Lung cancer is by far the deadliest cancer in the United States: It accounts for nearly 25% of all cancer deaths. To combat the disease, AstraZeneca developed Imfinzi, a drug to treat Stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). But a drug is only effective if it reaches the right patients, and in this case, AstraZeneca needed to find individuals who fit the Stage 4/NSCLC lung cancer profile—a very specific segment of the population.
We knew that targeting such a niche group would be prohibitively difficult, so we targeted lung cancer patients as a whole. Our method: A content-driven program called Horizons that focused on the human side of lung cancer treatment. Our goal with this platform, which launched in 2019, was to reach this unique patient group by providing accessible resources to help them manage their day-to-day lives while undergoing treatment. In this way, we aimed to stand out from the overly clinical content that cancer patients are inundated with.
After profound success in 2019, we added another goal to the campaign for 2020: Utilize learnings from the previous year to optimize our content and provide additional thoughtful support to this group of individuals. To do this, we needed to identify key topics that were relevant to lung cancer patients and develop content and tools to address them. By tuning into our audience’s needs and responses, we aimed to make Horizons 2020 an even better resource to help them lead the dynamic, fulfilling lives they love.
Using the Health brand—whose mission is to provide informed advice to support all areas of daily life—as our North Star, we created the Horizons content landscape, which included articles, infographics, animated and live-action videos, guided meditation exercises, and print advertorials. We aggregated the digital content on a custom Health magazine partner content webpage and developed a thoughtful, welcoming aesthetic to draw patients in and make our resources more engaging. We also worked with Health to develop an online Lung Cancer Condition Center with articles addressing common cancer questions alongside Imfinzi ad units. Across all of our content, we went beyond a treatment-centric perspective and focused on broader lifestyle topics such as food and exercise, becoming a stronger advocate, and the art of positivity.
For the 2020 campaign, we utilized a variety of UX-based insights—combined with thorough and thoughtful research on our target audience—to refine our campaign and develop new resources to support cancer patients. First, we took note of the content that saw the most engagement in 2019 and doubled down in these subject areas. We developed more nutrition-focused videos and more content around daily routines and finding calm, for example, based on engagement data from the previous year.
Additionally, we spoke with oncologists and gathered feedback from support groups to learn more about what kind of resources and guidance cancer patients are looking for. Based on these insights, we developed action-oriented videos, such as a video on Qigong, a low-impact flexibility and meditation practice. We also developed content geared toward the common questions that lung cancer patients face: how to manage stress, how to stick with treatment even when it’s difficult, and how to talk with their children about their diagnosis. Finally, we also created resources to inspire our audience. We introduced videos showcasing the personal stories of people with lung cancer (Heather and Bruce) and how they’ve managed the challenges of their disease and thrived.
In addition to fine-tuning our content, we improved the aesthetics and design of our digital destination anchored on Health.com. We refreshed the layout and worked to make the visuals clean, bright, and welcoming. This helped us surface new resources, such as guided meditation videos, and made tools like our oncologist-vetted Recipe Finder easy to access. By clicking a “Recipe Finder” button, users could search for specific meal ideas (“tacos” or “pancakes”) and browse through recipe collections curated for cancer patients, like foods to ease an upset stomach or a sore mouth.
Through careful research of our audience and analysis of campaign metrics, we were able to create a content ecosystem that addressed the everyday needs of lung cancer patients. In this way, we were able to drive genuine engagement with a broad audience, including the specific subset of patients that AstraZeneca needed to reach.
Our content optimization efforts paid off: In 2020, Horizons saw large volumes of traffic and exceeded Meredith’s engagement benchmarks by wide margins. The tentpole and article pages had over 307K pageviews in 2020 and generated an engagement rate of 19.5%, an improvement over 2019 and an astounding 149% lift over Meredith’s benchmark engagement rate.
Our social media strategy was a key factor here. We used social amplification to funnel users to our articles, tentpole page, and Recipe Finder tool, and in August 2020 we saw an average CTR of 2.25%—a 9% increase over Meredith’s benchmark.
The Recipe Finder tool, videos, and Lung Cancer Condition Center articles stood out for their particularly strong performance. The Recipe Finder saw over 227K pageviews in 2020, and it posted a 62% increase in average time on page and a 131% jump in average pages per visit over the respective 2019 figures. The videos profiling Heather and Bruce were also highlights: Both saw engagement rates nearly three times the Meredith benchmark of 3.3%. Finally, the Lung Cancer Condition Center articles together generated over 537K pageviews for the year.
The strong results of the Horizons 2020 campaign illustrate the effectiveness of an audience-first approach. By assessing the needs of our audience and optimizing our content accordingly, we were able to forge a genuine connection with lung cancer patients, drive awareness of Imfinzi, and empower them to live active, healthy lives—even in the face of treatment adversity.