How targeted digital advertising could help pharma marketers avoid some of the industry’s most common pitfalls

Programmatic advertising has grown exponentially in the last five years across almost every industry sector, but notably, pharma has been lagging behind. Now is the time for healthcare marketers to embrace programmatic technology and the ability of digital advertising to connect them with their target consumers.

Programmatic advertising has automated the ad buying process, removing the need for time-consuming manual tasks. Instead, ads are bought and sold via ad marketplaces, using data to target the right ads to the right audience, at the right moment.

Programmatic technology has advanced marketers’ ability to efficiently and effectively make connections with their consumers. Nowhere is this more important than the healthcare vertical, where getting a consumer the right information can actually be life-changing.

Putting things in context

A key challenge for all marketers today is finding their consumers, as media consumption continues to become increasingly fragmented. This is no different for healthcare marketers. However, this issue is significantly harder since healthcare marketers are frequently looking to reach hyper-targeted audiences – people with specific conditions. Programmatic helps solve this by providing an automated way to access audiences at scale and in contextually relevant environments. By leveraging a combination of audience, behavioural and contextual targeting, programmatic technology advances marketers’ ability  to ensure their messages are seen in the right environment by the right audience.

In addition, and of critical importance, programmatic technology works to the brand’s advantage by automatically detecting and avoiding content or contextual factors deemed unacceptable to the brand. This is called contextualisation. Contextualisation tools scan and filter volumes of content in real-time. Context can be defined by the marketer and can be established based on the true meaning of the content and either positive or negative sentiment. This means a marketer can request to place their product near certain content and not near other content. For example, a healthcare marketer seeking to appear within content related to the medical condition ‘cancer’ does not also want to appear within content related to the astrological sign ‘Cancer.’ Sophisticated technology that understands specific healthcare terminology and applies AI and Machine Learning to continuously improve accuracy is a valuable asset in the fight to ensure brand safety.

Connecting with your audience

Programmatic technology has further evolved to allow marketers to get more specific. This is true not only for the specificity of the audiences that can be reached, but also for the types of content that are placed in front of them. From content marketing, to video, to any creative format across any device – programmatic has enabled pharma marketing to be more individually focused, and marketing efforts can actually follow an individual consumer across each stage of their patient journey from prevention and diagnosis, through treatment and recovery.

By telling a sequenced story to a consumer across multiple forms of advertising over time, marketers can creatively and effectively target consumers – and can customise the messaging based on the stages of that experience, enabling brands to form bonds with their audience.

The time is now

Programmatic advertising is enabling marketers to be more efficient and effective with their marketing efforts. Leveraging the scale of the aggregated digital landscape provides marketers with better access to their specific audiences and programmatic capabilities ensure brand safe context and facilitate individualised messaging.

While making the first foray into programmatic advertising can be daunting, the range of sophisticated solutions now available has made this the time to embrace the technology. Doing so won’t just help achieve brand objectives, but will also work in the best interest of consumers.

Gareth Shaw is general manager, EMEA at PulsePoint