According to data from GlobalData’s Digital Marketing Intelligence platform, the top 10 most visited branded websites in the type 2 diabetes (T2D) non-insulin space include representatives from three major anti-diabetes classes. These are: dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4) inhibitors, glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists, and sodium-glucose co-transporter-2 (SGLT-2) inhibitors.

Fluctuations in the traffic to these websites seem to be more correlated with the announcements or publications of major cardiovascular outcome studies than with spending on digital display advertising (DDA) or paid search tactics.

The combined traffic to these websites over the past 12 months spiked in December 2018, before dropping by more than 30% in January 2019. This spike and the subsequent drop were mainly driven by fluctuations in the traffic to AstraZeneca’s Farxiga (dapagliflozin), Johnson & Johnson’s Invokana (canagliflozin), and Eli Lilly’s Jardiance (empagliflozin) websites. Farxiga, Invokana, and Jardiance all belong to the class of SGLT-2 inhibitors, a relatively new group of oral medications for the treatment of T2D.

As no major fluctuations in DDA or paid keywords for these sites were detected in the same period, this peak was likely due to the expert consensus decision pathway published by the American College of Cardiology in November 2018 and further research on the topic presented in-depth at the American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Sessions in December 2018, showing that SGLT-2 inhibitors significantly improve cardiovascular outcomes in patients with T2D and atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases.

Visits to the Eli Lilly’s Trulicity (dulaglutide) brand site spiked massively in June 2019, bringing it to the top position by a landslide, despite a lack of DDA for the site. This increase is likely mainly due to the presentations on American Diabetes Association (ADA) conference in June where the results of a cardiovascular outcomes study with Trulicity, a drug from the GLP-1 class, were announced (REWIND trial). In addition, the number of paid keywords for the site, although low overall, was increasing steadily between March and June, from about 20 per month to about 70 per month, according to SEMrush.

However, the analysis of traffic sources on SimilarWeb suggests that the majority of the traffic increase was direct traffic (traffic to a domain via URLs entered in a browser’s search bar or through saved bookmarks) and via referral sources (traffic to a domain from a hyperlink on another domain excluding social media), rather than through a paid or unpaid keyword search or through social media.

Overall, the top 10 branded websites, presented in Figure 1, include four websites from SGLT-2 inhibitors brands, four from GLP-1 receptor agonists, and only two from DPP-4 inhibitors brands. The lower prominence of the DPP-4 brand sites may be due to the fact that GLP-1 and SGLT-2 brands offer strong support throughout the patient journey, especially during treatment onboarding and continuation. Compared to GLP-1 agonists and SGLT-2 inhibitors, brand sites for DPP-4 inhibitors and combination products provide less support to patients continuing on treatment.