A Guide to Audience Targeting for Health Brands

Traditionally, there has been a tradeoff in direct-to-consumer (DTC) healthcare advertising between cost, reach, and audience quality. While advertising in contextually relevant endemic websites will reach a qualified audience, there is limited inventory available. To scale advertising campaigns effectively, pharma marketers need to reach high-quality audiences wherever they are consuming content.

The goal of any pharma marketing campaign is to maximize new patient starts. With fixed budgets, this is only possible by finding the optimal mix of quality targeting, cost, and reach. If a campaign is too small, it won’t have a meaningful impact on patient acquisition. Poor targeting will result in inefficient buys—spending too much money to reach smaller, clinically relevant audiences. And very expensive campaigns will allocate too many resources to driving too few new patients.

Enter health data audience segments. This is the ultimate tool for healthcare marketers to achieve high audience quality with efficient spend and meaningful reach.

To find the right vendor to deliver health data for audience targeting across channels and devices, media agencies and pharma brand marketers need to ask these questions: Will the solution scale? How much does it cost to start a new patient on treatment? Lastly, does the data partner approach privacy as a first principle or a check-the-box requirement?

Can your targeting solution scale?

The first consideration is, will the solution scale? Even for niche medical conditions, campaigns need to reach a large enough number of clinically relevant people to have an impact. Contextually relevant endemic sites have an important role in many media plans, but lack the sufficient scale needed to drive meaningful impact. Similarly, some health data partners offer only limited scale, resulting in the same issue. Effective solutions must be able to grow, but also contract when needed.

In addition, to achieve proper reach, audience segments must be available across multiple publishers and media channels, including walled gardens and targeted TV. Make sure your health data provider can push segments anywhere, including Facebook and Google. After all, true scale can be achieved only if you can reach your audience where they spend a significant amount of time.

Can you spend efficiently with your data partner?

Your targeting approach must then be vetted for cost-effectiveness; that is, its cost per new patient start. To tie success metrics to business outcomes, marketers should select partners with a low cost per conversion.

Looking at “cost per” metrics is a way to understand efficiency—are media dollars working smarter? Cost per new patient start, for example, is the ultimate way to measure the overall impact of quality, reach, and cost. Make sure your measurement solution enables the easy comparison of cost per new patient start across health data target providers.

How good is the audience quality?

Make sure your campaign is set up to measure exactly the audience you want to target. This means using actual health data to measure the impact of reaching the precise clinically relevant audience for your campaign. For example, if your campaign goal is to reach metastatic breast cancer patients, make sure that your measurement solution is set up to use actual health data to measure the rate at which your health data partner does, in fact, reach that clinical audience. Know that your segments can be pre-established or custom-built, and both can be highly targeted and specific, even for rare diseases.

Audience quality is an important leading indicator of campaign success. It has been proven many times over that high audience quality typically leads to high conversion. But it is also important to remember that it is just that—a leading indicator. The true measure of success is conversion and, even more important, the cost to drive a new patient start.

Privacy is the foundation

Health marketers must be assured that their audience targeting approach respects patient privacy. This can be difficult, given that to truly increase awareness, brands need to reach patients at the top of the marketing funnel, not just when they are researching health conditions on endemic websites.

A vendor checklist for audience targeting

  • Ability to scale
  • Cost-effective
  • Privacy-safe
  • Versatile – can easily scale up or down depending on campaign goals
  • Available across platforms (targeted TV, digital)
  • Proven

To keep patient privacy paramount, select a partner that is both HIPAA compliant and a member of the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI). The NAI incorporates important principles, specific to health data targeting, that go beyond HIPAA alone, including segments that:

  • Include at least 10% of the targetable population
  • Are based only on demographic information and not based on any actual health data
  • Are labeled based on the audience’s demographic makeup

Ask how your vendor complies with each of these requirements.

To properly achieve the ultimate goal—more new patient starts—health marketers should strive for the optimal balance of quality, reach, and cost. Marketers and agencies should select partners that are able to work across publishers and platforms. Seek to have scalability reflected in your partner’s success metrics by tying them to business outcomes and select partners with a low cost per new patient start. Finally, never lose sight of the fact that health campaigns are different from those in other verticals: Health marketers must be assured that their programs are privacy-safe. To do that, you should select only NAI- and HIPAA-compliant partners.

Contact Veeva Crossix today to get a free assessment of how Crossix data can be optimally used in your campaigns.

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