Social media: does it affect our mental health?

Social media does it affect our mental health 195x130Can you remember the days before DM, hashtags and emojis? When we had to call our friends on their landlines to arrange when and where to meet, hoping they would arrive at the right time and right place?

It’s hard to believe that 10 years ago Facebook had only just been founded and Twitter hadn’t even launched, and yet social media is now an established phenomenon that most of us can’t imagine living without.

The wonder of social media has benefited modern society greatly and revolutionised the way we communicate. On the surface, these platforms may seem harmless but in reality, some research has found that they may actually be detrimental to our mental wellbeing. On the flip side, social media can provide people living with mental health problems a platform to communicate freely and connect with others who can provide support.

So should we be limiting our use of social media for a better quality of life, or is it actually providing some with a much-needed outlet? We hosted a panel discussion at Social Media Week in London, where experts shared their insights on this very topic.

An interesting theme that was raised during the discussion was personal identity and the effect that social media has on how people regard their place in the world and define themselves. Dr Linda Papadopoulos, a psychologist, revealed that nowadays it’s not just the people we know who help to shape our identity—having an online profile means that validation can come from complete strangers with no real vested interest in us. This constant feeling of being assessed by others can have a negative effect on our mental health and make us want to always make a good impression, even to those who don’t know us.

Another thought-provoking point that was highlighted, by the panellist and blogger Mark Brown, was that having immediate access to carefully crafted selfies means that we are the first generation to know exactly what we look like and how we come across to strangers at all times. More and more we are presenting ourselves as near to perfect as possible, but the truth is that we don’t always know what’s going on behind a filtered online persona. Stories that we see in the media about suicide that link to the use of social media highlight that a self-curated online identity can so easily conceal the saddening reality.

While there were discussions around the negative effects that social media can have on our lives, Chris Cox, Communications Director at Mind, emphasised how social media forums, such as Elefriends, provide platforms for people to communicate freely about their condition. They also give people an opportunity to connect with others who can relate to them or who can provide comfort and counsel.

So is social media a good or bad thing for mental health? Because social media is such a new and emerging area, it’s difficult to say at this point, but what is clear is that, used in the right way, it can be a valuable resource that exposes us to information and people who we would have never been able to access before. As our panel concluded, social media is neither good nor bad; it’s a tool to amplify the voice of the people.

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I’m excited about the new Facebook Search!

Facebook Search

The new Facebook Search feature is a pretty robust tool that we should be excited about as both marketers and users. Here are a few thoughts, as well as a few predictions around where Facebook might be going with this.

As a regular Facebook user, I was really impressed by the amount of content I was served up when I did a simple search for “cough.” The results were divided into three buckets: Pages, Friends and Groups, and Public Posts – and the keyword was highlighted in each of the posts. There is also a sub-navigation that lets users filter results by Top, Latest, Photos, Videos, Places, and even Apps and Events. Having immediate access to relevant posts that were outside my network was really refreshing, and it was cool to see who was talking about coughs within my network specifically. It will be interesting to see how the results will update during a political event or a big game. In many ways, it reminds me of the way current events can be followed on Twitter.

For users who have privacy concerns, this new feature should raise red flags. Facebook provides users with privacy settings in the actual post window that allow them to choose who can view their post. Those rules will continue to hold true within the search results. If your post is only visible to your friends, then it would only appear in the search results of users in your immediate network. If it is a public post, it will be visible outside of your network. The same applies to comments on posts, as well.

As marketers, we should be excited about the role that brands can play within this new space. Since this is new to all of us, we don’t yet understand the rhyme or reason behind the order of the posts that are displayed when a user searches. That being said, this is a great opportunity for brands to ensure their social engagement strategy is buttoned up. Brands need to be ultra-focused on creating relevant content on their feeds that is keyword-rich, and that includes image and video descriptions.

It will be a matter of time before we are able to advertise in this space. Like Google, media buys will likely dictate your brand’s rank within the search results in the Pages section, with native advertising appearing throughout the Public Posts. When we factor in the Buy Products feature, it’s easy to see how Facebook can begin to position itself as a direct competitor to Google and Amazon, although I think that’s still some ways away.

Visit to hear all about it from the proverbial horse’s mouth.

This article was originally posted on Ivan Ruiz Graphic & Web Design.

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Do we need a healthcare awards show?

Health_AwardsWith all but one or two award shows done and dusted for the year, I can honestly say that I have been delighted to see the standard of creativity in healthcare grow from strength to strength. It’s been inspiring, but at the same time it’s been frustrating.

Recently I judged at one of the major healthcare award shows along with some of the industry’s best—people I respect deeply.

We had some interesting conversations around a few of the entries. The main discussion point being, is this really health?

Saving dogs, a hashtag for mums about how amazing their child is, helping hungry people or recruiting medical staff for the armed forces—for me seems broader than health or not even health at all.

We did discuss the fact that it lifted the game in terms of thinking and execution, but it was acting as a guide stick of where we need to be rather than being a true health entry.

But do these types of entries make the interactive visual aid that has been under the red pen of medical advisors feel boring? Does it make the print ad idea that has made it through the treacherous journey of a pharmaceutical marketing department and research group feel flat? Does it make the medical education program that the regulatory body has scrutinised to the inch of its life look dull?
The answer is yes.

There is no place for pharmaceutical work in a current healthcare awards show. If it isn’t bringing you on the brink of tears or changing the world as we know it, it won’t get a real look in. It will be blindsided.

So should we have a healthcare awards show? Why not simply have a health category in the mainstream shows?

Think we know the answer to that one.

The bigger question is (and part of the reason why award shows were there in the first place), how are we going to lift pharmaceutical communications to a better standard? How are we going to inspire true healthcare agencies that live and breathe health every day?

I believe they deserve to be judged in a very different way.
The idea and great execution, without a doubt should be there. But pharmaceutical communications goes deeper than that. It’s the strategy that creatively and intelligently weaves its way through the minefield of regulations and treatment indications. The medical writing that’s taken highly scientific information and made it code-compliant yet highly persuasive to a cynical physician.

So with all this in mind, I believe we do need an awards show for healthcare, but it has to be very different from the shows we currently have. They are mostly celebrating work that’s for the good of man (or animal) kind and I believe you could tack anything to that and call it health.

Pharma is a weird and wonderful world and a very specialised one, so when it comes to judging creativity, should it not be seen through a slightly different lens?

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Google Changes Search Ad Format For Pharma Brands

Search-For-PharmaGoogle has announced that it will be updating the Google Search ad format it offers to healthcare and pharmaceutical brands. This change affects support for pharmaceutical brands with black box warnings and those that require adverse event information as part of the ad.

URL architecture for black box brands

As of July 20, 2015, Google will be moving to a common AdWords format that no longer supports an additional line of copy and additional URL for black box brands and those requiring adverse event language. This is an evolution that is optimized for its paid search marketing solution that has been available to pharmaceutical advertisers for the last five years.

An example of how a brand might be using search engine marketing in Google AdWords before and after the July 20th update:

Pre-July 20th AdWords Example:
Brand Ad 1
Post-July 20th AdWords Example:
Brand Ad 2




What does this change mean for pharma brands?
Brands that are currently using Google AdWords for marketing will need to consider a rewrite of existing creative and landing pages. The pages that the new AdWords ad links to will need to prominently feature adverse events information for the product. This will require revisiting of search marketing strategies as well as potential user experience and design changes to optimize inbound traffic from paid search campaigns.

Brands currently using paid search programs with Google should leverage Google’s Sitelinks feature, which provides several links to content within a product website within the AdWords format. Product managers and agencies should also reinvest in paid mobile search with this change, as there is a broader efficiency with this change in having a single ad format for all platforms (desktop and mobile search).

Post-July 20th AdWords Example with Sitelinks:
Brand Ad 3

The changes to Google’s AdWords program will have a significant impact on pharma brand website marketing performance as well as the cost of paid search solutions currently used for search engine marketing programs. Expect to see changes in your category as well as behavioral changes for your paid and organic search performance.

Next steps
The changes to Google’s AdWords program will affect every brand using paid search for healthcare professional and consumer engagement. Work with your agency partner to identify the best counter-measures for these changes and how to recalculate your performance metrics.

Ogilvy CommonHealth offers digital strategy, content strategy, creative development, and analytics services for all of our clients to guide brand leadership through these and any future changes to search engine marketing and market changes in digital and traditional media.

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The Digital Health Revolution: Transforming the Patient Journey

The Digital Health Revolution Blog Image 2Around the world, one in every four people is using social media. Whether they are sharing a funny cat video, advice on dating, or their personal experiences living with a chronic illness, there are nearly two billion people connecting with one another through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other social platforms, forever transforming the way humans communicate. This social media ecosystem also is ushering in a “digital health revolution.” Whether through their desktops, laptops, or mobile devices, people seeking medical and wellness information first check with their social networks.

Pharmaceutical companies have started entering the social media waters – — most with one toe in first. Given the increasing dependence on the digital world, social media is a natural touch point for companies to connect with the patients and healthcare providers (HCPs) they serve. Becoming truly social has not been an easy proposition for a conservative industry. But we have reached a tipping point, where social interaction is becoming critically important for the industry, and one that is blowing the lid off of the traditional way of communicating with stakeholders.

In the old paradigm, a pharmaceutical brand issues an advertisement that directs patients and HCPs to a website where they are provided one-sided information and an overall static experience. Patients are then directed to “talk to your doctor,” and that is where the interaction ends. Within the new social paradigm, patients, HCPs and pharmaceutical companies can have real conversations about the topics that are important to all of them. Patients also can access information and answers to their questions much faster, thereby making their path to help shorter.

Pharmaceutical companies have an opportunity to interact with patients and HCPs in a more meaningful way through social media. At Ogilvy, we are helping our pharmaceutical clients navigate this new paradigm and create unbranded social networks that offer patients who have similar life experiences – — whether that is quitting smoking or managing cancer – — a safe and comfortable environment to listen, learn, and share. We believe these networks offer unique value to the industry, allowing companies to provide patients with a support system where such a community may not otherwise exist.

Social networks resolve the limitations of both time and geography that are inherent with in-person support groups. They allow people to access information targeted to their concerns and conversations with global peers at any hour from the comfort and privacy of their own couch. Social networks also empower patients to initiate and direct conversations, interacting in a way that is meaningful to them. These networks are already forming, and we believe it is vital for industry to take the lead, to serve as the connector of those conversations, and to interact so that patients are assured they are receiving the best quality and most credible information.

The social media world has clearly shifted communication patterns and habits. Pharmaceutical companies can no longer afford to remain disconnected. Social interaction and sharing will continue whether or not the industry gets more involved. By taking a more active role within these patient communities, a pharmaceutical company allows its own voice and expertise to be heard, provides its stakeholders with real value, and, equally important, ensures that competitors aren’t the only ones creating meaningful interactions and relationships with consumers.

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Are You Harnessing the Power of Video in Healthcare Yet?

Young woman with gold fish tankDid you realise that the average attention span of a person has dropped to only 8 seconds? That’s one second less than a goldfish!

Video can combat this. It is a fantastic way to hook people in and capture their attention. Online video is growing so quickly that this is an opportunity that’s impossible to ignore:

  • Views on mobile devices have increased 400% in the past 2 years
  • YouTube is now the second most popular search engine behind Google, with 40% of its traffic coming from mobile
  • 80% of online visitors will watch a video all the way through, compared with 20% who will read a webpage

Patients are being diagnosed via video, surgeons are swapping clips on operation techniques, and, as everyone is rapidly becoming more and more mobile-connected, healthcare knowledge sharing will soon have no boundaries.

It’s likely that for whatever purpose, be it for a symposium or for patient education, your video will end up online, where it will receive the majority of its views. But it’s a noisy world out there, and one rule is key: keep it short, smart, and snappy.

What kind of video content should you choose?

The great news is that there are all kinds of exciting options that won’t break the budget. Think about who the audience is and how they’ll be watching. Are they using a small screen? With or without sound? On social media? Or at a live presentation…could Dr Smith at the back please put his mobile down and watch? (Hopefully if he enjoys it he’ll search for it later online, “like” it and share with his colleagues.)

Explore the different ways to cThe Other Sideonnect with your audience. Enriched video content is great for increasing user engagement, and interactive user-defined storytelling can be a totally immersive experience. It lets you get the right messages to each individual user by letting them click on objects in the video to influence what they see. “Choose a Different Ending” is a beautiful example of a great campaign tackling knife crime that drew immediate response. And another of the best ones I’ve seen recently is The Other Side of Honda.”

Or, if you need to get more complex data across in a way that quickly informs and engages, use an animated infographic to make data come alive. These motion graphics pack a huge visual punch, are bursting with information, and are rapidly becoming key tools to promote branded messages. For a truly multi-layered, fast and constantly moving example with beautiful visual transitions, you can’t beat “STUXNET: The Virus That Almost Started WW3.”

Whatever you want to achieve, remember you’re not alone. We recommend that you use a Creative and Motion team to help you get all those questions answered on the way to making great videos.

Video is a super strategy to stand out from the competition and it’s definitely a healthcare trend that’s already here and set to keep on growing.

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Idea Is King, Guard It With Your Life

OHW Blog Image 2.20.15“In the dizzying world of moviemaking, we must not be distracted from one fundamental concept: the idea is king.” – Jeffrey Katzenberg, former Disney Chairman (’84-’94)

This fundamental concept also holds true in healthcare communications. All great work starts with a great idea. But arriving at a great idea is not enough. In our highly scrutinized and regulated world, a great idea is at risk of an untimely death at numerous points in its life. From internal creative reviews and client presentations to market research and medical/regulatory review, a great idea is often pushed aside because it looks and feels different than the status quo. A great idea makes people feel uncomfortable. But that is exactly what it should do: grab our attention and challenge our thinking.

Healthcare advertising is plagued with bad clichés, overused metaphors, and happy slice-of-life imagery. Contrast these campaigns to the quality of the work that many creatives in our industry include in their own portfolios. The difference is amazing. It’s an eye-opening experience to see the original idea that devolved to the happy couple sitting on a park bench with a benign, lackluster headline. We need to come together as a united community—creatives, account, planning, digital, and analytics —to courageously support great ideas, protecting their creative integrity all the way through final execution. Because in healthcare, great ideas can lead to more than awards; they can help save and improve lives.


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How to Have Your Digital Gadgets and Sleep Too

Haley Dix Blog Thumbnail SmallI am not one to make New Year’s resolutions, but this year I thought maybe I should go back to using a regular alarm clock and turn my digital devices off an hour before going to bed. Recent studies have proven that our beloved electronics may hinder sleep.

Although this resolution could be quite beneficial, I couldn’t help thinking about the following:

“What if I miss a breaking news alert from CNN?”
“What if I don’t respond to a time-sensitive text?”
“What if Beyoncé releases another album on Instagram at midnight?

I guess you can say I have a slight case of “Fear of Missing Out,” popularly known as FOMO. Aside from these hypothetical scenarios, you may find yourself experiencing work-related FOMO. It’s no secret that many of us use electronics to sift through emails or work-related checklists one last time before turning off the lights. Although those 30 minutes at 10 PM on Microsoft Outlook seem harmless, your production of melatonin can be effected. The blue light within electronics can increase brain activity and prevent the pineal gland from releasing melatonin hours before bedtime. This results in your body fighting off the feeling of being tired. While it is advantageous to have your devices on at work to increase alertness, if your goal is rest, blue lights can become the enemy.

So how can we enjoy technology and still gain quality rest?

The idea is gaining momentum worldwide—in 2013, Germany implemented a new practice, discouraging employees from sending work emails after hours, except in cases of emergencies. In 2014, France took to the trend, encouraging employees to turn off their phones and refrain from checking email after their work is complete. Companies such as Volkswagen, Google and Facebook have also made efforts in discouraging late-night email correspondence.

Perhaps we can impose some discipline on our social interactions, but it could be hard to enforce digital abstinence, for example, when you are working on a pitch. But we can still make an effort to promote more healthful digital habits for our teams and ourselves. Perhaps you can set an “email silence” time with your team after jobs are no longer routing for the night. Or insist on a phone call if an emergency arises, rather than constantly trading email. Anything to avoid staring at the blue light into the late hours of the night.

So whether your FOMO is attributed to social or work activities, making a few minor changes can help you enjoy your device and not compromise resting. You may even fall in love with, dare I say, paperback books again in the quest to take small breaks from your gadgets. If so, author Ann Droyd offers a humorous quick read titled Goodnight iPad that could bring a chuckle the next time you see one of your blue-light glowing friends.

If you’re not ready to go cold turkey and find yourself having a hard time being pried away from the phone or tablet, try f.lux. This program can be downloaded to your electronic devices and uses warmer lights instead of blue lights, to help the production of melatonin remain uninterrupted. With this work-around, you may be able to watch episodes of Orange Is the New Black on Netflix, sift through the week’s sports rankings, meander through Pinterest recipes for quinoa, and even pay Microsoft Outlook a visit. Just make sure you and your digital gadgets can say, “Good night.”

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Ebola Goes Viral

Ebola Blog Image2“It’s like the film with Dustin Hoffman and the monkeys,” said the woman next to me on the tube the other day. “No, it’s more like that other film with the monkeys,” said her companion. “The one where animal rights protestors release them and unleash a zombie virus on the UK.”

The truth, thankfully, is that the most recent Ebola outbreak is nothing like either of these movies. The Ebola virus has yet to mutate into a new strain that spreads like flu as it does so rapidly in Outbreak, and it seems somewhat unlikely that it is going to turn us all into flesh-eating un-dead as happens in 28 Days Later. But what exactly is it like, how much of a threat does it pose, and how are we supposed to communicate the bare facts of virus and disease in an atmosphere of panic and misinformation?

The other day, news outlets were tracing the steps of one of Ebola’s recent victims. New Yorker Dr. Craig Spencer had been all around town since returning from aid work in Guinea. He had taken the subway, visited a meatball stand and hung out at a bowling alley in Brooklyn. Normal things that a person might like to do after returning to their hometown after an intense trip abroad. But Dr. Spencer started running a high fever and was soon diagnosed with an Ebola virus infection.

Despite most reports suggesting that he had interacted with only a handful of people since becoming symptomatic, The Gutter, the bowling alley visited by Dr. Spencer, was forced to close down for two days and underwent a mass disinfection. The Meatball Shop remained open but was host to a PR stunt in which the city’s mayor visited for a meal in front of a host of cameras to prove to the general public it was safe. Which of course both of these places should be. There is nothing about the pathogenesis of Ebola that suggests we can catch it from a bowling ball or a restaurant table. Indeed the virus can barely survive for long outside the body, especially on hard, dry surfaces.

Hysterical news reporting of disease is nothing new. This time, like many other times before, it has been served up with a dollop of xenophobia. The problem, almost ignored when it is abroad and confined to countries that barely register on the Western consciousness, is treated like an unmitigated disaster when it hits home shores. Like the wave of homophobia that emerged in the wake of the HIV/AIDS crisis of the early ’80s, the tabloid media emphasis is on minimizing personal risk rather than pressuring organizations such as the UN and the WHO to act on the virus itself. We are encouraged to shut our borders, be suspicious, be vigilant, and most importantly, be afraid.

If there is something that feels different this time around, it’s the social media factor. In 2009 when swine flu panic was at its peak, we were all on Facebook, but fewer of us were active on Twitter. The surges of popularity in micro-media over the past few years have completely changed the way we consume and digest news, but also the speed at which stories spread.

Take the case of this video, which was recorded in a Chilean hospital a few weeks ago. The announcement you hear roughly translates as: “Can I have your attention, please. We have a patient who is suspected to have Ebola. Please leave the room and go to another hospital.” After the patient who took this video posted it on YouTube, it received almost 140,000 views. Soon the story migrated to Twitter, where the hashtag #EbolaChile was used over 200,000 times. All this happened incredibly fast and internationally, even though it was later revealed that the suspected Ebola was actually a case of malaria. Indeed, it has not gone unnoticed that the Ebola news is spreading faster than the virus itself.

But when things are over-egged on Twitter it only ever results in topic fatigue and silliness. Recently, actress Anne Hathaway was accused of refusing to shake an Argentinian journalist’s hand due to fear of contracting the virus. Others are making mockery of the intense US media coverage, with some users suggesting that “EBoLa could be the name of an obnoxious Manhattan neighborhood” or that “the only part of the Ebola guy that upsets me is how rich his social life seems in comparison.”

With the fast pace of social media reporting, topics that have had everyone enraged on one day can be forgotten the next. But whilst it’s easy to laugh at the jokes made at the expense of the media hysteria in the US, for the people of the West African countries most affected it is a genuine threat, and it’s not going away.

Organizations like the CDC are doing a good job of keeping up sensible dialogue about Ebola by producing factsheets on the disease and its transmission. These are clearly designed to alleviate fears about how the virus has been spread without shying away from the facts of how it is affecting the West African countries hit by the epidemic. The UN has been providing updates on the current situation, and what they are doing to combat the spread of the disease whilst the WHO have tweeted audio files from their recent press conference. The challenge for these organizations is that there is a lot of repetition in the messages that they have to send out. The advice about the virus is quite basic and in order for them to communicate this effectively they have to find new and interesting ways to dress up the facts, so as not to appear repetitive.

When developing our own disease awareness initiatives we can learn from the social media reaction to Ebola. Twitter can be a maelstrom of misinformation and flippancy, and it is important to provide clear, concise and meaningful content such as infographics and video. Although rather than share PDFs, like the organizations mentioned above, we should think about content that is easily viewable and sharable within a Twitter client. Most importantly we should remember that it’s easy for a story to get lost in a medium that moves as fast as social. Bitesize content should be deployed regularly to keep up the momentum, and we need to find creative ways of saying the same messages in different ways so we make our point without switching off our audience.

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Exploring the Programmatic Opportunity in Healthcare Professional Media

JS Blog2You don’t have to be an expert in the intricacies of programmatic media buying to understand the rapid adoption of this latest innovation in the online advertising space. According to a recent AOL survey, 76% of advertisers buy display banners via programmatic across all industries and an estimated 9.5% of the total online media investment is being bought programmatically (WFA Survey, Aug 2014). Quite simply, large-scale advertisers have realized many benefits. Recognizing the potential, Ogilvy CommonHealth Medical Media first started offering the option to our medical advertising clients back in 2012 via our in-house Demand Side Platform (DSP) technology. Four years later, we review the fundamentals of the technology and the potential benefits to professional medical advertisers, while discussing the unique market conditions our industry faces that have hindered adoption. Ultimately, we ask, “Is programmatic buying right for advertisers looking to reach busy medical professionals?”

What Is Programmatic Buying?

Making banner buys programmatic simply means automating the process via a “machine” called a Demand Side Platform (DSP). Banner buys can be programmatic with or without the element of bidding (real-time bidding, or RTB), in which case two or more advertisers compete simultaneously for the same impression, with the win going to the highest bidder. The “machine” or technology not only automates the buying process, it analyzes first- and third-party data feeds to define custom audiences and then finds these targets as they move throughout the web via banner impressions available through ad exchanges. The DSP is a comprehensive solution that assists buyers by managing data, inventory and bids.

What Is the Opportunity?

The immediate opportunity for industry is to exponentially increase brand exposure and reduce costs by targeting healthcare professionals as they move across the web, beyond pure play medical sites such as Medscape and MedPageToday. The professional medical media sector continues to rely primarily on the direct 1:1, agency: publisher buying model. Given that most medical sites have a limited supply of inventory, banner CPMs are high, often averaging over $100.00 ($250.00-$350.00 for targeted banners) and premium publishers sell out of annual inventory very quickly. The DSP model solves the inventory supply problem and simultaneously yields cost-efficiency gains. With the ability to serve banners across the web to a qualified audience, we have realized CPMs downward of $20.00.

What Are the Challenges?

In the highly regulated pharma sector, we can expect to encounter challenges with the prospect of reaching a physician on or other nonclinical environment. Privacy concerns have been paramount but not insurmountable. Many leading pharma and medical publishers have revisited registration and opt-in language on their websites in order to broaden the use of captured data. Even when site categories are tightly constricted to news, weather and travel sites, control over ad placement and content adjacency may be compromised, which can lead to concerns for brand safety. Additionally, regulatory teams remain apprehensive around serving HCP-targeted creative on consumer-centric, nonmedical sites.

If the DSP only tapped into medical inventory, these challenges could be better addressed. However, the fundamentals of programmatic buying would be turned upside down, negating many of the benefits:

  • Scale: Inventory on medical sites is limited and finite.
  • Quality: As the stewards of physician member/user data, premium healthcare publishers such as medical societies will not relinquish inventory to an exchange.
  • Efficiency: CPMs could easily surge to over $400.00 to reach the most productive physicians.
  • Demand: There is a definite cap on what professional media buyers are willing to pay for banners as a tactic—regardless of who could potentially see the ad.

Our Viewpoint

In order to realize the efficiencies of programmatic buying against a professional medical audience, advertisers must work with a partner that can tap into large-scale general market ad exchanges while validating targets on the physician level. This would provide the inventory scale needed to drive CPMs down but ensure a professional message is delivered to an appropriate audience.

Despite ongoing buzz around the launch of an industry-specific programmatic buying platform whereby HCP publishers would exclusively place inventory they are willing to sell via automation with a single media buying agency, the concept has not yet been realized. Full-service media agencies have programmatic capabilities, and given that quality, transparency and neutrality would be compromised in such a scenario, there seems little incentive for media buyers at large to work through a third-party media buying agency. The key questions:  How would advertisers be assured they had a fair bid for the most premium inventory, and how would optimizations across multiple campaigns be neutrally managed, given the size of the audience?

As discussed, retargeting professionals strictly on medical sites has some challenges. Even so, medical publishers willing to try programmatic selling on their sites should continue to work directly with all media agencies, but offer programmatic direct deals. This type of transaction closely mirrors a direct 1:1 digital sale since the inventory and pricing are negotiated and guaranteed. However, elements of the buy are automated from the RFP through campaign management. Neutrality, quality, control and transparency would remain intact, as media buyers would not be required to buy via a third-party agency and the publishers could maintain control over ad messaging, placement and user data on their sites.

There is certainly room in the medical media sector to innovate. But given the unique characteristics of our market, going programmatic may not translate into greater banner revenue for medical publishers if demand is weak and advertisers are not willing to participate due to inflated CPMs. Specialized medical publishers would be better served to innovate offerings beyond banner advertising—lead generation, native advertising, and real-time dynamic content opportunities are just a few that are long overdue.

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