Bayer Tries New Google Drug Ad Format But Lawyers Spoil the Party

Last Updated Nov 18, 2009 11:38 AM EST

Bayer (BAY) is trying out the new Google-invented ad format that includes a fixed link to a drug's risk and side effect information. The ads are for Yaz, Bayer's troubled contraceptive.

The experiment will be closely watched by other drug companies, all of whom are seeking a way to utilize Google ads without falling afoul of the FDA, which previously warned against their use because the tiny, text-based promos do not contain warning information.

But Bayer's efforts to promote Yaz through Google are far outnumbered by the efforts of lawyers advertising for clients to sue Bayer over injuries caused by Yaz. Those plaintiffs claim that Yaz's formulation carries an unnecessary risk of potentially fatal blood clots.

In any Google search for Yaz, the first sponsored result is the official Yaz site. It features a headline and text advising viewers to "Read important product info here," and a new subhead that says, "Click to see full safety and prescribing information, including boxed warning."

The second and third sponsored results are for lawyers suing Bayer. Of the other eight sponsored ads down the side of the results page, six are for lawyers.

A prime example is on MM&M's page where the Bayer ad tactic was first reported (see image below). At the bottom of the page is a prominent Google ad. Although the entire article is about Yaz, the ad is for Audet & Partners, a law firm suing Bayer.