Oct29

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 ESPN.com 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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Apr29

Are Banner Ads Banner Advertising?

doc writing“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half” – John Wanamaker[1]

John Wanamaker was a successful U.S. Postmaster General, as well as an effective merchant who owned many retail stores throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s. Wanamaker died in 1922, over 90 years ago.[2]

The question that plagued Wanamaker almost 100 years ago still afflicts many marketers today. Some progress has been made as current technology and data platforms, such as Site Catalyst and Google Analytics, help marketers understand who is receiving non-personal promotions (NPP) like email or direct mail. These platforms even help marketers understand who is clicking to a particular website through emails, and further actions taken after clicking through. However, these platforms cannot aid marketers in understanding the reach and actions from all different kinds of channels.

Tactics such as direct mail, email, fax, postcards, etc., are all targeted tactics. A company can deploy all of these tactics to reach a specified audience of physicians through knowing the HCP’s email, address, and name. This same company deploying these tactics may even divide their target audience into different groups through segmentation of a specialty, age, geographic region, past behavior, number of field rep visits, etc. This company can then understand which tactics are most effective for each segment. For example, direct mail can include a vanity URL, which hematologists may take the most action on. Likewise, pulmonologists may have the most website downloads after clicking through an email. These realizations can help a company specify future marketing communication so that HCPs are individually receiving the NPP that is most appropriate for them.

Targeted tactics can help us understand a lot about an audience, but how does a marketer understand promotions such as banners? Or actions taken on a website if the website does not require registration? How does a marketer attribute these non-targeted tactics back to specific physicians in their target audience? Most healthcare brands cannot currently attribute the money spent on banners and website content to specific HCPs. Companies can engage in cookies or fingerprinting software tracking, but this tracking technology can prove costly and comes with a privacy controversy.[3]

While most healthcare brands are not at an advanced tracking level, marketers can estimate which HCPs in their target audience are viewing which banners. This means we can estimate who these banners are reaching, and who is taking further action on these banners.

We can estimate the effects that banner clicks are having on total response rate, and even the effect of banners on script writing.

We calculate this estimated reach attribution through first breaking up the United States into 212 different designated marketing areas (DMAs). With simple banner tracking, we can then look at which DMAs are receiving the highest number of impressions, and which are receiving the lowest. Then, we can look at each DMA at the HCP level. As long as we understand who exists in a brand’s target audience, we will have each HCP’s address, and can then tell which DMA an HCP lives/works in.

Next, we develop a reach threshold to begin to estimate who each non-targeted tactic is reaching. We take the average number of impressions per HCP in a DMA to develop the reach threshold. If the number of impressions in a DMA were over a predetermined amount, then we would assume that all of the physicians in that DMA have seen the banner. Likewise, if the number of impressions in a DMA were below a certain amount, we would estimate that none of the targeted physicians in that particular DMA have seen the banner.

While our understanding of non-targeted tactic reach is only at the estimation level, this can help us increase our understanding of total reached HCPs, and what channels have reached these HCPs. One healthcare drug in particular, before this estimated reach was analyzed, showed a 93.9% reach certainty through targeted tactics. With the estimated reach analysis added, the brand saw that banner impressions increased their overall reach to 99.7%, and 95.6% of HCPs were estimated to have been touched with banner impressions. This brand had invested a big portion of their budget in banner impressions, and they were ecstatic to find out that banners had reached over 95% of their targeted audience.

This idea of estimated reach could be rolled out to several industries beyond healthcare as a way to fully understand the impact of all tactics without extensive tracking methods. After all, the most important thing that marketers want to know is which half of their advertising budget is money well spent.

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Dec17

The Death of the Press Release?

veer imageDid all PR professionals feel a slight shudder of fear upon hearing that Ashley Brown, digital communications and social media lead for The Coca-Cola Company, has vowed to “kill the press release”? I did, but only for a moment. After all, Mr. Brown’s proclamation came during a presentation called “Brand journalism at Coca-Cola: Content, data, and cutting through noise,” where he was outlining the company’s content marketing strategy. Content marketing is the most exciting, and some would say revolutionary, marketing innovation in recent years. It puts the consumer, rather than the brand, at the centre of communications. Instead of pushing out brand messages, content marketers are creating videos, infographics and other pieces of engaging, sharable content that respond to consumer desires and needs, thus creating brand awareness and loyalty.

But why should this mean the death of the press release? In healthcare communications, press releases are a fundamental tool for communicating complex data about diseases and new treatments. Without press releases, reporters working on daily or hourly deadlines would find it nearly impossible to sift through and decipher the news from every clinical trial published in a peer-reviewed journal. A well-crafted press release can help a journalist understand how a p value translates into clinical value for a patient.

Instead of being replaced by content, should press releases be considered a medium for delivering content? Multimedia press releases containing video clips, visuals, infographics and animations are replacing the standard written-word-only release. In addition, with the proliferation of online medical news websites and portals, press releases are increasingly being published in full rather than being used as background information for a news item.

PR professionals can embrace this and ensure that press releases are optimised for search, by judicious use of keywords in headlines and the first paragraph. We can optimise for sharing by crafting “tweet ready” headlines. We can consider the press release a starting point for telling a rich and rounded story that is expressed through a variety of content.

Content marketing is a brave new world for pharma marketers and healthcare communications, and I look forward to taking clients on this journey. However we cannot leave the press release behind.  Long live the press release!

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Also posted in behavior change, content marketing, Healthcare Communications, Marketing, press release, Public Relations, Strategy | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment
Oct11

High Hopes for Better Banners

Banners have appeared in the same size and location on websites for many years. Over time, people have become trained to subconsciously block them out. This is known as banner blindness or burnout.

Earlier this year, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) rolled out new ad units aimed at revitalizing the digital marketplace. In February, they debuted their Rising Star display ad units: new sizes rich with interactivity. Agency creative directors, media executives, publishers and ad operations specialists were polled and sifted through many ad variations to select six top ad units. Categories evaluated included user experience, branding, functionality, integration and adoption. The hopes are that the new Billboard, Filmstrip and Sidekick will soon become as familiar as the Skyscraper and Leaderboard.

The Rising Star ads imbed a wide variety of interactive features within the banners. This will greatly benefit campaigns with the sole objective of awareness, which tends to be harder to evaluate. The Rising Stars will yield interaction metrics, measuring engagement for the person who never clicks on the ad. The new ad units have a proven significant lift in brand perception and recall compared to standard display. Users are 2.5 times more likely to interact with a Rising Star ad, interact with it two times faster, and spend twice as much time interacting with it than with standard display (http://www.iab.net/media/file/IABRisingStarsAdUnitsvsStandardAdUnitsFINAL.pdf). Check out this video to see them in action: .

However, the acceptance of the ad units has been slow in the consumer world, which means even slower in the healthcare space. Comscore noted that top 25 properties like Yahoo, CBS and Glam Media all support the Rising Stars, but they were unsure whether sites like Amazon, Turner Digital, Vevo and Gannett would support the units.

When we learned of the Rising Stars, Ogilvy CommonHealth Medical Media began proactively reaching out to our vendors, asking them to consider accepting the new ad sizes, knowing we could be waiting a long time for them to adopt them on their own. We polled 12 major digital healthcare publishers and were pleased to learn the majority are willing to accept the ad units. We urged them to consider the ad units, promising digital healthcare fame for the first to market.

We understand that other challenges with the ad uptake will be execution and technology. The ads will take a long time to build, require large resources, and be complex. The initiative will require on-boarding creative agencies with material specs and resources for consideration. We will need the support of our clients to fund the ad development, as it will take more time. While a bigger investment, the ads could provide a solution for brands with messaging limitations due to black box and other safety warnings. The banners also provide another opportunity to syndicate brand assets, patient education, videos, slide decks, etc. This captures an engaged audience without relying on heavy site traffic, knowing that a large percentage of HCPs will not visit the “brand.com” site.

While publishers are willing to take a leap forward, it will be interesting to see if physicians are ready for the new ads. Some vendors still prohibit Rich Media to protect their audience from distracting and disruptive ads interfering with their online experience. We will recommend agencies use an editing eye during ad development, carefully utilizing the features without taking advantage of them.

The same initiative is ongoing for mobile. Digital marketers have not yet scratched the surface with smartphone and tablet advertising. OCHMM is noting which vendors will accept these new Mobile Rising Stars and collecting specs and examples for creative agencies. Some new mobile ad units include the Mobile Filmstrip, Pull, and Full Page. More information on the Mobile Rising Stars can be found here:  http://www.iab.net/risingstarsmobile#1. Watch them in action:

Our goal is to supply agencies, vendors, and clients with information early on to aid and support the development of Rising Star ads. Once executed, we believe the metrics will speak for themselves. If you have any questions or would like to know how this can work for your brands, please contact Ogilvy CommonHealth Medical Media.

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