Accurate targeting is vital to all digital marketers. But it’s especially critical in the world of healthcare, where advertisers must balance HIPAA privacy constraints with wasteful spending practices that reach non-relevant audiences.

Annual spending by healthcare and pharmaceutical companies continues to break estimates, making it the fastest-growing digital advertising category after computing products and consumer electronics. However, just 35% of patients say they consider pharmaceutical advertising relevant to them.

Unfortunately, accurately targeting relevant audiences is about to get much, much harder. Looming deadlines that will soon phase out the use of third-party cookies require careful consideration of new, more effective ways to reach both patients and healthcare providers.

Rising to this challenge, many marketers are turning to a new generation of demand-side platforms (DSPs), especially those purposely built for the needs of healthcare to enable better targeting while balancing modern privacy concerns.

DSPs and the Cookie-less Future

Though Google has delayed removing third-party cookies from its platform, it is still vital that the industry continues to innovate new ways to target audiences.

Working in partnership with publishers, which can provide this high-quality, first-party data in a way that is anonymizable, DSPs can give advertisers certainty that they’re reaching qualified audiences—helping ensure the continued effectiveness of their campaigns once cookies are phased out.

But not all DSPs are built the same. For instance, not all DSPs feature integrations with a wide variety of endemic publishers, and not all are optimized to deliver and report on relevant patient outcomes, such as script lift.

Since DSPs are significant investments, it’s vital that marketers clearly understand exactly what they’re paying for—and how different DSPs compare side by side. Below are three attributes that healthcare marketers should consider to guide their decision-making process to ensure valuable outcomes well into the future:

1. Protects Audience Privacy

To avert the potential leak of personal information from anonymized healthcare data, DSPs must prioritize measures that mask the identity of ad recipients while preserving the value of audience targeting—a task easier said than done. When evaluating potential platforms, consider whether an independent healthcare data compliance and certification company has evaluated the platform to meet HIPAA de-identification standards. Healthcare marketers no longer have to choose between accuracy and scale, with secure ways to automatically anonymize patient identifiers.

2. Reaches Patients and Providers Across Any Device

DSPs shine when they enable marketers to reach their audiences wherever they are—and are less valuable as niche platforms that require media buyers to manually manage additional channels. Therefore, DSPs need to offer all channels where potential audiences consume information, including display, video, audio, native, e-newsletters, and connected TV (CTV). Missing even one channel such as CTV, which is expected to grow 48.6% this year as more and more Americans cut the cord, can limit the potential effectiveness. Finally, while reaching audiences across devices, it is important to maintain cross-device tracking capabilities for better optimization as a whole for a given user.

3. Leverages Machine Learning or Artificial Intelligence to Optimize Targeting 

With so much available inventory and increasing competition, artificial intelligence and machine learning are becoming increasingly important in achieving performance metrics. Real-world campaigns leveraging this technology have shown the potential to increase audience quality by 30% as demonstrated in a DeepIntent client case study, helping deliver information that’s actually relevant and pertinent to an individual’s health.

Selecting a DSP That’s Built for the Future of Healthcare

Over the past 20 years, DSPs helped usher in a new era of programmatic advertising. They have taken the guesswork out of digital advertising by making media buying much more targeted and efficient. Yet, advertising in healthcare often casts too wide a net as marketers strive to strike a balance between accuracy and scale. This work is set to become even harder as the advertising industry faces a sea change with the phasing out of third-party cookies, and millions of dollars in wasteful spending per year at stake.

Amid this shifting environment, choosing a next-generation DSP built for the needs of healthcare marketers—with vast omnichannel integrations and strong privacy protections, as well as targeting features to reach patients and providers across devices—has never been more critical.

  • Anton Yazovskiy

    Anton Yazovskiy is the Chief Technology Officer of DeepIntent. He leads the healthcare marketing technology company’s global engineering team to design solutions that help advertisers positively influence patient health and business outcomes. Before DeepIntent, he held the position of director of engineering at Lineate.

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