Picking up on any peculiar patterns in this post? We live in a world where unexpected relationships between individuals, how they speak and what they read has enabled a wholesale reinvention of journalism, entertainment and advertising. A concurrent health data revolution made possible by machine learning, first-party cookies, beacons and EMR APIs now beckons, making the idea of programmatic display targeting almost seem quaint. It has become so routine to have personally relevant ads show up as we conduct business, check our Facebook feed or run errands that we no longer give it a second thought. That said, as a pharma marketer, now is exactly the time to figure out how to tap programmatic magic in your multichannel campaigns.
To illustrate with a way-out-of-category example, a few months ago I was intent on buying a ukulele at one of the brick-and-mortar stores on “music row” on the west side of Manhattan. I was not looking for just any ukulele, but a baritone ukulele, which is far less common, its 30-inch length eclipsing its famous “soprano” cousin by a full 50%. This is a rare instrument — for context, consider that there are 368,000 monthly U.S. “exact match” Google searches for the rare disease cystic fibrosis — and only 27,000 searches for “baritone ukulele.” In spite of my occupational expertise, I was impressed to find myself courted by ukulele makers in the form of well-timed display and Facebook ads, many featuring particular models I had researched online.
Two takeaways from these developments that are especially important for pharma advertising — one, there is no audience too small to micro target and, two, the ubiquity of personally targeted ads has raised users’ comfort level as they expect, sometimes demand, ads to be tailored just for them. Pharma marketers, true to form as late adopters, have finally adopted. And results-focused media pros who put their pants on one leg a time should have their cue that programmatic has finally earned its status as a core digital channel.
If you’re considering a first-time programmatic test for your pharma ad campaign, be sure to measure and test these three dimensions of targeting to effectively triangulate your campaign and hone in on your best approach. The right answer will be unique to your audience, message, competitive landscape and content environment.
1. Pick Your Pages
Skip publisher and website selection and plan your campaign placements all the way down at the individual web page level. Sometimes referred to as page-level whitelisting, this approach empowers you to use pick your spots based on specific keyword-driven requirements. Better still, as part of a programmatic buy you may acquire such placements at a cost per thousand impressions 80% below the rates premium publishers will charge, making it a clear win-win.
This is an easy and effective way to reach an audience in a highly contextual context without the privacy concerns associated with targeting what might be considered “sensitive medical information.” Page-level whitelisting can be remarkably effective when its focus is on concepts described by extended key phrases or on serving ads amidst user-generated content posted by members of specialized forums asking and answering the most pressing questions on the minds of patients and caregivers.
2. People Power
Build propensity models and scour the health-specialized DSPs for targeting opportunities made possible by overlaying de-identified patient health data with existing cross-device user profiles. Retargeting prior visitors to your website introduces a custom behavioral component to audience targeting, often critical to qualifying prospects for very specialized campaigns. Related practices, like using Facebook Custom Audiences, to re-market to opt-ins from other channels are continuing to gain traction. We’ve also seen heavy adoption of first-party targeting within the clickstream of a given publisher.
3. Purposeful Places
For many Rx brands, patient audiences are geographically dispersed as disease knows no borders. Propensity models that identify patterns and correlations between known variables of individual consumers nonetheless often identify geography — regions of the country, urban vs. rural counties or even zip code income levels as positive or negative predictors of receptivity. Further, when HCP and patient communications are well synchronized, geographic pockets of high or low prescribers can uncover patient segmentation opportunities for message differentiation. This can yield locations in which diagnosed patients are less likely to be prescribed your product by local physicians.
Programmatic still represents the great unknown for some pharma brands, but starting with the “3 P’s” covers your bases well and sets you up for success in this burgeoning channel.