Why You Should Embrace Programmatic Advertising for Your Healthcare Marketing

June 6, 2022

For half a decade, programmatic health technology has advanced healthcare marketers’ ability to efficiently and effectively make connections with specific individuals by their real-world digital behaviors – to creatively and effectively target consumers during specific life events. Accurate targeting equates to spending efficiency. And when people have questions about their health, or providers want more information about treatments, they look online for answers, engaging with health content longer than any other vertical.

The adoption of programmatic advertising systems was in direct response to the traditional and laborious process of buying ads or selling ad impressions. That older, more manual process began with an RFP to specify the parameters of the engagement, such as CPM or what percentage of playback is considered an impression (in the case of video ads). Then, the buyer or seller would need to negotiate with the selected publisher or buyer to address their needs and requirements. Finally, the process involved crafting and delivering manual insertion orders so that the ads got placed. Programmatic advertising changed all that. This technology-focused approach utilizes software and data to not only automate the process of purchasing ad placements, but of selling ad space as well. It cuts out all of the manual processes while delivering real-time optimization and data insights for enhanced targeting and decision making. Utilizing programmatic advertising technology effectively requires that you understand both how it works and the opportunities it creates so you can assure your advertising needs align to its capabilities.

Understanding the programmatic technology and workflow

The technology and automated workflows in programmatic advertising provide two core improvements. While the technology enables more highly targeted campaigns, the improved workflow makes the entire ad-buying or selling process more efficient.

Improving ad targeting

Healthcare marketers need to target their audiences, whether HCPs or consumers. That’s because medical device manufacturers or consumer therapeutic devices have very specific requirements. What’s more, HCPs are also increasingly difficult to reach, with over 50% of HCPs being no-see. 

Taking a shotgun approach to ad buys, then, only results in wasted money. And getting to those targeted audiences using traditional advertising platforms is difficult because of the lack of data. Programmatic ad platforms, though, are built to target specific audiences because the workflow and other components are integrated with large data sets. In addition, Programmatic ad platforms provide a loop: campaigns are targeted based on available data, data is collected from user engagement, which in turn provides more data against which to target campaigns. When that data powers a programmatic ad platform which provides excellent filtering and slicing, marketers can even better optimize their targets to address those very niche audiences.

A much more efficient process to buy and sell ads

Even without the data which enables better targeting, programmatic advertising platforms provide a more efficient ad-buying or ad-selling process. Before those platforms, ad buyers within a company, for example, would have to engage with multiple systems and parties to ensure that the proper creative assets appeared within the appropriate digital channels. But programmatic platforms provide a broad range of features across the entire publishing and buying workflow, enabling ad buyers and sellers a one-stop shop for everything from purchasing, to bidding, to analysis. This includes:

  • Publisher: The site that the user visits, which holds the ad inventory. 
  • Advertiser: Companies or agencies which represent different brands who want to place ads on the publisher’s site.
  • DSP: Demand Side Platform, which is the one bidding on ad space, representing the advertiser who pays for the inventory.
  • SSP: Supply Side Platform, which is the side helping the publisher to monetize their ad inventory. 
  • RTB: Real-time Bidding, which is the live auctioning of ad inventory from publishers to the DSPs that utilizes user data to access the value of an impression. 
  • Ad Exchange: A dynamic technology platform that facilitates the digital media buying between advertisers and publishers.
  • Endemic: For Health, an endemic publisher is one whose business is focused in the Health sector (e.g. Drugs.com)
  • Non-endemic: For Health, a non-endemic publisher would be one whose business is not focused on Health, but may have content adjacent to it (e.g. CNN.com/health).

Looking at this in action, before programmatic, an endemic publisher—”Endemic.com” for this example—used to need a full sales team to sell their audience to a health brand. The health brand would buy that audience based on whatever amount of knowledge the publisher could have provided up front. With programmatic, the health brand can buy the audience they want to target (like those who visit Endemic.com) and reach them wherever that audience is online. But the publisher knows that there are a lot of potential buyers for the impressions on their site and so can enable real-time bidding (RTB). The RTB process begins when an internet user accesses a website or application, and the publisher’s site signals to the SSP that there is an impression available. The SSP analyzes the user data, sends it to the ad exchange, and the data is relayed to the DSPs. The DSPs then bid on the ad impression based on their value parameters set by advertisers during programmatic campaigns. The highest bidder wins, and their ad is displayed to the user. All of this takes place in an average timeframe of about 20-50 milliseconds which is, as you can imagine, orders of magnitude faster than the manual processes involved in non-programmatic advertising processes.

The true value of programmatic advertising for healthcare

As healthcare marketers shifted budgets to automated digital media buys, efficient and effective ways to connect with both direct-to-consumer (DTC) and health care professional (HCP) audiences have been established. This also presents an open-field opportunity for digital publishers to capture new dollars entering into the market, with eCPMs 3x higher than other verticals.

But targeted advertising, and its increased cost and revenue, isn’t why programmatic advertising is so impactful in healthcare. Remember that it’s a loop: data to target, data gathered from interaction, more data for targeting. Only the data that’s collected as consumers and healthcare providers engage with the ads is so much more valuable. It allows healthcare marketers to connect with patients and providers in a very meaningful and intimate way. Consider how PulsePoint Life enables marketers to deliver brand assets and messaging into the electronic health records (EHR) system. Programmatic advertising systems can utilize an incredible amount of data to ensure that information, not just messaging, is provided at the time decisions are made, such as when a provider selects a patient diagnosis and when that doctor sits down to speak with that patient about it. 

Targeted advertising is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the power and impact this technology holds.

How can programmatic advertising help your medical company?

For digital agencies representing many healthcare brands or large pharmaceutical companies, programmatic is a way of life. It enables them to optimize when and where they reach HCPs or consumers with the messaging that is most likely to sway their decision.

But the healthcare landscape has a lot more players than just agencies and pharma. From medical device manufacturers to supplies to digital therapeutics, such as AliveCor (EKG), Hinge Health (MSK), and ReSound (hearing aid), many companies could benefit by reaching HCPs via NPI codes. With PulsePoint’s Life platform, healthcare marketers in medical or therapeutic device companies can employ a powerful tool to direct brand awareness, such as when a nurse is recommending a specific hearing aid product to a consumer that the doctor has diagnosed with hearing loss, or help target your sales force. For example, knowing which doctors have engaged with an advertisement about your medical device can be invaluable to smaller medical device companies. Rather than take a shotgun approach to marketing the device, they can specifically target HCPs and generate leads across HPIs (or identify NPIs who are interested). For smaller companies with limited sales resources, this kind of targeting can help increase close rates.

Once you go programmatic, you never go back

A key challenge for all marketers today is finding digital audiences as media consumption continues to become increasingly fragmented. This is no different for healthcare marketers, who are frequently looking to reach highly specific individuals, who are interested in or have specific conditions, in a manner which is compliant with strict privacy standards.

There’s no doubt that the growth of programmatic is the ad industry’s biggest success story of the past 10 years and has exponentially advanced marketers’ ability to efficiently and effectively make connections with their consumers. But it’s only been in recent years that the programmatic industry has begun to address the needs of healthcare marketers, offering them new ways of programmatically buying digital inventory with confidence, safeguarding the growth of digital marketing healthcare dollars. PulsePoint has taken a leadership role in this, enabling healthcare marketers, through the Life platform, to take advantage of programmatic technologies to better target, and engage with, HCPs and consumers.

Want to find out more about how programmatic advertising can help your healthcare marketing efforts? Schedule a demo today!

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