Dynamic content—messages, calls to action, and designs that change to suit the reader, the medium, and the context—is fundamental for successful promotion in the decade ahead. Here are some tips for getting yourself and your team into the right mindset to begin planning the campaigns of the future.


Dynamic: “characterized by continuous change, activity, or progress.” What does that mean in the context of physician- targeted digital media initiatives? It means that a single, one-size-fits-all approach is no longer relevant and will never meet customers’ needs.

“Dynamic” can be scary for many brands. The thought of creating an ever-changing arsenal of assets and messages tailored to every individual and platform is daunting. This is true both in terms of the logistical and time implications on medical-legal-regulatory (MLR) and brand teams, as well as in terms of sheer cost.

In this economic environment, physician budget allocations are not adequate to address the needs of this customer-centric audience. Today’s physicians expect to get what they want and know how and when they want it. Further, the technology physicians use every day makes most information just a click or tap away without the need for personal interaction.

So, how can brands develop and implement dynamic, non-personal, physician-targeted media campaigns in a way that meets their needs and makes an impact on the business, yet doesn’t break the bank or become an MLR nightmare? At the end of the day, it’s all about intimately knowing your physicians and prioritizing their needs with yours.


Nothing frustrates a media person more than oversimplifications of the media-planning process that reduce our function to finding where physicians consume media and reserving that space. Finding the right audience is necessary. However, breaking through the clutter to get physicians to pay attention to what you have to say and getting them to actively engage in different media is another thing entirely. So while “fishing where the fish are” is important, it’s not enough to just plunk down any message in that space. How many fish do you think you are going to catch if you don’t have the right bait or only one worm? Creative and media must be intimately intertwined and work in partnership to deliver impact.

With physician face-time with reps shrinking and less frequent and physicians’ on-demand need for information, digital media provide a great opportunity to supplement and bolster your personal promotion activities. Like any other marketing effort, an impactful physician-targeted digital media campaign starts with the strategy, which is developed by answering a lot of traditional questions:

  • Who are we trying to reach— specialists, primary care physicians, or pharmacists?
  • What do these segments know and think about the brand? Are they new to the brand or loyal writers?
  • What are each segment’s media preferences and how do they use those media types or publishers to get information or make decisions?
  • What do we want each segment to know, or what is the desired action? Do we want to explain our mechanism of action, overcome some misconception, complete an e-detail, sign them up for e-sampling, or give them patient-education tools?
  • What are the commonalities across segments?

Most important, you need to ask those physicians what each of them wants and needs from you. The more intimate knowledge you have about your physicians’ needs, beliefs and behaviors, the better you may identify the intersection between your needs and theirs. This lets the marketer select and create dynamic and impactful messages, customized for the right media placements. The ultimate outcome is to move your physicians to that desired action.


If you’ve done your basic audience research, you have a pretty good idea who you’re talking to and what their individual needs are. And you have a high-level view on where you can find them online. In our pursuit of understanding the physician, it’s just as important to understand how they consume information.

At the end of the day, physicians are consumers, too. They are the ultimate multi-taskers, with busy lifestyles. They eat on the run or work through lunch, try to answer burning questions while walking down the hall to their next appointment, and catch up on the latest medical news at home during their morning cup of coffee.

When physicians can find time to squeeze in a visit from a sales rep, they rarely allow more than 5-7 minutes, giving reps little time for communicating pertinent brand information and answering a few questions. Why do we think their experience with media is any different? Given the on-demand and portable nature of digital technologies, physicians frequently use whatever media format or device they have access to at the precise moment they want to answer a question—whether it be their laptop, smart phone, or tablet device. And the lightning speed at which they search, locate, consume, and process the information rarely exceeds that same 5-7 minutes.

We know that physicians are highly educated and can make sense of complex scientific information. And we know that digital repositories can house vast amounts of data. That does not mean that clients or agencies should throw good-usability practices out the window by serving up long and complex experiences when physicians go online for information. It is important to communicate your message effectively via all the different sources physicians use, especially on the popular, shorter-form technologies like smart phones/apps, tablet devices, and electronic medical record (EMR) systems. Whether physicians are seeking information on your brand or you are intercepting them during another activity, your message needs to be sensitive to their time limitations and the limitations of the medium they are using.


Let’s consider the physician’s digital landscape. While many smaller information-providers play in the media space, just five to ten major publishers provide the lion’s share of what physicians consume, regardless of specialty. And physicians (unlike patients) access their preferred health-information sources very frequently—at least daily, if not multiple times per day.

So physicians return to the same places repeatedly, which means that creative can become overexposed very quickly. The more often your creative appears, the shorter its shelf life will be…and the more important it becomes to have more creative options in play at any given time and rotate them regularly. “Creative” here refers to messages, calls to action, and design execution…and, ideally, all three should shift dynamically. The lack of consistently refreshed creative is one of the top reasons for poor performance for a digital media plan.

Competition for media inventory is at a premium and white space (areas for exclusive brand presence) is almost non-existent. Many marketers are targeting the same physicians, so your creative must stand out and offer the physician value. To continually stay top-of-mind with physicians, you need to consistently give them new reasons to engage.


The real opportunity to be impactful with your digital media campaign lies between a static, one-size-fits-all approach and an overly dynamic approach where there is so much customization that it ultimately costs too much or can’t get approved.

Messages should be customized to the needs of the targeted audience segments, optimized to fit the delivery medium, and appropriate for the way physicians use those channels. There must also be at least some variation in the message or creative over time to sustain interest and maintain relevancy.

Today’s marketers need to embrace dynamism to be successful.

Figuring out the balance that works is all about prioritization—prioritization of the segments, messages or programs that help them reach their performance goals while simultaneously meeting the needs of the physician, and prioritization of the media that are most frequently used and have the best opportunity to communicate their messages in the most compelling way.

The best way to do this is to make sure that the media team works closely with the creative team. In order to get the most from your campaign and all of your assets, make sure before launch to determine how to leverage creative and copy for additional uses. Do this before you build anything, and then build it to be easily repurposed. And make it modular, so that pieces can be used independently. Have conversations with the MLR team early on, so that they understand the wide intended uses up front.

Additionally, many media publishers will take on the bulk of the creative development at low or no cost, in exchange for what they expect to make on the media buy. This can save you significant dollars—but be forewarned that good strategic and tactical direction and oversight (whether by the brand or the agency) are still key.

Finally, if creative simply can’t be refreshed over time due to budget constraints, consider consolidating your media spend into shorter, more focused, micro-campaigns.

  • Irene Coyne

    Irene Coyne is VP/Director, Media at Digitas Health, based in Philadelphia, PA. She has more than 13 years of digital healthcare media expertise spanning more than 25 brands and 15 therapeutic categories.