Strange bedfellows: Allergy paid search pits diverse brands against each other

GSK's Flonase leads the list of most-clicked text ads for allergies, followed by Claritin and Nasacort, in new Kantar Media study. (GlaxoSmithKline)

While Flonase, Claritin and Nasacort are the top-clicked search ads in allergies, a less-obvious group of brands including Halls, Swiffer and Advil also came out on top in a new study from Kantar Media.

Kantar researchers used 33 allergy-related search keywords such as allergy symptoms, allergy medications and food allergies to analyze brands’ share of clicks. They found 17 advertisers who got at least a 1% click share across the group of phrases over the six months studied from January to June.

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While many were OTC and prescription drug brands used to treat allergies, also popping up were several advocacy groups such as Allergy Asthma Network and Kids With Food Allergies, a test kit maker and common household brands such as Halls and Swiffer that aren't typically associated with allergies.

“Paid search is different from other ad mediums in that you often find advertisers who are competing with other advertisers who are not their natural competition, simply because they’re sponsoring the same keywords. So, for instance, you have antihistamines and nasal steroid sprays—those are complementary products in real life. Ideally you take both, not one or the other, but they’re actually fierce rivals in paid search,” said Jim Leichenko, director of marketing at Kantar.

The top three allergy medicine text ads—from GlaxoSmithKline’s Flonase, Bayer’s Claritin and Sanofi’s Nasacort—generated almost half (47%) of all clicks. Flonase was in Kantar's No. 1 slot for the second year in a row, this time garnering 18.8% of all U.S. Google desktop text ad clicks, an increase of 1 percentage point from last year. Claritin notched 14.1% of all clicks, up from 7.4% in 2017, followed by Nasacort with a big jump to 13.7% this year, up from 3.6% in the same time period for 2017.

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Leichenko also noted the connection between paid search and TV advertising, because better-known brands generally fare better across all product categories when bolstered by TV ads.

“With search, companies that are advertising on television that are household name brands have an advantage over those that don’t. If you’re doing a lot of advertising on TV, people are a lot more likely to see your brand name and build some trust and are more likely to click on your brand,” he said.