The Crumbling Cookie: Use Healthcare Context, Not Cookies

April 9, 2020
Andrew Stark

In this post, we’ll look at an approach to reaching your audience that sidesteps the pitfalls of cookie reliance.

From the complexities of GDPR and CCPA compliance to Google’s impending ban in 2022, cookie-based targeting has become a sore subject for health and life sciences marketers. 

First, there’s the issue of regulatory compliance. If your targeting practices don’t conform to existing data privacy regulations, you’re tempting a whirlwind of state, federal, and international sanctions. Healthcare marketers have always made brand safety a top priority - because nothing is more personal than one's health. With delicate subjects like health, how can you be certain that your ads are targeting relevant audiences with sensitivity and impact?  

That’s where contextualization plays an important role. 

How Can We Target Without Cookies? Contextual Marketing.

Contextual Marketing is defined by when an ad or promotional message appears on sites and webpages with relevant content automatically.

Unlike targeting individuals with a unique identifier (aka a “cookie”), contextualization targets the content of a page to deliver an ad which is contextually relevant to the environment. 

This real time contextual targeting is especially useful in marketing for sensitive conditions, like mental health or sexually transmitted diseases, where targeting individuals using cookies or any other identifier, is prohibited by the NAI. 

In fact, advanced contextual marketing is both the precursor to and the evolution of cookie-based tracking, and has long since helped healthcare companies to use data to drive decision-making on a variety of potential campaign choices -- from audience segmentation to content placement. 

An enterprise-grade health contextual marketing solution will allow you to pair your ads in real-time with content that is relevant to a specific health category or keyword that will engage an existing or new audience. 

Consider for example, an article about Kim Kardashian having Psoriatic Arthritis. When buying media, it’s helpful to know if the content is focused on the medical condition or the star to determine relevance to the brand. 

With an advanced contextual marketing solution, context can be defined by the marketer and then verified and implemented based on the true meaning of the content. This process distinguishes between content that invokes positive or negative sentiment, allowing marketers to request to place their product’s ads near specific content while excluding inappropriate or irrelevant content. 

Contextual Technology With an M.D.

IAB category or keywords alone can’t draw the full picture and not all contextual solutions were created equal. That’s why it’s vital for health marketers to use customized solutions that take into account the range and complexities of health terminology. 

Health specific contextual technology offers three key advantages to the modern health marketer: 

1. You are able to identify a particular health topic of content that may belong to multiple categories, such as Endocrine System Disorders (top-level category) and Diabetes Mellitus (second-level category) and Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 (third-level category) etc. Platforms built to contextualize according to the IAB standards will only be able to get as specific as “Diabetes”.

2. You will access all relevant content, which translate into a larger audience for your brand’s message and increased ad performance over time. One-size fits all contextualizers by default block many terms relevant to a healthcare brand, like “blood” because their technology was built for other verticals, with very different marketing objectives and brand safety concerns.

3. Your campaigns will be able to go the distance when it comes to reaching a potential audience, and beyond the endemic landscape.  

Contextual Marketing is Everything

With the right contextual marketing tools, you can optimize the impact of every audience interaction by delivering the right content to your audience irrespective of the platform or device they might happen to be on. Campaigns, when guided by AI geared towards the needs of health marketers, can be highly effective, especially when you have access to premium inventory on multiple platforms.

  • Consumers targeted at the contextual level are 83% more likely to recommend a product that they saw in an ad than consumers targeted non-contextually.
  • Purchase intent increases by 63% over non-contextually targeted consumers.
  • Consumers view brands 40% more favorably when their ads are contextually relevant.

Context is the ultimate big picture, delivering a real-time portrait of your audience as they move across content, platforms, and devices, helping to gauge their readiness for health-related brand messaging. It becomes a dynamic encyclopedia of content keywords and themes along with summarized and indexed consumer engagement behavior at your fingertips. That means that your audience’s content consumption will inform your media-buying choices, revealing the optimal place, time, and audience segment for a specific brand message without requiring you to rely on a specific cookie identifier.

Learn how contextual targeting can help you get the most out of your data. Connect with us for a personalized demo.

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