How Programmatic Helps Marketers Build Comprehensive Campaigns

March 4, 2020
Jason Scheller

This blog post is the second of a four-part series which will help you better understand the world of programmatic, how it works, and how it applies to the health industry. For more information on programmatic for healthcare marketing, download the eBook “Programmatic Health Anthology” or listen to our Programmatic Health Podcast.

In the first post of this series on Programmatic for Health, we covered the basics of programmatic. Now, we’re diving deeper into programmatic technology and how healthcare marketers can utilize its capabilities to build effective, comprehensive campaigns. With programmatic, marketers are able to make more informed bidding decisions on ad inventory, target highly-specific audience segments, keep their brands at the top of users’ minds after first engagement, reach them across multiple platforms, and more.

As we get down to the nitty gritty of programmatic, it’s important to remember one of the most vital pieces of the programmatic process: algorithms. Algorithms (or “algos,” as we like to say) are the automated processes by which a computer makes a decision. In the land of programmatic, a common use of algorithms is to help guide bid pricing. 

Bid pricing strategy is how buyers establish the amount and types of ad inventory they want to acquire based on their budgets, and algorithms are used to determine the costs of their bids as a result of that strategy. Marketers can set various parameters that define their specific goals for bidding and pricing. The algorithm will return the suggested price for each auction, as well as which auctions to bid on. Therefore, programmatic is helping healthcare marketers find more efficient ad buying strategies, while reaching specific audience segments that are more likely to engage.

Bid multipliers automatically adjust bidding based on these other segmentation parameters, like different demographic information such as gender or age, user device data, and more. If a pharma brand wants to target someone in a space that is contextually relevant to their ad, they can still hit other audience segments differently by setting parameters and using bid multipliers within their buying platform.

What does this look like in real life? Let’s look at Brand A, a pharmaceutical company marketing to HCPs. Based on their historical data, they know that physicians in urban areas engage twice as much with them versus physicians in more rural areas. Additionally, they know that the engagement increases by double when the ad is placed in a contextual environment. 

Here is what the bid multiplier could look like:

Physicians in the US: 1x 

Physicians in Chicago: 2x 

Physicians in Chicago reading endemic content: 4x

Brand A can modify their bid strategy, so that they only pay a premium for the engaged audiences, like Dr. Bob from Chicago on Endemic.com at $40 CPM. They might still want to reach Dr. Smith in Havre, Montana, but at a $10 CPM. This reflects the competitiveness of the bid and gives Brand A a higher chance to win the auction.

With all of this in mind, healthcare marketers know how to segment their targeted audiences and establish an effective automated bidding strategy with programmatic. They know where to go to buy inventory and understand the players involved on the other side. But what about some of the other marketing strategies that programmatic brings to the table? 

One example is retargeting. After a user has taken a relevant action online to engage with a brand—visiting a company’s website, using a search engine to search for a specific term, or engaging with a brand email—they can be retargeted to keep the brand at the top of their mind. Retargeting is designed to help companies reach the majority of users who don’t convert right away, but display their interest with some sort of initial brand engagement. 

This is all done through the use of cookies, which are pieces of code that anonymously follow these users across the web and help serve retargeted ads to the users during their online journeys. This usually means to re-engage with someone who visited YOUR domain.

Taking this to the next level - for health marketers - this means that they could effectively retarget someone in a condition population based on their relevant content consumption. An example is someone who searches for information on Type 2 Diabetes being retargeted with ads for a Type 2 Diabetes medication. In easy words, “retarget” someone based their content consumption across the web, not only your domain. 

Retargeting allows a brand to learn more about its audience of return users. Brands can begin to understand what kind of messaging is resonating with these users, what keywords are driving them to the site, and other details about this group. Retargeting is one of the oldest uses of programmatic technology, and it’s a powerful way to hit an audience segment who is highly likely to engage further with a brand because they have already done so. 

As a brand learns more about its audience, and about the right ways to approach them, it can develop a more holistic media strategy. So far, we’ve focused on basic display ads that users may encounter on websites. Adding in other ad formats across different devices is an important tactic to broaden the strokes. 

Video ads on TV and other digital platforms can be effective. Native advertising, which consists of paid ads that match the media format in which they appear, is another popular route. These are only a couple of avenues you can take. A strong media plan is a comprehensive campaign, with relevant targeting and various priorities, including retargeting.

With the right targeting approach taken care of, there is still the matter of measuring its effectiveness. With different metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs), a brand can better understand how its targeting practices are working and then further optimize their campaigns based on these insights. The most important aspect of measuring one’s campaigns is asking the right questions and matching the right metrics with those questions. Health brands often ask things like “Is my campaign reaching the right audience?” and “Is my campaign generating impact by driving desired health behaviors at different stages along the patient journey?” A combination of broad campaign measurement and more granular measurement will give your brand the most comprehensive view of the effectiveness of your media strategy. 

For more details, read our Programmatic Health 101 eBook or listen to podcast The ProgPog. In future segments of this blog series, we will discuss more about programmatic, including different buying options, PMPs, data types, and more. 

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