Vaccine Advertising: Preach to the Converted or to the Unaware?

24 December, 2021

With thanks to the Communication Initiative. Extracts and a comment from me below. Full text:

"is it possible to drive people who are unaware of a vaccine towards inoculation, and if so, what should the balance between advertising to people who are unaware, compared to those who are aware but have not yet vaccinated, be so as to maximally raise the number of vaccinated people?"

The researchers conducted online ad campaigns encouraging people to vaccinate against 3 diseases: influenza, human papillomavirus (HPV), and herpes zoster...

In conclusion, "digital advertising campaigns should consider not just pushing direct keywords or derive sets of individuals that look exactly like existing customers, but consider tangential keywords that draw in the wider target population who are likely earlier in their conversion funnel, or maybe not even in it."

COMMENT (NPW): I would argue that it is unethical to ignore 'people who are unaware of a vaccine towards inoculation'. The first priority is to ensure that (paraphrasing the musician Nile Rodgers) people "have the information and the facts so they can make up their own mind". The tragedy is that people are unaware, or have a distorted view of, the balance between risk and benefit, and this leads to avoidable death and suffering.

Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator,