for next month, a rather risqué viral marketing campaign is set to swell (sic) traffic further. Its star, a particularly well endowed gentlemen, appears to be the real life Buster Gonad. So what lessons can pharmas learn from these switched on portal providers? EightML’s Richard Robinson thinks the internet has revolutionised the way men look for and use healthcare information. “Empowered by the access to this unprecedented volume of information, the internet is allowing men to actively take control of their own healthcare management for the first time, whilst also raising their expectations.” He continued, “Now men want more options, more convenience, value for money, and above all, a better quality of life.” With direct to consumer advertising fast becoming reality, the internet will offer pharmas even more opportunities to open dialogues with end users. “The internet is a fantastic low cost precision marketing and communications tool,” explained Robinson. “And sophisticated diagnostic tools are now enabling us to gain more information about end-users than ever before, thus forming a more personal relationship with them. “ With a prize of this magnitude at stake, clued up marketers must surely don whistles, and waxed jackets and get out there and start directing traffic. There’s nearly 13 million UK men out there online and though some are searching for Britney Spears, many others are more concerned with their own bodies. Oh and click here for Britney's guide to semi-conductor physics.

Sara Teiger

Last updated on: 27/08/2010 11:40:18

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