Dear Friends of the ANF
I hope you and yours have been staying well during this extraordinary time. Knowing many of you are being bombarded with information related to this pandemic, the ANF has been selective in sharing updates. However, I want to let you know about an extraordinary program we launched 3 months ago.
The Acupuncture Now Foundation was established as a non-profit (charitable) organization with a mission of educating the public, healthcare providers, and health policymakers about the practice of acupuncture.
Google has a program that offers approved charities up to $10,000 a month in free Google pay-per-click ads – those ads that pop up at the top of the page during a Google search. The ANF was approved for a Google Ad Grant and THANKS TO YOUR SUPPORT we were able to hire a top Google Ad Grant approved company to manage our grant.
We just completed the initial 3 month “Lift Off” program in the U.S. where an intensive review of search terms and keywords was undertaken to learn how to get the best responses. The goal of this campaign is to drive people to the ANF website, offer information about the benefits of acupuncture and then get them referred to qualified acupuncturists.
I am happy to report that this program has been highly successful. After a lot of work refining search terms, we are using virtually every dollar of the $10,000 a month budget and we are on track to spend more than $100k this year in Google Ads!
These ads are now driving an additional 1,000 people a week to the ANF website and generating more than 65,000 impressions (pop-up ads) a month. We are also learning a great deal about the demographics of those who click on our ads; age groups, gender, areas of interest, if they use mobile devices, tablets, desktops, etc. Collecting this information will prove very valuable to our outreach efforts moving forward.
We believe this same program could be duplicated by developing multiple Acupuncture Now Foundation chapters both within the United States and internationally. That would allow us to coordinate hundreds of thousands of dollars in Google Ads every month! All with the goal of helping people understand the benefits of acupuncture and getting them referred to qualified practitioners. This sort of outreach/marketing budget has never been possible for the acupuncture profession before but it is now within our reach.
Building well-funded outreach and referral systems like this will be especially helpful as acupuncturists begin to re-open their practices as COVID-19 restrictions start to be lifted. Many people will be hurting financially perhaps also losing their medical insurance. Helping people who have never had acupuncture before to understand its benefits and get them referred will be a huge help towards getting acupuncturists back on their feet.
The ANF is reaching out to different acupuncture related groups to help them understand the potential of the Google Ad Grant program and how we can build upon it. We hope to partner with different groups/businesses/organizations to grow this program and improve its reach. But first we need to raise enough money to keep our current grant active. Google has several requirements to maintain these grants so we need to keep this program funded to keep the grant active.
We only have enough funds to keep this campaign going for a few more months and will then need to raise at least $500 USD a month to stay active with Google while we seek out partners to expand this program. The more money we raise, the better we will be able to improve our outreach by supplementing the free ads with a combination of paid Google, Facebook and Instagram ads while also refining our website referral system.
There are several ways you can help us maintain and build on this program:
First, please consider a donation to the ANF in any amount. Even $5 or $10 a month really does add up and keeps us going.
We've slashed prices on our online CEU/PDA/CPD courses by 50% so buying one or more of our popular courses will be a great way to learn valuable practice insights while supporting our efforts to get patients into practitioner’s offices. We also have affiliate programs with Brad Whisnant Seminars and Healthy Seminars so following their links on the ANF website to purchase their courses also benefits the ANF.
In the U.S., the ANF is an approved charity under the Amazon Smile program so if you select the Acupuncture Now Foundation as your charity a portion of your purchases on Amazon Smile will go to the ANF. You can also select the ANF as your charity for EBay.
I will have more to report on our efforts to find partners who see the incredible potential of maximizing the reach of hundreds of thousands of dollars of free Google Ads to help people understand the benefits of acupuncture and find qualified acupuncturists.
Thank you for taking the time to read this update. Let us know what you think by posting comments or questions below and PLEASE stay safe.
Matthew Bauer, L.Ac.
President, The Acupuncture Now Foundation
Since founding the “Acupuncture Now Foundation” 5 years ago, one of our goals was to bring attention to problems with research protocols that cause an underestimation of acupuncture’s effectiveness. We took a big step toward achieving that goal with the publication of an editorial article in a peer reviewed journal; the March 2020 issue of the “Integrative Medicine Research” journal. You can download a free copy of that article here.
I am going to be blunt here – in my opinion, the world of acupuncture research is a hot mess. There are many reasons for this but the biggest one is because the acupuncture community has never produced clinical practice guidelines. Without such guidelines hundreds of acupuncture trials have been conducted using clinical protocols that do not allow acupuncture to be as effective as it could be and this has severely slowed acupuncture’s acceptance.
Imagine hundreds of studies being done on a drug where those conducting the research don’t know what the most effective dose of that drug might be and you have an idea what has been happening for decades with acupuncture research. These poor clinical quality trials have polluted the body of evidence on acupuncture and continue to do so. In this blog post, I want to summarize 10 key points we detail in our article.
In addition to identifying these problems and the evidence that supports these concerns, our article also offers five recommendations for how to address these issues moving forward.
We believe we have made a well-reasoned and evidence-based case for the need to address these problems and we are doing all we can to raise awareness of these issues. However, there needs to be more discussion of these issues both within the acupuncture research community and the practitioner community. We especially need experienced clinicians to offer their opinions on the issue of treatment dosage. Ultimately, the practitioner community needs to develop clinical practice guidelines.
Research that has found modest effectiveness for acupuncture and especially for little, if any, benefit beyond sham has done more to harm acupuncture’s acceptance than anything else. Judgments have been made not just about how effective acupuncture may be but if acupuncture is even a legitimate therapy at all. Countless people around the world including those in the media and in policymaking positions have accepted the judgement that acupuncture has been “proven” to be nothing more than a placebo. And, while we are seeing this resistance to acupuncture slowly start to fade in the U.S., the problems with research we detail is still slowing acupuncture’s acceptance in the U.S. In many parts of the world that resistance is very strong.
After having spent 5 years trying to raise awareness about these problems I can tell you this: There is no acupuncture research police out there checking to see if the hundreds of trials “investigating” acupuncture each year are using quality clinical protocols. The handful of ANF volunteers who have reviewed hundreds of trials trying to better understand why so many find mediocre effectiveness rates have only scratched the surface. We do not, nor does anyone else I am aware of, have the resources to investigate the great number of trials that are being published each year to see if their findings are legitimate. The only ones doing this are the skeptics that will rip apart any trial that finds good outcomes for acupuncture. Everyone who wants to see acupuncture become more accepted should be concerned and maybe even angry over this and what we detail in our article.
Please download and read our article and encourage your colleagues to do the same. And here is the link to the managed care policy on Maximum Therapeutic Benefit we reference. If you are a member of an acupuncture/TCM organization, ask your leadership if they are aware of our article and what they think and are doing about it. We also invite you to comment here on this blog site and will respond as time allows. Thank you.
Matthew Bauer, L.Ac.
President, The Acupuncture Now Foundation
The Lack of Clinical Quality Guidelines Causes Underestimation of Efficacy in Sham Controlled Acupuncture Trials