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Smart Thinking blog

Insights and expert advice on the key issues facing today’s pharma marketer

The potential of programmatic

Consumers desire messages which are personalised and relevant to their needs

Programmatic is alive and well. In the UK alone, it is estimated that the programmatic display ad market will be worth £2.67 billion by the end of 2017, up 44% from 2016. (Source: eMarketer, 14 September 2016)

In some industries, programmatic has become standard practice, but the pharma sector has been slower to adopt automated media buying to deliver their marketing campaigns. Lack of understanding about how the technology works plus concerns around regulatory risks have prevented pharma marketers from taking a chance on programmatic technology. In addition, many pharma marketers simply focus their campaigns on delivering product messages; programmatic will not help with this (for now, at least).

It won’t it help you because:

  • The vast majority of medical publishers and communities do not serve programmatic advertising, although some of the big ones have reviewed it and recognise that they will need to serve ads with these platforms with this technology at some point;
  • As a pharma marketer, you are probably still too focused on marketing the product features and benefits rather than delivering value to your customers and wider stakeholders, where programmatic media can be served.

What is programmatic? “It’s the method by which all advertising will come to be bought and sold like search ads on Google - auction based, with the buyer paying whatever price an ad is worth at a given moment. It’s buying specific audiences using lots of data to figure out the right ad, the right person, the right time.”  (Source: Adweek)

The world has moved on from features and benefits, and you also need to do so. However, we are now seeing a shift in consideration taking place. We know the landscape for targeting healthcare professionals is narrow and expensive. But the modern customer journey has become increasingly complex. We live in an age where customers are always connected, engaged and want to see relevant messages. In order to deliver a seamless experience to customers, pharma is recognising that it has to catch up and embrace the shift towards customer experience, and with it the latest in responsive technology to deliver their needs cost effectively.

Marketing starts with understanding the customer, and what programmatic advertising has to offer is a rich layer of audience insight, on top of what we already have. The door is open to precisely target and verify advertising exposure to a defined list of healthcare professionals, and this is what is now attracting pharma clients’ attention. It means we can reach audiences outside the standard environments while adding greater intelligence to the media we buy to ensure we are connecting with the right people at the right time.

Programmatic advertising is not just about satisfying the top of the marketing funnel either. The ability to build and reach new audiences, on top of retargeting existing customers, proves the value of programmatic in delivering both top and bottom of the conversion funnel.

Greater transparency
Greater visibility on media performance means campaigns can be better refined and optimised. In the past, when working directly with publishers we were completely reliant on the limited insight they could provide. We now can see what is delivered, and where, while learning what is working and what is not.

Greater data and insights
Data is at the heart of the programmatic process. So, not only do you minimise wastage from purchased inventory by targeting the right audiences, but you also get greater insight to better understand your online customers. And those learnings are happening in real time, which means a campaign can be optimised throughout its duration, potentially increasing ROI.

Improved tracking capabilities
It’s easier to track and analyse data more efficiently, from advertising views through to website visits and actions. Audiences can be intricately segmented, which makes targeting messages in the right context at the right time far more effective.

Consistency across multiple channels
Programmatic can be thought of as a centralised buying platform. What this means is that we have the ability to combine the power of data to deliver effective communications where the audiences are active: across desktop, mobile, tablet, video and social channels.

Geo-fencing
With the rise of the smartphone, your target audience is constantly on the move; with geo-fencing, you can constantly reach that audience in real time. Media buying is increasingly informed by location intelligence, which has become a source of real-world behavioural insights.* And, as a result of having grown up in the programmatic era, a much greater proportion of mobile inventory (79% in 2016)** was traded programmatically than that for the overall market. Real time bidding and location targeting of smartphones will help you create deeper audience profiles for future as well as current ad serving.
*(Source: Local Search Association)
**(Source: eMarketer, 15 September 2016)

Article by
Andy Stafford

Commercial director at Nitro Digital.

16th March 2017

From: Marketing

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