Use Programmatic Native Advertising to Boost Your ROI: An Interview with Nick Ockert, VP of Sales and Native Advertising at PulsePoint

July 16, 2021
Nick Ockert

Native advertising is a growing favorite among marketers and consumers alike. A 2019 study by ADYOULIKE predicted that global spending on native would jump by 372% between 2020 and 2025. In the U.S. alone, that’s an increase from $29.56 billion to $139.52 billion spent on native each year.

PulsePoint’s Nick Ockert, VP of Sales and Native Advertising, helps us understand why this approach is so rightfully popular, and how it can be integrated with programmatic for next-level ROI.

What is native advertising anyway?

Terms like “native content” and “native advertising” have become catch-alls for ads that read more like articles. But when we’re talking about native advertising as it fits into a programmatic strategy, Ockert explains, it’s more specific than that. “We take content from a brand website and promote it through an ad that premiers as a sponsor story on the publisher’s site. The goal is for somebody to click on it, and it takes them to the brand site.”

Native is an effective way to educate consumers about complicated concepts, which abound in the healthcare industry. What’s more, it makes use of the very brand-adjacent content that pharmaceutical and other healthcare companies have been investing in in recent years. 

For example, a pharmaceutical company that sells a drug for treating chronic migraines will of course have information about their drug on the brand website. But, increasingly, that same site will have what Ockert refers to as a “disease awareness” section, something with content that educates people about the condition. It’ll likely include information about both symptoms and treatment, and would highlight drugs as one treatment option. 

As engaging as this type of brand is, its key challenge is scale. That’s where native comes in. “The company can take that disease awareness content and promote it through a native ad to the target audience on publishers. The audience will see an ad—for example, What are the symptoms of chronic migraines?—and when they click on it, it’ll take them through to the drug site to read the article. Then they have a direct connection to the treatment option,” Ockert explains.

So does native advertising work?

Native advertising may be health marketers’ perfect weapon against ad fatigue. Despite the fact that consumers recognize that native content is in fact a form of advertisement, they’re still willing to engage. In addition, they don’t tire of these types of ads the way they do with traditional display messaging—so long as the content remains relevant and interesting.

Indeed, users pay 53% more attention to native ads compared to other online advertising, and they’re much more likely to share (32% of people say they would pass along a native ad versus 19% when it comes to display ads).

Though we don’t entirely understand why this engagement occurs, there are a number of factors that could play a role. For example, consumers find native ads easier 62% to understand than traditional display ads and 31% easier to understand than social ads. And they’re viewed as 27% more trustworthy than social ads.

All of this translates into a solid return on investment. “When it comes to results, if the targeting is done properly, you’re aligning with content on symptoms or patient journey, then aligning the native ad with that environment, you’ll see strong ad performance and conversion metrics,” says Ockert. “Native ads can not only drive as much as 30 times the click rate of banner ads, but they also can be up to 10 times more cost effective to engage consumers than display.” 

What is programmatic native advertising?

As with any advertising, maximizing the benefits of native advertising means finding, and reaching, the right audience at the right time. “Native is part of PulsePoint’s Life platform,” Ockert says. “Looking at the evolution from having advertorial on a publisher, to having custom content tailored to the advertiser’s need. How valuable is that? Now, we need a bigger audience that’s promoting that content, and from there [promoting] the healthcare companies. So, a company creates content about the disease, then embeds it next to the product info. But they still can’t get people to read it, so promote it across sites. That’s where we come into play. We get people to engage that native ad and come to the brand’s site.”

This is why programmatic is such an important piece of the puzzle. Rather than buying ad space on a specific website, then hoping the right reader will show up and opt to engage, programmatic “follows” the target consumer around the web and bids to get content in front of readers when they’re most likely to engage.

Furthermore, as audience targeting becomes more restricted, contextual targeting—which is the foundation of native advertising—will just keep getting more important. PulsePoint uses data-driven, health-focused technology, has a proven track record of success, and integrates solutions into a single, streamlined platform.

As the first company to develop healthcare specific contextual targeting, PulsePoint is already a leader in this realm. Genome, for example, identifies relevant content using NIH definitions of disease. And, newly launched Health Reads—the brainchild of Chief Revenue Officer Andrew Stark—provides users with a tool just for native. Encompassed within PulsePoint’s Life platform, Health Reads acts as a widget that recommends contextually relevant content (and thus associated native ads) to users.

What should healthcare marketers need to know before going programmatic native?

Despite native’s growth in recent years, it remains a daunting strategy for many in the healthcare marketing world. In particular, messaging strategies differ, and shifting regulations can be a lot to navigate. 

Engaging Content: The nature of your content makes a big difference when it comes to connecting with consumers. While traditional display ads focus on providing information about the product for sale, to be effective, native should be more generally informative. “The less product drive, the less branded, the more that will resonate with the audience. The more it’s about the actual interest of the patient—and this applies to healthcare providers as well—the more it’s about the actual disease, health, and wellness rather than a drug or service they can utilize, the more engaging it is,” says Ockert.

Regulation Compliance: Ockert says. “A lot of the healthcare industry has been slower to adapt to newer formats, often due to the regulations in the space. There’s some fear around creating native ads that will be compliant to their legal teams within the company and to the FDA. So, there’s a lack of experience building compliant native ads… But, the pharma marketers who do include native ads are seeing results.”

Partner Up: Fortunately, the solution to these challenges isn’t to avoid native, but to build a strategy that respects regulations. And working with the right tech partner can be an indispensable part of that process. The ideal company will be experienced in navigating the intricacies of the healthcare marketing landscape and have the creative chops to know how and when to advise your in-house marketing experts. In addition to consolidating an array of technological capabilities under a single platform, PulsePoint has the expertise to assist in building and implementing creative native content that is also compliant.

To learn more about PulsePoint, and how our data and technology solutions can support your HCP marketing efforts, request a demo.

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