Data management programs enabled with technology has completely changed the way in which marketers buy media today. A growing number of companies are embracing technologies that facilitate media transactions in real-some time and at a granular level. Programmatic buying ecosystem is in the core of the revolution and contains triggered a paradigm shift from medical marketing companies buying to targeted ad placements based on user behavior.
Programmatic buying means sale and buy of media in real time in a automated manner through software and algorithms. Automation is live and accurate to such extent it not just saves time but additionally improves efficiencies with regards to ROIs and reaching a potential audience with laser-guided precision.
While Programmatic buying has not yet yet taken the healthcare domain by storm, a buzz throughout the topic has begun getting louder in recent years.
Media buying in healthcare quintessentially has been carried out in a regular manner through sales teams approaching publishers either offline or online and then go using a long process RFQs, negotiations, preparing artworks and specs modifications, purchase indenting, vendor onboarding and finally releasing payment. And all of this convoluted process has to undergo before the ad is even published. Hence there exists a lag between purchase intent and actual media release. And that is certainly what Programmatic is great at solving.
So, just how does Programmatic buying works and why hasn’t it caught the imaginations of healthcare marketer yet? Allow us to dig into details.
How can Programmatic Buying Works? The Programmatic Ecosystem
First, let us understand some frequently used terms utilized in the Programmatic Buying world as well as just how the Programmatic ecosystem really works.
When a user clicks on a web page containing a promotional space on it, the publisher from the website sends a cookie to user’s web browser (Chrome, Internet Explorer, Bing… whichever).
What is Cookie: Cookie, in simple terms, is a small data file which is sent from publisher’s web server to user’s web browser which serves to establish user’s identity
In the event an inventory (advertising space over a webpage) is available, it triggers a request from publisher’s Ad Server for their Supply Side Platform (SSP) to fill the Ad slot
Concept of SSP: You might think of Supply Side Platforms (SSPs) similar to a library or storehouse of Ad Inventories designed for placing your advertisement. This is a platform that connects sellers (internet sites, blogs, directories etc.) with buyers or advertisers who compete against the other for available Ad space.
A number of the well-known supply side platforms are AppNexus, PubMatic, AOL or Google’s DoubleClick Ad Exchange.
SSP then issues a bid request to Demand Side Platform (DSP). This bid request contains details about the user who is going to view the Ad like her demographic profile, browsing history, etc. This information helps DSPs to help make an educated decision in regards to a user before making a bid.
Just what is a DSP? : Demand Side Platform or DSP, because they are referred in programmatic world, is really a doorway to purchase advertising space inside an automated fashion. Consider DSPs as advertiser’s gatekeepers who matches inventories with buyer’s marketing objectives. DSPs make bidding decision on the part of a buyer after evaluating parameters like publisher’s profile, ad placement, the floor price of available impression, etc.).
A number of better-known DSPs include DoubleClick Bid Manager by Google, AdMission, MediaMath etc.
In line with the algorithm, DSPs assesses inventories to find out how valuable the impression is and whether to take part in the auction with respect to an advertiser. If DSP decides to participate in in bid auction, it sends a bid response straight back to SSP
SSP gathers all bid responses and picks a success depending on the second-price auction, that means, the one that bids slightly on top of the second highest bidder.
SSP notifies winning DSP as well as the DSP, in turn, sends Ad serving code to SSP. Finally, SSP passes on Ad serving code to user’s browser and renders the Ad. The Ad is then served as well as other content with a website.
And these steps take place in a lightning speed at the back end as the page loads!
Varieties of Programmatic Buying
Programmatic Buying, as you may know now, is automated buying of ad space on a web site. There are actually fundamentally 2 types of programmatic buying according to regardless of if the ad space or inventory is bought through auction (Auction based) or by paying a fixed rate to the publisher (fixed price).
Open auction: This will depend on real-time auction-based bidding. Most prevalent of all programmatic buying
Invitation-only auction: This too is auction-based but bidding has limitations to pick advertisers selected from a publisher. More premium inventory sold at a higher price. Some publishers give ‘first look’ benefit to some advertisers before ad space is visible to others
Unreserved fixed interest rate: Price is prefixed but no ad space is placed aside in advance
Automated guaranteed or Programmatic premium: It becomes an automated procedure for buying guaranteed ad space that doesn’t involve an auction, the location where the cost is prefixed and impressions are guaranteed. Generally, this sort is most premium of all types.
Scope of Programmatic Buying in Healthcare
Programmatic marketing has not yet taken medical industry by storm yet by any stretch of your imagination, especially so in India. Although this marketing phenomenon is discussed in marketing conferences and agency boardrooms nonetheless its role remains to be restricted to lexicons and concept as an alternative to on actual spending of promoting dollars. Out of your global spending of USD 22 Bn on Programmatic buying in 2015, spending in India had been a mere USD 25 M making it just above 1% share (Source: Media Global report cited in eMarketer )
By 2018, it’s projected how the healthcare industry will spend $2.2 billion on digital media. With roughly 40% of all the media buys being programmatic, healthcare marketers use a great opportunity on his or her hands. Not merely is programmatic the latest buzzword, yet it is estimated that 70% of most media buys will probably be programmatic in 2016. That’s significant growth over 2 years.
Healthcare media buying in India continues to be predominantly done through traditional spray-and-pray, at best loosely targeted media campaigns involving humans (read- sales team) that negotiate with publishers or media agencies to get ad space or inventory. Programmatic buying, alternatively, allows precision and previously unthought-of granularity to attain target customers with better engagement minimizing costs. Let me present some real life scenarios to take home the impact of Programmatic Buying online dental marketing.
Imagine you will be visiting nearby pharmacy store to buy sugar control medication after performing some online search about medicines dosage and unwanted effects. Suddenly your smartphone buzzes. Curious to understand, you look at the inbox and locate email message inviting you to definitely require a free diabetes check-up at a Clinic merely a block from what your location is.
Almost scary, isn’t it! Well, this is just what Programmatic can perform. It reaches your predefined customers or audience in the right moment with a right message. And all of this happens in milliseconds in an automated fashion, thanks to footprints, or say Cookies, you left while searching the net.
Programmatic buying has evolved the approach from rendering same advertising message to an incredible number of customers to creating a unique message for individual customers based upon her need at that moment of your time. A evidence of concept for this could be how medical insurance may be bought by using a Programmatic platform.
While you were renewing medical insurance policy online for the parents, an advertisement banner flashed across your laptop screen proclaiming to offer better coverage with accessories in a lesser premium. The content is so timely and apt that you could not resist but clicking the ad. It feels that ‘someone’ is following your foot trails online. It ends up that there is definitely ‘someone’ that follow users to offer messages which are very apt and timely.
In such a way, data analytics may be the lifeblood of automated buying. Although an enormous volume of details are gathered in the medical industry, for instance, a hospital, almost no from it is used effectively to develop effective data-driven strategy.
First party data sources in hospitals like patient registration kiosk of Hospital Information System, CRMs or even a Website could be used to capture customer intent by placing a cookie on customer’s browser that may then follow and track a customer’s online journey and place meaningful and compelling messages to operate a vehicle engagement with patients or customers. This primary data plus a second-party data from affiliates or online subscription agencies and third-party data bought from outside data aggregators like telecom companies, other CRMs etc., is clustered to create homogenous band of audiences having similar traits like age, web surfing history, online purchases, content sharing on social media marketing, medical content consumed, etc.
We will conjure up a probable scenario for the hospital that is about to launch Diabetes Management Program and wants to reach targeted audience using their primary data base gathered over past years. Data points like e-mail address and make contact with variety of patients undergoing care under endocrinologist would be a good audience pool to perform targeted messages using GSP (Gmail Sponsored Promotions) or RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads) campaigns. While a GSP would enable messages being sent to prospective patient’s Gmail inbox, the RLSA campaign would ensure that message is rendered on user’s SERPs wherever they use the web.
The good thing of programmatic advertising is that it can integrate all media delivery options and provide the message to right audiences wherever they live online whether it be video, search ads, mobile, display or social media marketing. Such media optimization gets a captive and engaged audience to marketers leading to maximum value from marketing dollar spent.
Say you would like to target women in their early 40s residing in North Bangalore for promoting breast cancer screening. Programmatic-method of carrying this out is deliver your message for the in-market audience directly by capturing basic patient’s intent and then tracking their online behavior. For example, say 45-year-old women who visited your Oncology web page and is also searching information online on “prevention of breast cancer”.
Programmatic Buying allows you to cater to your unique audience who seems to be at the far end of buyer’s journey and possesses a better propensity of purchasing in case your message touches their cord. Programmatic Buying helps you to track investment or in other words, makes returns attributable. Advertising has become a niche endeavor and Programmatic Buying has arrived as being a potent tool in marketers purpose to unravel key steps to niche marketing.
Programmatic Buying includes its share of challenges and unethical practices that digital marketers ought to stand guard against. Such bad practices permeate over the Programmatic ecosystem and so are omnipresent across industries including healthcare.
In a highly regulated healthcare sector, these challenges are even more evident. So allow me to address some burning issues plaguing the Programmatic Buying in healthcare
1) Restrictions on retargeting: Hospital industry is slow to adapt programmatic buying because medical ethics restrict any type of advertising to patients, even the audience retargeting using cookies
2) Ad misplacement: Ad placement while attempting to reach a prospect, say a health care provider inside a non-clinical environment similar to a Game Center or Expedia Travel site could actually dilute significance of brand and message
3) Control: As mentioned before, Demand Side Platforms are aggregators of inventory and make them available for Advertisers. However, in medical industry, hardly any reputed medical publishers like PubMed, WebMD, The Lancet, NEJM etc. may renounce control over their inventory to let open ad ecosystem like Programmatic dominate. That is why most medical publishers still prefer reserved, non-auction according to programmatic buying like either Programmatic Direct.
4) Higher costs: Because of publisher’s reluctance towards open-auction bidding in healthcare for reasons stated above, cost per impression (CPM) is beyond in other industries like retail and travel.
5) Inventory scale: Since ad spaces on medical sites has limitations and finite, mostly they can be bought via direct 1-to-1 Publisher-Advertiser model creating inflated CPMs and suboptimal performance parameters (read ROI)
6) Stale-on-Sale:General impression is the fact a media bought through Programmatic model can be a leftover, remnant inventory. This may not be entirely untrue in healthcare either. Media space buying in healthcare predominantly is through direct buyout involving humans or direct buyout involving automation, called the Programmatic Direct. Hence, precisely what is left can be a less coveted, tier-2 inventory. Although buying this inventory could help derive engagement at far lower cost.
7) Private Healthcare Ad Exchanges:In view of medical data security, misplacements and privacy issues in healthcare, some proponents of exclusive healthcare ad exchanges emerged. In fact there are already some media buying platforms in healthcare like MM&M, Compas etc. that permit automated buying to healthcare publishers. However, considering that transparency and neutrality of open buying platform will be compromised with such agencies, there is little incentive for advertisers to do business with such private ad exchanges. Besides, scale and inventory available with such private exchanges can also be limited in comparison to full-service media agencies.
Aside these challenges which are specific to medical industry, Programmatic Buying has some inherent issues that are pervasive across industries. For example some outlined below:
8) Non-human traffic: Non-human traffic or the NHT as is commonly referred in Programmatic world is regarded as the prevalent method of fraud whereby programs imitate desired online behavior and register false matrices like impressions, views or clicks. Bots pretend being actual humans while actually they may be part of malware that inflates the performance matrices by masquerading as organic activity. Common samples of this is certainly paid ‘likes’ or ‘ 1s’ on social media marketing.
9) Viewability: Viewability is the probability of an advert to be seen. Frequently a big proportion of impressions that advertisers pay for goes unseen either on account of below-the-fold 60dextpky or user might scroll a page too rapidly to view the ad.
Ad blocking: Today’s sophisticated programs allow users to remove advertising while browsing the internet or using apps. Most publishers and professional bloggers depend on advertising since the main way to obtain their revenue. And with ad blocking in place, a blogger would lose an incentive to produce free-to-consume content unless the alternate stream of revenue is offered to them. Likewise, publisher websites lose interest since their revenue model based on content-for-advertising is compromised
Programmatic buying is a huge prominent inclusion in marketer’s quiver since last decade. Medical industry has been slow to wake up to this particular phenomenon as a result of industry-specific challenges. However, adoption of data, involvement of social media companies and proliferation of healthcare specific ad networks to deal with automated buying in healthcare would only mitigate these challenges.
The plastic surgeon seo including hospitals and pharmaceutical companies would be a good idea to consider programmatic buying included in a core marketing plan and move from broad, segment-based marketing to specific fine-grained messages crafted to bring in, nurture and convert potential prospects or patients.