Smarter DTC Targeting w/ Real-Time Health Data Segments

November 20, 2023
Alissa Lopez

Challenges in Healthcare DTC advertising

Reaching consumers with healthcare advertising involves facing unique challenges: marketers must safely handle sensitive consumer information, navigate strict regulatory environments, 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 that data is accurate and up-to-date is integral to 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 DTC advertising

Effective DTC health advertising should always integrate some form of customer data in campaign decision-making, whether that’s anonymized medical history and prescription information, key market demographics segmented based by age, gender, and location, or health-related digital content engagement. 

Health brands can gather relevant data from a variety of 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 effectively leverage for in-the-moment audience targeting. 

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 consumer 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 segmentation is an issue and a barrier to success. Siloed systems fuel a lack of integration between real-time consumer audience data and omnichannel activation platforms, leading to fragmented information as the basis for many healthcare campaigns. 

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

How to find the right DTC data partner and healthcare DSP

Even when a 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 consumers 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.

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

Health-focused data partners: Brands need data providers that specialize in health audience targeting and offer an in-depth understanding of those audiences to ensure both compliance with strict 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.

Custom segmentation: It’s important to find a DSP partner with access to large-scale, privacy-safe clinical and digital data sources to build audience segments that closely represent target consumers. Brands should be able to activate custom-built audiences, as well as 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: When selecting a health-focused DTC data partner, marketers should also consider how often their customer data is refreshed. Using old, stagnant data as a basis for audience targeting will only lead to sub-par results. Ensuring that customer data and the audience segments built with it are constantly refined is key to launching timely campaigns that consumers can relate 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 it critical to find a DSP with direct partnerships and integration with brand-relevant inventory suppliers.

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

Partner with the largest healthcare data foundation and DSP

PulsePoint operates the largest healthcare DSP, with the greatest visibility to health audience interests and needs, thanks to direct supply integrations with premium healthcare publishers and clinical resources, such as WebMD and Medscape. PulsePoint's Ad Exchange gives our analysts visibility to 90% of US consumers’ digital movements and enables them to understand the interests and sentiment of people-based audiences through the context of the content they are consuming in real time.

In total, PulsePoint has direct visibility to 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 & HIPAA guidelines, PulsePoint’s health graph unifies this digital and clinical data in real time to create the most unique and precise view of condition-relevant consumer audiences, allowing marketers to activate on more accurate audiences. 

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

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


Healthcare marketers have to deftly balance their responsibility to protect patient privacy, adhere to 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 consumer data out there—but not all of it is up to date or useful. And 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 the flexible and dynamic data offered by DSPs to build qualified modeled audience segments and take their DTC campaigns to the next level. By integrating real-time, condition-relevant data into their targeting segments, marketers can connect with brand-relevant audiences and launch timely campaigns that resonate with consumers 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.

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

Get more content delivered right to your inbox. Signup for the pulsepoint newsletter today

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Get more content delivered right to your inbox. Signup for the pulsepoint newsletter today

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Related Posts

No items found.