Data management programs enabled with technology has completely changed just how marketers buy media today. A lot more companies are embracing technologies that facilitate media transactions in real-time as well as at the granular level. Programmatic buying ecosystem is in the core of this revolution and has triggered a paradigm shift from medical marketing service buying to targeted ad placements based upon user behavior.
Programmatic buying means sale and acquire of media live in an automated manner through software and algorithms. Automation is real-time and accurate to such extent which it not just saves time but in addition improves efficiencies regarding ROIs and reaching a potential audience with laser-guided precision.
While Programmatic buying has not yet taken the healthcare domain by storm, a buzz around the topic has started getting louder in recent years.
Media buying in healthcare quintessentially is done in a conventional manner through sales teams approaching publishers either offline or internet and go by way of a long process RFQs, negotiations, preparing artworks and specs modifications, purchase indenting, vendor onboarding and in the end releasing payment. And all of this convoluted process has to pass through prior to the ad is even published. Hence there is a lag between purchase intent and actual media release. And that is what Programmatic is good at solving.
Now how does Programmatic buying works and why hasn’t it caught the imaginations of healthcare marketer yet? Let us dig into details.
How does Programmatic Buying Works? The Programmatic Ecosystem
First, let us understand some popular terms used in the Programmatic Buying world plus how the Programmatic ecosystem really works.
Whenever a user clicks on an online page that has an advertising space into it, the publisher from the web site sends a cookie to user’s internet browser (Chrome, Internet Explorer, Bing… whichever).
What exactly 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 build user’s identity
In the event an inventory (advertising space over a website) is on sale, it triggers a request from publisher’s Ad Server on their Supply Side Platform (SSP) to fill the Ad slot
Concept of SSP: It may seem of Supply Side Platforms (SSPs) like a library or storehouse of Ad Inventories accessible for placing your advertisement. It really is a platform that connects sellers (web 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 information about the consumer who is going to begin to see the Ad like her demographic profile, browsing history, etc. This data helps DSPs to produce an informed decision about a user before you make a bid.
What exactly is a DSP? : Demand Side Platform or DSP, because they are referred in programmatic world, can be a doorway to acquire advertising space in a automated fashion. Think about DSPs as advertiser’s gatekeepers who matches inventories with buyer’s marketing objectives. DSPs make bidding decision on behalf of a buyer after evaluating parameters like publisher’s profile, ad placement, the ground expense of available impression, etc.).
A number of better-known DSPs include DoubleClick Bid Manager by Google, AdMission, MediaMath etc.
Based on the algorithm, DSPs assesses inventories to ascertain how valuable the impression is and if you should be involved in the auction on behalf of an advertiser. If DSP decides to participate in bid auction, it sends a bid response straight back to SSP
SSP gathers all bid responses and picks a winner in accordance with the second-price auction, that means, the individual who bids slightly on top of the second highest bidder.
SSP notifies winning DSP and also 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 will then be served as well as other content with a website.
And all sorts of these steps happen at a lightning speed at the back end as the page loads!
Types of Programmatic Buying
Programmatic Buying, as we know now, is automated buying of ad space with a web page. You will find fundamentally 2 forms of programmatic buying according to whether or not the ad space or inventory is bought through auction (Auction based) or if you are paying a fixed rate on the publisher (fixed price).
Open auction: This is founded on real-time auction-based bidding. Most prevalent of all programmatic buying
Invitation-only auction: This too is auction-based but bidding is limited to choose advertisers selected with a publisher. More premium inventory sold at the higher price. Some publishers give ‘first look’ benefit to some advertisers before ad space is seen to others
Unreserved fixed interest rate: Price is prefixed but no ad space is set aside in advance
Automated guaranteed or Programmatic premium: It becomes an automated process of buying guaranteed ad space that doesn’t involve an auction, where price is prefixed and impressions are guaranteed. Generally, this kind is most premium of all.
Scope of Programmatic Buying in Healthcare
Programmatic marketing has not taken healthcare industry by storm yet by any stretch of your imagination, especially so in India. Even though this marketing phenomenon is discussed in marketing conferences and agency boardrooms nonetheless its role remains to be tied to lexicons and concept as opposed to on actual spending of promoting dollars. From the global spending of USD 22 Bn on Programmatic buying in 2015, spending in India was a mere USD 25 M making it just above 1% share (Source: Media Global report cited in eMarketer )
By 2018, it’s projected that the medical industry will spend $2.2 billion on digital media. With roughly 40% of most media buys being programmatic, healthcare marketers possess a great opportunity on their hands. Not only is programmatic the new buzzword, yet it is estimated that 70% of all media buys will probably be programmatic in 2016. That’s significant growth over 2 years.
Healthcare media buying in India is still predominantly carried out by traditional spray-and-pray, at best loosely targeted media campaigns involving humans (read- sales team) that negotiate with publishers or media agencies to purchase ad space or inventory. Programmatic buying, on the other hand, allows precision and previously unthought-of granularity to arrive at target customers with better engagement and reduce costs. I want to present some actual life scenarios to bring home the impact of Programmatic Buying marketing for dentists.
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 examine your inbox and discover email message inviting you to definitely go on a free diabetes check-up with a Clinic just a block away from what your location is.
Almost scary, isn’t it! Well, and this is what Programmatic can perform. It reaches your predefined customers or audience on the right moment by using a right message. And all sorts of this happens in milliseconds in a automated fashion, because of footprints, or say Cookies, you left while searching the web.
Programmatic buying has evolved the approach from rendering same advertising message to an incredible number of customers to creating an original message for individual customers based on her need at that moment of time. A proof of concept for this can be how medical insurance could be bought employing a Programmatic platform.
As you were renewing medical health insurance policy online for your parents, an advert banner flashed across your laptop screen proclaiming to provide better coverage with accessories at the lesser premium. The content is so timely and apt that one could not resist but clicking the ad. It feels that ‘someone’ is after the foot trails online. It ends up that there is actually ‘someone’ that follow users to supply messages which are very apt and timely.
In many ways, data analytics may be the lifeblood of automated buying. Although a tremendous amount of information is gathered from the healthcare industry, as an example, a hospital, little or no from it is commonly used effectively to create effective data-driven strategy.
First party data sources in hospitals like patient registration kiosk of Hospital Information System, CRMs or even a Website enables you to capture customer intent by placing a cookie on customer’s browser that may then follow and track a customer’s online journey and put meaningful and compelling messages to operate engagement with patients or customers. This primary data together with 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 form homogenous selection of audiences having similar traits like age, web surfing history, online purchases, content sharing on social networking, medical content consumed, etc.
Let us conjure up a probable scenario to get a hospital that is going to launch Diabetes Management Program and wishes to reach targeted audience using their primary data base gathered over past years. Data points like e-mail address and make contact with numbers of patients undergoing care under endocrinologist would develop into a good audience pool to operate targeted messages using GSP (Gmail Sponsored Promotions) or RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads) campaigns. While a GSP would enable messages to get delivered to prospective patient’s Gmail inbox, the RLSA campaign would guarantee that message is rendered on user’s SERPs wherever they use the internet.
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 is video, search ads, mobile, display or social networking. Such media optimization gets a captive and engaged audience to marketers leading to maximum value out of marketing dollar spent.
Say you need to target women within their early 40s surviving in North Bangalore for promoting breast cancer screening. Programmatic-way of achieving this is deliver your message towards the in-market audience directly by capturing basic patient’s intent then tracking their online behavior. For example, say 45-years old females who visited your Oncology web site and is also searching information online on “prevention of breast cancer”.
Programmatic Buying allows you to focus on your specific audience who is at the far end of buyer’s journey and it has an increased propensity of purchasing when your message touches their cord. Programmatic Buying enables you to track investment or in other words, makes returns attributable. Advertising has become a niche endeavor and Programmatic Buying has come 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 all over the Programmatic ecosystem and are omnipresent across industries including healthcare.
In the highly regulated healthcare sector, these challenges are even more evident. So i want to address some burning issues plaguing the Programmatic Buying in healthcare
1) Restrictions on retargeting: Hospital industry continues to be slow to evolve programmatic buying because medical ethics restrict any form of advertising to patients, the audience retargeting using cookies
2) Ad misplacement: Ad placement while attempting to reach a prospect, say a Physician inside a non-clinical environment similar to a Game Center or Expedia Travel site might actually dilute significance of brand and message
3) Control: As earlier mentioned, Demand Side Platforms are aggregators of inventory and make them readily available for Advertisers. However, in health care industry, very few reputed medical publishers like PubMed, WebMD, The Lancet, NEJM etc. may renounce power over their inventory to let open ad ecosystem like Programmatic dominate. That is the reason 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 is limited and finite, mostly they can be bought via direct 1-to-1 Publisher-Advertiser model ultimately causing inflated CPMs and suboptimal performance parameters (read ROI)
6) Stale-on-Sale:General impression is a media bought through Programmatic model is generally a leftover, remnant inventory. This is simply not entirely untrue in healthcare either. Media space buying in healthcare predominantly is either through direct buyout involving humans or direct buyout involving automation, referred to as the Programmatic Direct. Hence, exactly what is left is actually a less coveted, tier-2 inventory. Although buying this inventory may 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 have 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 the fact that transparency and neutrality of open buying platform will be compromised with such agencies, there is very little incentive for advertisers to do business with such private ad exchanges. Besides, scale and inventory provided with such private exchanges can also be limited in comparison to full-service media agencies.
Aside these challenges that happen to be specific to health care industry, Programmatic Buying has some inherent problems that are pervasive across industries. Like some outlined below:
8) Non-human traffic: Non-human traffic or the NHT as is commonly referred in Programmatic world is easily the most prevalent method of fraud whereby programs imitate desired online behavior and register false matrices like impressions, views or clicks. Bots pretend to get actual humans while actually they may be component of malware that inflates the performance matrices by masquerading as organic activity. Common types of this really is paid ‘likes’ or ‘ 1s’ on social media marketing.
9) Viewability: Viewability is the probability of an ad to be noticed. 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 quickly to discover the ad.
Ad blocking: Today’s sophisticated programs allow users to eliminate advertising while browsing the net or using apps. Most publishers and professional bloggers be determined by advertising because the main supply of their revenue. With ad blocking set up, a blogger would lose a reason to generate free-to-consume content unless the alternate stream of revenue is available to them. Likewise, publisher websites lose interest since their revenue model according to content-for-advertising is compromised
Programmatic buying is a prominent inclusion in marketer’s quiver since last decade. Healthcare industry is slow to get out of bed to this phenomenon due to industry-specific challenges. However, adoption of data, involvement of social websites companies and proliferation of healthcare specific ad networks to handle automated buying in healthcare would only mitigate these challenges.
The plastic surgeon marketing including hospitals and pharmaceutical companies will be a good idea to consider programmatic buying as part of a core online marketing strategy and move from broad, segment-based marketing to specific fine-grained messages crafted to bring in, nurture and convert potential customers or patients.