In a recent report by eMarketer, it is forecasted that marketers in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries will spend $1.64 billion on paid online and mobile advertising in 2015, up from $1.43 billion in 2014. Those dollars are split fairly evenly between direct response and brand awareness campaigns, with 56% of their digital advertising dollars on ads that are meant to drive a conversion event and 44% on ads that have a branding-based objective.


Content, Context, or Audience?

Regardless of what a marketer’s campaign goal is, they are focused on who, specifically, they are reaching. While content, context, and sites are important, in today’s consumer-driven world, identifying and reaching the right individuals and maintaining a consistent dialogue with them across all channels is paramount.  Through programmatic buying, companies have access to an open marketplace for buying and selling of media in real time. The auction-based, automated transactions also enable marketers to apply the data available to them and hone in on the individual most likely to help them move towards their desired goal. Campaigns are set up taking into account hundreds of parameters, sites, search terms, and more, and can be evaluated and optimized in real time. Programmatic not only adds tremendous efficiency and scale, but allows marketers to minimize budget waste and maximize the return on their investment. BIG-PHARMA.jpg


This is a challenge for pharmaceutical marketers, however, because they need to know exactly what they are buying, where their ad will appear, and what commitments can be guaranteed on their exposure levels and budgeted prices for their inventory. Pharmaceutical marketers are trying to reach their target, at scale, to make the best use of their digital investments because there’s a limited and costly health inventory.  And they must do this while creating a brand safe environment and achieving FDA, FTC, and HIPAA regulatory compliance. But with the right support, buying can occur over known and approved white list sites which will assure ads don’t show up in random locations on the web that are potentially problematic for the brand.


Brands, Agencies, and Technology

Tools like MediaMath enable organizations to optimize and activate their media buying through 1st and 3rd party data across channels like social, video, and ads. As a hub for digital media buying, MediaMath is an open, extensible  platform powered by an algorithm for which the decisioning and outputs are  is transparent to marketers.


Pharmaceutical companies, like many marketers, are also looking to balance the relationship with their agencies and technology partners.  Marketers are seeking more control and transparency over the digital media buying, but instead of posing a threat to agencies, MediaMath firmly believes there is a tremendous opportunity for agencies to fuel programmatic strategy, share visibility into campaign insights and data analytics with their advertiser clients, and work efficiently unison.


Do This Next

As pharmaceutical marketers take a more patient-centric approach, ad spend will continue to increase. But with that increase in spend comes a demand for increased understanding. Pharma has a lot of data; they just don’t know how to harness it yet. Pharma ad buyers must become more comfortable with testing. They need to look at what their audience is looking at. They must analyze current channels and create alignment. They can’t view each channel as a separate strategy. They must outline awareness and recognition, presentation and diagnosis, treatment selection, therapy selection and access, and persistency and advocacy, and then document which channels apply at each stage to create look-a-like models with this information.


And Then Ask Yourself This

Lastly, as companies evaluate programmatic digital ads, they should answer the following questions.

  1. What marketing technology are we currently using?
  2. What are our goals?  Conversion rate?  Brand awareness?  In-store purchases?  HCP requests and resulting scripts?
  3. What are our desired outcomes?
  4. What data can we currently access?
  5. How much paid media are we executing?
  6. How are we currently transacting with publishers?
  7. How are we using video?
  8. How are you using social?
  9. How are we targeting at the audience level?


As seen from the projected digital ad spends, pharmaceutical marketers will increase ad spend across digital channels. And with that increased spend pharmaceutical companies must partner with organizations that can appropriately target media buying, drive the desired awareness and conversion outcomes, and leverage all channel and technology platforms.


How are you focusing your efforts on goals, instead of guesses?