When the audience you’re targeting is highly educated – and pressed for time – you need media execution capabilities that allow you to make the most of every impression and click.
Today’s life sciences marketer has numerous ways to reach and educate both healthcare providers (HCPs) and consumers. From display and social ads to native digital content and out-of-home placements, programmatic ad campaigns can have incredible reach and impact.
When targeting HCPs instead of patients, however, identifying the best combination of channels to use can be even more challenging.
Although the life sciences industry has been slower than others to implement and expand its use of programmatic advertising, healthcare and pharmaceutical brands have seen already promising returns. But to take their campaign performance to the next level, life sciences marketers will need to move past the outdated targeting solutions they’ve traditionally relied on.
Effective Media Execution Matters More Than Ever
Historically, healthcare and pharmaceutical brands have relied heavily on sales representatives to establish relationships with HCPs and communicate essential prescribing information. While sales reps still have an important role to play, the frequency and volume of their interactions with HCPs fell steadily over the last decade.
This trend accelerated during the pandemic, a time when sales reps were forced to incorporate virtual meetings – a new normal that the majority of HCPs believe is permanent. According to a pre-pandemic report from healthcare research company Decision Resources Group, the share of physicians accepting in-person meetings with reps dropped 12 percentage points in a single year, from 67% in 2018 to 54% in 2019.
It’s hard to imagine that in our post-pandemic world even half of HCPs have returned to regularly taking in-person meetings with sales reps. More than 333,942 healthcare workers are estimated to have exited the field in 2021, leaving the average HCP in the United States juggling larger patient panels with less support than ever.
Additionally, the majority leaving the field appeared to be providers with prescriptive authority. Included in the 230,000 workers that left in Q4 2021 alone were:
- 117,000 physicians.
- 53,000 nursing practitioners.
- 22,000 physician’s assistants.
The looming physician shortage and economic downturn means providers have less time and attention to spare for consuming clinical content. To break through the noise, life sciences will need to lean more heavily on digital activations while making the benefit to patient care immediately apparent to their target audience.
Challenges Unique to HCP vs Consumer Targeting
Unlike the patients targeted through direct-to-consumer marketing, HCPs aren’t just a decision-maker – they’re a gatekeeper. Depending on their specialty and patient volume, HCPs make prescribing decisions for hundreds if not thousands of patients. The results they see with one patient may influence their treatment plan for patients that have a similar medical history.
But before they’ll ever see the results of your brand, it has to be prescribed, either by them or someone in their referral network. Getting over that first hurdle can be challenging, especially if the drug brand you’re marketing is new to market, new to treating that specific disease or condition, or simply unfamiliar to your HCP audience.
Like a consumer in any other category, HCPs will have their perceptions and preferences of various brands that they’re aware of – as well as resistance to remembering or learning more about ones they don’t know.
The key difference is that, unlike traditional consumers, HCPs are “shopping” for someone else’s benefit. Keeping that in mind, when planning and executing ad campaigns, is the key to success. The more precisely you can profile, target, and reach HCPs that treat your ideal patient, the more directly your ads can speak to their patients’ specific medical needs.
Creating and serving ads tailored to a highly specific audience will also give you a better chance of making a lasting impression on busy HCPs, potentially making them more receptive to future marketing or sales interactions.
Much like with consumer media execution, the targeting capabilities that digital campaigns most commonly rely on often fail to deliver the level of precision life sciences brands need.
Improving Media Execution Amid Cookie Deprecation
At the same time that the life sciences industry has been catching up with digital marketing trends, the most dominant targeting technology – third-party cookies – has been gradually phased out. While there’s no definitive end in sight, savvy brands and marketing teams are looking for new solutions to implement and optimize HCP media execution.
Continuing to rely on third-party cookies isn’t the answer, especially when communicating with HCP audiences. Not only do HCPs require highly specific, technical information on products they’re considering, but they also tend to require much longer buying cycles. So delaying changes to your digital marketing approach today could mean avoidably poor outcomes for years to come.
Traditionally, cookie-based targeting relies on serving ads to lookalike audiences built using consumer data. The problem with this approach is that it relies on probabilities rather than certainty. Why target your audience based on what you think you know about them rather than evidence right in front of you?
Unlock the Power of Deterministic ID Resolution with Medicx
Health data has long been used to define patient and HCP profiles for marketing but not for actually targeting ads. There’s good reason for that, as life sciences marketers have to be careful in how they handle and use protected health information. With Medicx’s approach to deterministic identity resolution, marketers can now have certainty that their ads are reaching the right providers.
Traditionally, ID resolution has been used to match identifiers across digital touchpoints to create a consistent identity for tracking audiences. Medicx has used this same concept to link encrypted medical and prescription claims data – stored safely with multiple Safe Harbor partners – with consumer preference data.
These linked identifiers are then aggregated across millions of hyperlocal groups through our Micro-Neighborhood targeting platform, which can be filtered based on your precise criteria – from patient characteristics to medical specialty and prescription activity to accepted payers and more.
Contact us to learn more about how Medicx can help you to deliver ads to your target HCP audience with more confidence and less wasted ad spend.