How to Reach HCPs at Medical Conferences in the Era of Hybrid Events

May 30, 2023

Healthcare providers (HCPs) are a coveted audience for marketers, but it can be a challenge to reach them with the right message at the right time. Marketers can capture HCPs in non-professional settings such as their home—and the data shows they’re still engaging with ads in this space—but it is key that your message matches their mindset. 

Reaching an HCP in a white coat moment—or professional mindset—can yield positive outcomes. A doctor who is working, engaged, and actively considering their patients’ concerns is often open to learning about new treatments. But during a busy shift, your message might get lost in the shuffle.

There’s a third moment marketers should include in their strategy: medical conferences. HCPs go to medical conferences to not only learn but also socialize, presenting a unique opportunity for marketers to reach HCPs while they’re in both a personal and professional mindset. 

And in a post-pandemic world where many conferences include hybrid (virtual and in-person) experiences, HCPs can be reached in more ways than ever. This is where conference targeting comes into play. 

What is conference targeting?

Similar to geo-targeting, geofencing, or contextual marketing, conference targeting is a surround-sound marketing strategy that serves ads to conference attendees based on their location, interests, and behaviors.

As with contextual marketing, nailing the timing, location, and channels is crucial for conference targeting.

Today’s conference targeting campaigns are granular; marketers can go beyond simply buying a billboard outside the ASCO event venue or serving digital ads to everyone in downtown Chicago. Well-executed geofencing allows you to reach a wide audience—and the right audience.

Do HCPs still go to medical conferences?

As with most facets of our personal and professional lives, the COVID-19 pandemic forever changed the way HCPs experience medical conferences. While many organizations have gone back to in-person events, most now offer fully virtual or hybrid experiences for their attendees. 

In fact, 58% of physicians say they now prefer virtual and hybrid formats for events rather than in-person conferences. But what does this mean for conference targeting? Don’t give up on your geofencing strategy just yet.

Between fully virtual events and hybrid conferences, a majority of medical professionals report that they prefer hybrid; the mix of online and on-site programming gives them flexibility while still offering an opportunity to speak with other practitioners face to face. 

Researchers have also found that having hybrid options makes conferences more accessible, which means new medical practitioners will be at the table, expanding marketers’ potential audiences.

This creates a unique opportunity—one in which marketers are able to reach more HCPs in more environments and mindsets, further increasing their brand exposure.

What would a conference targeting ad campaign look like?

By working with a demand-side platform (DSP), marketers can make the most of the hybrid medical conference experience, reaching HCPs both in person and online. A comprehensive conference targeting campaign should include a combination of the following tactics:

  • Airport and Hotel: reach HCPs before they even get to the conference by geofencing ads in specific airports and hotels—especially the hotels and meeting places that are partnering with the conference hosts.
  • Venue: serve ads to HCPs during conference hours within a specific radius, only hitting those who could benefit from your message.
  • Digital Targeting: use contextual solutions like keyword targeting to capture HCPs engaging with conference content and breaking news. Using a national geofence alongside keyword targeting can create a powerful solution for hybrid-format events where virtual attendees might be based across the U.S.
  • Specialty: within your conference radius, narrow your audience down further by targeting specific HCP specialties.
  • Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH): to increase your reach outside of the venue and create a truly surround-sound experience, serve ads on digital screens in nearby airports, taxis, gas stations, etc.
  • Retargeting: continue down the funnel by reaching engaged HCPs after the conference is over, building the frequency of your message through repeated exposure.

No matter which services work best for your campaign, it isn’t an either/or scenario—the beauty of conference targeting technology is that it gives marketers the flexibility to test and scale their campaigns based on what’s working (and what isn’t).

So how do I get started with HCP conference targeting?

HCPs go to conferences for a multitude of reasons—to advance their career, educate themselves to better help their patients, and network with other professionals in their field. This creates a combined motivation for professional, educational, and social development that marketers should consider when putting together their next omnichannel campaign. 

To get started, determine your target audience, find a medical conference you think they would attend, and partner with a DSP you can trust to implement a data-driven and scalable campaign.

For more information about how PulsePoint can power your conference targeting campaigns as part of effective, all-channel omnipresent marketing, contact us here.

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