CBI Scene Blog

Advertising Targeting for Healthcare & Life Sciences in the 21st Century

Posted by R.J. Lewis on May 11, 2015 2:20:00 PM

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"Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half".  
Twentieth Century Retailer - John Wanamaker

According to eMarketer, spending on digital advertising is at an all-time high and is projected to increase every year far into the future. Marketers are increasingly discovering digital advertising is the most cost effective way to find and reach their customers.

Improvements in digital advertising technology now offer superior targeting functionality that result in excellent returns on dollars invested. This post explores the three most successful targeting methods: Retargeting, Geo-medical targeting, and Authentication based targeting. These innovations in digital marketing bring us a step closer to solving John Wanamaker’s problem and can dramatically cut the waste in your campaigns.

What is Retargeting?

Retargeting uses tracking code technology to create a list of people that visit your site, or a site where your ad has been displayed, by placing anonymous "cookies" in their browser. This retargeting list enables ad serving companies to display your ads as your prospects visit other sites across the Internet. For example if you were run your healthcare related ad across a premium healthcare network, your ad will first reach your prospect visiting a targeted healthcare site. Retargeting through ad exchanges then gets your message in front of your customers just about anywhere they might go online.

Retargeting campaigns ensure your ad receives multiple impressions to improve brand recognition through repeated exposure. This results in higher click-through rates and increased conversions.

What is Geo-Medical Targeting?

Geo-medical targeting combines big data with advanced ad serving capabilities. It gives marketers the ability to reduce wasted impressions by focusing their marketing spend on the most highly concentrated areas of the country where diagnosed patients live or where their prescriptions, or those of their competitor are being written.

Geo-medical targeting leverages data from de-identified insurance claims data for patient diagnostic intelligence, or pharmacy data to determine prescription (Rx) activity levels. This data is analyzed in a HIPAA compliant way, to “focus” advertising expenditures to yield the most effective cost per patient reach.

There are three types of data that are currently used for geo-medical targeting. These include: insurance claims data, pharmacy prescription data and behavioral data to identify look-a-like cohorts.

Insurance claims data is used to target the most densely populated diagnosed patient populations for a given condition. This data is indexed against general population levels to eliminate areas where patient population for a particular condition is low. This type of geo-medical targeting turns “direct to consumer advertising” into “direct to patient advertising.”

Pharmacy prescription (Rx) data is used to concentrate messaging to the segments that best fit your brand strategy. This data can be used to implement a switching strategy or to target messaging designed to reinforce your brand the areas where you are already dominating in market share.

Look-a-like models based on behavioral and third party data are used to provide greater scale and expand geo-medical targeting reach.

Depending on the categories and segmentation analysis, geo-medical targeting can enable you to reach 70%+ of the patient population while focusing on just 30% of the country.  Why buy run-of-site, when you can pinpoint your messaging with better focus through geo-medical targeting?

What is Authentication Targeting?

If your brand is specifically for a healthcare professional audience your advertising campaign would be incomplete without and Authentication based component. Authentication campaigns can be run by list-matching against a marketers existing targets, and targeting based on a specific medical specialty.

When running an authentication based campaign, it is important to make sure that the ad serving or email marketing partner adheres to industry best practices and all applicable regulations including: HCP-supplied profile data is provided with prominent privacy disclosures and opt-in control, Cookies and pixels are used in accordance with privacy protection, and the company maintains strict confidentiality of personally identifiable information.

For more information about targeted digital advertising opportunities visit ehealthcaresolutions.com.

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About the Author


R.J. Lewis is the President and CEO of eHealthcare Solutions (EHS), founded in 1999, EHS is the first vertical Internet advertising network devoted entirely to healthcare. Today, eHealthcare Solutions delivers audiences and drives innovation and serving both digital advertisers and publishers. EHS exclusively represents the advertising, sponsorship, email, and mobile opportunities of more than 85 high-quality digital medical publishers. The Network delivers high-value exposures and engagements targeting niche audiences.  EHS was named PM360 Trailblazer company of the year in 2012 and Mr. Lewis was named to the PharmaVOICE 100 list of most inspiring leaders in the life sciences industry in 2013.

In part to solve his own Network’s growth challenges, Mr. Lewis co-founded Ad-Juster in 2007, a thriving technology company based in San Diego focused on online discrepancy management, reconciliation and auto-adjustment of campaign delivery. Ad-Juster manages impression and viewability discrepancies between publisher-side, agency-side and viewability vendors.  Ad-Juster has over 130 customers licensing its software including more than half of the comScore top 100 web publishers and advertising networks.  Ad-Juster was named to the INC 500 list (#186) of fastest growing private companies in 2013, and made the list again in 2014.

RJ recently co-authored the book Results: The Future of Pharmaceutical & Healthcare Marketing which examines the impacts and future potential of digital marketing, regional marketing, marketer’s use of big data and navigating our evolving systems of care.   

R.J. Lewis earned his MBA in 1999 in Marketing and Information Systems from the Stern School of Business at New York University.

Topics: Brand & Digital Strategy