March 2021

Comparison of Facebook, Google Ads, and Reddit for the recruitment of people who considered but did not obtain abortion care in the United States: Cross-sectional survey

Moseson H, Wollum A, Seymour J, Zuniga C, Terri-Ann T, Gerdts C. Comparison of Facebook, Google Ads, and Reddit for the recruitment of people who considered but did not obtain abortion care in the United States: Cross-sectional survey. JMIR Formative Research. February 2021. doi: 10.2196/22854

Background: In the United States, abortion access is restricted by numerous logistical, financial, social, and policy barriers. Most studies on abortion-seeking experiences in the United States have recruited participants from abortion clinics. However, clinic-based recruitment strategies fail to capture the experiences of people who consider an abortion but do not make it to an abortion clinic. Research indicates that many people search for abortion information on the web; however, web-based recruitment remains underutilized in abortion research.

Objective: This study aims to establish the feasibility of using Facebook, Google Ads, and Reddit as recruitment platforms for a study on abortion-seeking experiences in the United States.

Methods: From August to September 2018, we posted recruitment advertisements for a survey about abortion-seeking experiences through Facebook, Google Ads, and Reddit. Eligible participants were US residents aged 15-49 years who had been pregnant in the past 5 years and had considered abortion for a pregnancy in this period but did not abort. For each platform, we recorded staff time to develop advertisements and manage recruitment, as well as costs related to advertisement buys and social marketing firm support. We summarized the number of views and clicks for each advertisement where possible, and we calculated metrics related to cost per recruited participant and recruitment rate by week for each platform. We assessed differences across platforms using the chi-square and Kruskal-Wallis tests.

Results: Overall, study advertisements received 77,464 views in the 1-month period (from Facebook and Google; information not available for Reddit) and 2808 study page views. After clicking on the advertisements, there were 1254 initiations of the eligibility screening survey, which resulted in 98 eligible survey participants (75 recruited from Facebook, 14 from Google Ads, and 9 from Reddit). The cost for each eligible participant in each platform was US $49.48 for Facebook, US $265.93 for Google Ads, and US $182.78 for Reddit. A total of 84% (66/79) of those who screened eligible from Facebook completed the short survey compared with 73% (8/11) of those who screened eligible from Reddit and 13% (7/53) of those who screened eligible from Google Ads.

Conclusions: These results suggest that Facebook advertisements may be the most time- and cost-effective strategy to recruit people who considered but did not obtain an abortion in the United States. Adapting and implementing Facebook-based recruitment strategies for research on abortion access could facilitate a more complete understanding of the barriers to abortion care in the United States.

Tagged with Abortion, United States