Top 3 DTC Audience Segmentation Strategies in Healthcare

July 2, 2024
Alissa Lopez

Activate smarter DTC targeting with real-time health insights

When it comes to direct-to-consumer healthcare marketing, brand marketers face many challenges—from stringent healthcare marketing regulations and privacy concerns to complex medical iterations. Engaging audiences during clinical decision-making moments is critical. However, to do this, marketers need to use high-quality, real-time data to target their audience.

There’s no shortage of DTC targeting data, but in today’s competitive healthcare marketplace, old or inaccurate segments won’t get the brand’s content in front of target DTC audiences. Finding health data partners with access to real-time, large-scale, privacy-forward, clinical and contextual data sources is vital to building audience segments that best represent a brand’s target consumer.

Marketers working with a demand-side platform (DSP) like PulsePoint can leverage different audience segmentation strategies to reach their DTC audiences. Still, three options stand out: activating bring-your-own data through third-party audience segments, implementing always-on targeting rules, or—the most comprehensive and dynamic solution—taking advantage of custom-built Bespoke Audiences.

Our 3 strategies to segment audiences and personalize digital marketing

In a fast-moving marketplace, pharma marketers need flexibility and autonomy; they must be able to leverage third-party audience segments, add real-time audience segmentation solutions, and curate custom audience segments that are clinically focused and more relevant for today’s digitally and clinically savvy consumers.

Through PulsePoint’s DSP healthcare solution, health brands can activate third-party audience segments, always-on healthcare consumer targeting rule attributes, and proprietary Bespoke Audiences custom-curated by marketers with brand-specified criteria in combination and at any stage of the campaign. But first, they must determine which audience segmentation strategy or combination of strategies will be right for them.

The following sections highlight the pros and cons of three main segmentation strategies for DTC campaigns.

Option 1: Bring Your Own Data

Activate static, third-party audience segments

In the dynamic field of direct-to-consumer marketing in healthcare, understanding the implications of using static third-party data is crucial for effective consumer targeting. Third-party segments purchased from DTC data providers represent consumer audiences during the moment in time when segments are curated. They do not reflect real-time clinical or digital actions taken by target consumers. Since audience modeling methodologies based on historical data vary among data partners, most marketers purchase several static segments to ensure the broadest possible reach. While costly, this approach can effectively circumvent customer data refresh issues when targeting audiences with a higher propensity for a chronic condition diagnosis. However, marketers miss out on reaching target DTC audiences who’ve most recently taken brand-relevant actions post-segment curation.

Other disadvantages of using static, third-party audience segments include:

  • Historical consumer data that doesn’t reflect in-the-moment behaviors
  • Generalized audience criteria that are not tailored to the brand
  • Non-proprietary healthcare consumer targeting solutions
  • Segments that are static rather than dynamic or always on
  • Audience optimizations are limited to trialing after ad spending is wasted
  • Added up-front costs for advanced segmentation pre-campaign activation

Option 2: Always-On Targeting Rules

Leverage PulsePoint’s programmatic advertising technology to update audience segments in real time through always-on targeting rules

PulsePoint’s Always-On Targeting Rules redefine how pharma marketers engage with target DTC audiences by leveraging real-time data updates and programmatic advertising technology for unparalleled precision in healthcare marketing. Always-on targeting rules empower pharma marketers to further segment audience lists by audience attributes, digital content engagement, and/or condition prevalence—and update those segments in real time as audiences take brand-relevant actions. Targeting rules can be layered on top of segments to scale campaign reach or improve precision, allowing brands to reach high-value audiences based on real-time and historical insights. 

This level of healthcare consumer targeting is possible given the breadth and depth of PulsePoint’s data foundation and its partnerships with premium healthcare publishers and clinical resources such as Medscape and WebMD. With five years of experience in health-focused advertising, PulsePoint's Exchange has direct visibility into over 200 billion digital transactions and 20 billion health impressions daily. This provides our clients with confidence in our deep understanding of consumer content relevancy.

PulsePoint’s always-on targeting rules include:

  • Health Pages: Reach target DTC audiences through contextual targeting, at the moment they are consuming brand-relevant content across 3,000+ health conditions.
  • Health Populations: Target populations historically consuming content related to 3,000+ health conditions.
  • Health Populations (PLUS): Target DTC populations who’ve historically consumed content across 3,000+ health conditions or visited an owned-and-operated Internet Brands endemic health website, such as WebMD.
  • Geo Radius: Target geographical areas based on location-related identifiers for relevant populations and devices.
  • Demographics: Target DTC populations based on age or gender.
  • Weather Triggers: Target ZIP code populations proven or predicted to be clinically affected by weather.

In addition to Pulsepoint’s Always-On Targeting Rules, brands can leverage pharma digital marketing campaign optimization strategies, such as Audience Quality bidding optimization, to automatically bid higher on target DTC populations most likely to have a target diagnosis. For the most clinically relevant healthcare consumer targeting available, PulsePoint’s Bespoke Audiences help marketers maximize positive outcomes upfront through custom audience segments. 


Option 3: Custom-Built Bespoke Audiences

Create custom audience segments that target DTC populations and enable multi-channel activation

PulsePoint’s Bespoke Audience segments are custom-built by our data science team and modeled using brand-defined, clinically relevant audience criteria from PulsePoint’s extensive clinical and real-time digital data foundation. 

What’s unique about PulsePoint’s Bespoke Audiences is that they are founded on real-time, brand-relevant clinical behavioral changes detected by our Health Graph—such as new conditions—and treatment-related content audiences are reading online, or recurring and new prescriptions received at a doctor’s office.* Here’s how we create custom audience segments.

Clients can activate any combination of insights available within our database of more than 220 million de-identified patient profiles, over 5 billion condition-related claims*, and over five years of digital activity derived from contextualizing pages, apps, and environments we track daily through a privacy-by-design approach.

After marketers choose the desired audience attributes, our machine learning reviews de-identified diagnosis, prescription, or treatment claims in connection with millions of demographic combinations. It then provides a model and ranks populations into deciles of importance to the brand. We refresh this data daily to ensure brands always reach the most relevant audiences in decision-making moments, essential for narrowing the funnel in conversion-focused campaigns.

The differentiators for Bespoke Audiences include:

  • The ability to curate a proprietary audience segment built exclusively for the brand
  • Granular customization for every clinically relevant attribute and activity
  • Daily audience updates to account for changes in clinical and digital behavior
  • Reduction in wasted spend by targeting a more refined, condition-relevant audience
  • Zero up-front costs before campaign activation

With PulsePoint’s bespoke targeting solution, we handle the modeling and guesswork for you, giving brands the most significant opportunity for reach through the tremendous breadth of our accessible and actionable target DTC audience insights. Elevate your pharmaceutical marketing strategy with PulsePoint’s Custom-Built Bespoke Audiences, where cutting-edge data science meets clinical precision to deliver unmatched audience targeting and omnichannel activation.

Partner with the largest healthcare data foundation and DSP

At PulsePoint, we empower advertisers to deliver crucial health information effectively, while prioritizing consumer privacy and compliance with healthcare marketing regulations. Our comprehensive data enable marketers to execute precisely timed campaigns that resonate deeply with target audiences, ensuring that objectives are met and exceeded. Advertisers must deliver relevant health information to the right people, all while prioritizing consumer privacy, adhering to healthcare marketing regulations, maintaining ethical standards, and building trust with target DTC audiences. By using high-quality customer data in campaign decision-making, marketers can reach brand-relevant audiences, launch timely campaigns that consumers can relate to and respond to in clinical moments, and ultimately achieve campaign goals.

No matter which of the three top segmentation strategies you choose—static, third-party segments, always-on targeting rules, or custom-built Bespoke Audiences—PulsePoint provides the flexibility to change tactics and criteria at will throughout the life of a campaign. If activated segments aren’t performing, marketers can use real-time insights and optimization strategies to enhance results at every step of a consumer's health journey.

In a competitive and demanding marketplace, brands that work with a DSP to build Bespoke Audiences using dynamic health data will win. Contact us today to launch your campaign with PulsePoint’s bespoke, always-on audience segmentation.

*Prescription data and/or claims data received and used by PulsePoint is de-identified in accordance with HIPAA prior to PulsePoint’s receipt of the data, and is only used in a manner to ensure that data remains de-identified. 

1 All geotargeting requires a minimum of a 2,006 ft (.38 miles) radius).

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.