Monday, 5 August 2013

Digital public health marketing

Where do you go when you need to look something up?  

Rarely do people carry around health leaflets, flyers, business cards just in case they may one day use this information.  Similarly, few remember the adverts on buses and trains when they realize that a specific service is required.   Google is the most common answer you hear to this question and this is where public health marketing needs to be to make a difference.

SXT Health CIC ( was set up with a grant from UnLtd ( Guy's & St Thomas' Charity ( to increase access to information and services and over two years it has proven itself to be a flexible digital platform to support health education and a range of providers.   SXT is free to use and the providers control their web profile, times, services and have access to a powerful analytics page. This year, SXT has run a number of digital public health marketing campaigns using Google Adwords in London to sign post clients to services on both sides of the Thames.

The latest round of Ads have focused on four areas and keywords used have been informed by the experience of working in sexual health, discussion with colleagues in Guy's & St Thomas' (GSTT) Sexual Health Department and Brook as well as advice from the Google Adwords software.  The latest Ads have been running since 24th June and the adverts have been displayed on 235,022 occasions to Londoners during this time with 864 clicking on an advert [344 Emergency contraception, 296 STI testing, 123 Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) & 101 on Contraception].  The average cost per click has been £0.47 and this SXT June 4:1 campaign has cost so far £409.43.

These adverts have been paid from the marketing budget of the sexual health department at GSTT to prove the concept for digital public health marketing and determine a return on investment.  SXT is charging a 10% fee per advert clicked during this proof of principle trial [Total cost £500].  Of the 246 SXT users of the site during this campaign, two thirds (163) chose a specific clinic and 32 of these clients (20%) selected a GSTT clinic [Burrell Street or Lloyd clinic].   The median (range) distance between the SXT client and the GSTT clinic they chose was 2.2km (0.58 - 12.71km).  The other 131 providers chosen were sexual health clinics, community services, GPs and pharmacies.

SXT is keen to support commissioners to pool their financial risk and expand public health marketing strategy across other digital platforms such as Facebook & Twitter as well as run banner adverts on Gaydar, Grindr, Manhunt etc. to optimize the access of men of sex with men to HIV testing and PEP.  In addition, SXT is partnering with Connecthings ( to facilitate the creation of SXT clients by the use of NFC tags and QR codes in venues to support access to information on sexual health, drugs and find high quality services across the capital. 

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