Smarter DTC Targeting w/ Real-Time Health Data Segments

November 20, 2023
Alissa Lopez

Challenges in pharma marketing

Reaching consumers and healthcare professionals with pharma marketing involves facing unique challenges. Marketers must safely handle sensitive consumer information, navigate strict healthcare marketing regulations, and understand the complexity of healthcare decision-making. Decision points drive all marketing campaigns, and healthcare decisions are particularly multidimensional, involving medical, financial, and emotional choices that marketers have to consider. 

Drawing insights from customer data can help brands forecast these decisions, but ensuring accurate and up-to-date data is integral to pharma digital marketing campaign success. Without quality data, marketers must rely on mass-market advertising, using a “spray and pray” approach to hopefully reach target audiences within a broader group—a tactic that is often unsuccessful. Despite this, only 24% of marketers worldwide say they always use customer data in their campaign decision-making.

The importance of real-time health data in pharma marketing

Effective healthcare digital advertising should always integrate some form of customer data in campaign decision-making, whether that’s HCP specialty and prescribing behavior, consumers’ anonymized medical history and treatment information, key market demographics like age, gender, and location, or health-related digital content engagement like brand site visits. 

Health brands can gather relevant data from various sources, including their own websites, mobile apps, previous campaigns, surveys, and third-party providers. However, the historical digital and clinical data healthcare brands rely on might not always be readily available or regularly maintained enough for marketers to leverage for real-time marketing and audience targeting effectively. 

With instant access to information at a consumer’s fingertips, they can research and pursue alternative treatment solutions with the tap of a link or click of a mouse, making historical seasonal and loyalty insights less reliable for future campaign forecasting. And using inaccurate and dated customer data may have the same effect as using no data at all.

These nuances make reaching brand-relevant audiences one of the leading challenges for healthcare marketers. In fact, 42% of healthcare marketers said audience segmentation strategy is an issue and a barrier to success. Siloed systems fuel a lack of integration between real-time health audience data and omnichannel activation platforms, leading to fragmented information as the basis for many healthcare advertising campaigns. 

A real-time, omnichannel view of a target audience’s digital and clinical activities is now a requirement to stay ahead of the latest trends and changes to treatment accessibility. To execute smarter direct-to-consumer healthcare marketing campaigns, brands need to find the right demand-side platform (DSP) with access to this type of real-time audience data, which can be used to target and optimize reach all in one platform. 

What is a DSP in healthcare? 

A DSP is programmatic advertising technology that can help health marketers better execute HCP advertising, target DTC users, and orchestrate audience optimization to improve overall healthcare digital engagement.

Even when an HCP or patient is already prescribed to their brand, marketers need to understand a total path-to-treatment journey and use those insights to craft messages that effectively reach and resonate with target audiences during clinical decision-making moments. Working with the right programmatic DSP can give marketers this 360-degree view of their audiences all in one place to better inform pharmaceutical marketing strategies.

How to find the right health data partner and DSP

But how can health marketers identify the right data partners and DSP healthcare solution? Here are the top characteristics to ask about when selecting a partner for healthcare campaign activation:

Health-focused data partners: Brands need data providers specializing in health audiences and offering an in-depth understanding of those audiences to ensure compliance with strict healthcare marketing regulations and rigorous activation. Health-specialized DSPs integrate directly with healthcare data providers, allowing seamless access to anonymized medical records, prescription data, and other privacy-safe, health-specific data sets that enable more accurate targeting and measurement.

Custom segmentation: To build HCP lists and audience segments that closely represent target consumers, it is important to find a DSP partner with access to large-scale, privacy-safe clinical and digital data sources. Brands should be able to activate custom-built audiences and third-party segments, leveraging programmatic technology to reach high-quality audiences through any number of brand-relevant attributes and real-time activities.

Superior data & inventory quality: Marketers should also consider how often their customer data is refreshed when selecting a health-focused data partner. Using old, stagnant data as a basis for audience targeting will only lead to sub-par results. Ensuring that customer data and the audience lists and segments built with it are constantly refined is key to launching timely campaigns that consumers can relate to and respond to.

Simultaneously, verify the quality of a DSP’s advertising inventory because seeking out the right audiences in ineffective channels or websites can be costly. Advertisers waste an average of 23% of programmatic ad dollars on low-quality inventory, making finding a DSP with direct partnerships and integration with brand-relevant inventory suppliers critical.

Brand marketers need high-quality, diagnosis-relevant data that accurately represents target audiences and is readily available, regularly maintained, privacy-safe, and cost-effective to create a successful foundation for healthcare audience targeting and measurement.

Partner with the largest healthcare data foundation and DSP

PulsePoint operates the largest healthcare DSP and has the greatest visibility regarding health audience interests and needs. This is thanks to direct supply integrations with premium healthcare publishers, like WebMD and Medscape. PulsePoint's Ad Exchange gives our analysts visibility into 90% of US consumers’ digital movements. It enables them to understand the interests and sentiments of people-based audiences through the context of the content they consume in real-time.

PulsePoint has direct visibility into more than 200 billion transactions and 20 billion health impressions per day, with over five years of historical digital and clinical insights to draw from. In compliance with NAI and HIPAA guidelines, PulsePoint’s health graph unifies this digital and clinical data in real-time to create the most unique and precise view of diagnosis-relevant consumer audiences, allowing marketers to activate more accurate audiences in direct-to-consumer marketing in healthcare. 

In fact, in a recent survey conducted by TechValidate, 100% of surveyed organizations said PulsePoint’s audience quality is better than that of other platforms they’ve worked with, thanks to actionable insights that enable more precise, custom audience segments, timely activation, and mid-flight campaign optimization. 

What truly sets us apart is our strong foundation of customer data. We are constantly improving our data and population view to drive the most relevant impressions and increase the likelihood of brand conversions in healthcare advertising. 


Healthcare marketers must deftly balance their responsibility to protect patient privacy, adhere to healthcare marketing regulations, and uphold industry standards with the need to leverage precision targeting that delivers relevant messages and meets campaign objectives. There is a wealth of brand-relevant customer data out there, but not all of it is up-to-date or useful. Without the right data in hand, brands aren’t reaching their ideal audiences in the right place or at the right time.

Health brands can leverage DSPs' flexible and dynamic data to build qualified modeled audience segments and HCP lists that take their pharmaceutical marketing strategy to the next level. By integrating real-time, diagnosis-relevant data into their targeting segments, marketers can connect with brand-relevant audiences and execute timely direct marketing to consumers in healthcare that resonates during clinical decision-making moments.

PulsePoint’s breadth of insight gives marketers a better understanding of their target audience’s unique attributes and what they do contextually and clinically, so they can segment and effectively reach their target audiences and optimize mid-flight campaign performance.

Are you looking for a health-based DSP that can offer high-quality customer data, premium inventory, and custom audience segmentation to enhance the results of your next healthcare campaign? Contact the team at PulsePoint today.

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