Guide to Digital Video for Health Marketers

An introduction to video content delivery platforms for ad campaigns

With anytime, anywhere, on any device video a reality, more audiences are opting to consume video content in new ways. To address these increasingly fragmented behaviors, media companies have created new platforms, new devices, and new channels to reach consumers when and where they’re watching video. Brand marketers and their agencies have tried to quickly adapt to keep up with these new players, but this progress is not without growing pains and confusion.

To maximize the impact of their video ad campaigns, marketers need a deep understanding of emerging video channels. In this e-book, we will outline the various types of video channels available, how these ads can be purchased, the most successful ways to target health audiences, and how they can measure, test, and optimize their advertising investments.

Video platforms: understanding the basics

The first step to successfully expanding your video strategy is understanding the different platforms available. While they may all serve video content, the way the media is purchased—and how it’s measured—varies. Here’s a breakdown of the differences.

Linear Video

The term linear refers to the delivery of TV in a passive, “lean back” environment where programming from networks runs on a continual basis. Linear is synonymous with what we call traditional TV.

Traditional TV

Overview Content is either live or time shifted (Video-on-Demand (VOD), DVR). It is typically delivered at a scheduled time through an over-the-air broadcast, cable or satellite set-top-box services (also known as Multichannel Video Programming Distributors). A more targeted approach to traditional TV, where marketers can deliver targeted ads to different households watching the same program.
Examples Network providers include ABC, ESPN, and NBC. Recently, time-shifted TV expanded to streaming from virtual providers such as YouTube TV, Sling and FuboTV, which are delivered through the internet but mimic the cable/satellite viewing experience. Cable and satellite providers include companies like DISH Media, Comcast, Verizon, and Spectrum.
Ad purchasing
and targeting
Ad space is usually purchased directly with TV networks by a media agency during the annual upfronts or through scatter buys throughout the year and is targeted toward large demographic groups. First- and third-party data sets can be used to evaluate the audience composition of networks, dayparts, and programs. While ratings are eroding, TV remains the most efficient, fastest builder of reach. Transactions are increasingly being done based on impressions of advanced, custom audiences and are executed directly with the cable and satellite operators. Ad targeting is based on household interests, habits, geography and demographics.
Measurement Ads are measured using panels that can be matched back to health records. While it is traditionally still measured like linear TV, marketers can more precisely tie exposure to real-world impact due to the authenticated audience. Measurement connects set-top boxes with matchback to health records.
Streaming video ad impressions for health marketers increased 58% year-over-year.

Source: Crossix DIFA, 2020

Non-linear Video

The term non-linear video refers to any method or technology that allows viewers to select which content they watch and when they watch it.

Overview Video content access by streaming, without use of traditional TV subscription via cable or satellite set-top box.

OTT ads can be served through a variety of media channels, including:

  • Internet Connected Device (ICD) – Devices that plug into your TV’s HDMI port to deliver streaming content via the Internet. Popular devices include Roku or Amazon Fire Sticks and video game consoles.
  • Full Episode Players (FEP) – Hulu or other on-demand apps from cable or broadcast networks that stream long-form content, usually between 30-60 minutes in length, via a network’s app or website.
  • Streaming Live TV, also known as Virtual Multichannel Video Distributor (vMVPD) – Distributors that aggregate live and on-demand TV and deliver the content over the Internet. Services include Sling, YouTube TV, Hulu Live, FuboTV. vMVPD streaming is a form of video that falls within both linear and non-linear video.
  • Free AdSupported Video on Demand (AVOD apps) – A monetization strategy where customers watch content free of charge but are shown ads during breaks in the content stream. One example is Pluto TV.
Examples OTT in its broadest sense includes video on internet-connected TVs, desktops, tablets, and mobile devices.
Ad purchasing
and targeting
Ads are delivered through native streaming devices and can be purchased via guaranteed insertion orders or programmatically. These ads typically support audience targeting similar to other digital buys.
Measurement Ads are measured by exposures to the devices and then matched back to health data.
Streaming video ads are, on average, 50% more targeted than linear TV, meaning they are 50% more likely to reach patients diagnosed with the health condition of interest.

Source: Crossix DIFA, 2021

Overview Any television content streamed via the internet (*CTV falls under the broader term of OTT). Content is delivered on a TV, normally through native streaming applications within the operating system of the television but also through connected devices. Content is delivered on-demand via the internet. Content that appears in social feeds, often set to auto-play. Ad space may be limited to shorter duration placements, such as 6 second creatives.
Examples Smart TVs that have built-in internet connections such as Samsung or Vizio televisions. YouTube and Vimeo as well as pre-roll ads within traditional websites such as news or sports sites. Video ads in Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
Ad purchasing
and targeting
Ads are delivered through native streaming devices and can be purchased via guaranteed insertion orders or programmatically. These ads typically support audience targeting similar to other digital buys. Through specific TV technology, automatic content recognition enables exposure management to both advertisers and competitive ads. Ad space is usually bought programmatically, but could be purchased through an insertion order. In addition to identity-based audience targeting, advertisers can also utilize contextual targeting approaches. The vast majority of purchasing is direct through social platform providers. Ad targeting is based on geography, demographics, skills and interests.
Measurement Ads are measured by exposures to the devices and then matched back to health data. Ads are measured by exposures to the devices and then matched back to health data. Measurement reporting is often only accessible through the media owner.

Customer insights can make or break your media strategy

There are many considerations to take into account when deciding upon the appropriate video channels and ad strategy for a healthcare brand. In order to serve ads that will resonate and ultimately convert, marketers need to understand their audience and their behaviors.

Learning what sites the customer is visiting and what types of video ads have influenced their behavior in the past is instrumental to ad campaign success. Some viewers might spend more time on social media platforms like Facebook or YouTube, whereas others might spend more time watching TV, and yet others view online news sites. Are they interested in educational content in a specific disease category?

Different audiences have different preferences especially when engagement takes place across multiple age groups. These behaviors will influence both video strategy and platform selection.

How to measure, test, and optimize campaigns

Armed with audience awareness, marketers are able to craft and execute a successful ad campaign. Careful analysis of initial results provides insight to make changes that may be necessary during the campaign.

Third-party measurement and analytics Test Optimize
Is the ad campaign driving doctor visitation and influencing patient behavior? Beyond traditional digital marketing metrics such as unique viewers, drop-off rates, click-through rates, engagement metrics, and general content consumption, life sciences marketers can tie media performance to health outcomes. Third-party measurement and analytics providers specializing in life sciences provide that additional granularity to help brand marketers understand whether or not their video ads are successful. Platforms like Crossix DIFA connect media exposure data to health behavior across all types of linear and digital video. It can give you a common currency to compare traditional and emerging video placements, allowing for smarter optimization decisions. Once there is a set of metrics helping to evaluate media effectiveness, it is important to test performance. Audience quality, based on health data, is an early indicator of campaign success and can be used to reallocate investments both within and across publishers. Most marketers work with their current media partners to assess ways to drive up performance. Many partners are willing to help advertisers reallocate spend within their platforms to ensure that the campaign will be as successful as possible. By making timely optimizations across the course of the campaign, life sciences marketers can improve media efficiencies by as much as 25%.

Campaign success is within reach

Technologies will continue to evolve as marketers look for new ways to reach their intended audiences, influence their behaviors and ultimately improve health outcomes. Understanding the latest video channels and technologies will help marketers greatly improve campaign outcomes. By layering in measurement and optimization techniques with partners such as Veeva Crossix, health marketers will be able to understand the impact of all video placements on the plan.

Our 2022 Trends in Digital Advertising Report covers shifting consumer behavior across the media landscape, including digital video.

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