Digital Strategies Reach Patients Needing Medication-Assisted Treatment


CleanSlate Outpatient Addiction Medicine, a national medical group providing physician-led, office-based treatment for individuals suffering from opioid and alcohol use disorders, was expanding rapidly and needed a creative digital strategy to reach potential patients.

Standards set by Google, Microsoft and Facebook limit recovery-oriented drug and alcohol services from advertising on major online platforms unless they obtain certification from LegitScript, a for-profit third-party company. The seemingly well-intended restrictions work to protect consumers from fraudulent ads and illegitimate providers, however, they also impact legitimate providers of medication-assisted treatment – considered the “gold standard” by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for treating the disease of addiction.

Unfortunately, investigations reveal the costly certification is not always effective against spammers or bogus listings, pushes legitimate providers lower in search results and has the potential to impede vulnerable patients from accessing information about care options.

Strategy and Tactics

Several well-known digital platforms were not an option to improve brand awareness and drive patient volumes. So we deployed a creative paid social media strategy on Twitter and Snapchat, two platforms that allow ads by addiction treatment providers, to reach CleanSlate’s target demographic. Because drug and alcohol misuse disproportionately affect younger adults, we heavily utilized Snapchat, which primarily reaches adults 18 to 24 years old.

To track visits, we implemented geofencing ads targeting areas near CleanSlate centers or in local high-risk areas in each market. The geofencing technology provided data that allowed us to draw a correlation between potential patients who had seen an ad and their visits to the general vicinity of a center. With this data we could fine-tune our advertising strategy and placements.

Execution and Results

We ran geofencing ads surrounding 40 centers, focused heavily on newer locations. Over a 10-month period, geofencing allowed us to correlate more than 15,000 clicks and 1.7 million impressions with more than 350 center visits at a cost of $500-600 per location.

We also simultaneously ran Twitter and Snapchat ads in 10 states to increase awareness of CleanSlate and its services. The Twitter ads generated more than 3,500 clicks to the website for a spend of $1,500. The Snapchat ads resulted in more than 1.1 million impressions and nearly 7,000 swipe-ups for just over $2,000.

Overall, the campaign reached more than 2.8 million people and generated nearly 20,000 clicks over a 12-month period with a total ad budget of less than $27,000.

Ultimately, our efforts with Karmanos brought their brand to an audience of more than 112 million in our first year.