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Data management programs enabled with technologies have completely changed just how marketers buy media today. More and more companies are embracing technologies that facilitate media transactions in real-efforts and at the granular level. Programmatic buying ecosystem is at the core of this revolution and it has triggered a paradigm shift from medical practice marketing buying to targeted ad placements depending on user behavior.

Programmatic buying means sale and get of media in real time in a automated manner through software and algorithms. Automation is live and accurate to such extent that this not just saves time but additionally improves efficiencies in terms of ROIs and reaching a potential audience with laser-guided precision.

While Programmatic buying has not yet taken the healthcare domain by storm, a buzz throughout the topic has begun getting louder lately.

Media buying in healthcare quintessentially has become carried out a traditional manner through sales teams approaching publishers either offline or on the internet and then go using a long process RFQs, negotiations, preparing artworks and specs modifications, purchase indenting, vendor onboarding and in the end releasing payment. And all sorts of this convoluted process has to endure prior to the ad is even published. Hence you will find a lag between purchase intent and actual media release. And that is 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? Let us dig into details.

How exactly does Programmatic Buying Works? The Programmatic Ecosystem

First, we will understand some commonly used terms used in the Programmatic Buying world plus how the Programmatic ecosystem really works.

Step One:

Whenever a user clicks on a web-based page that has an advertising space upon it, the publisher of the web site sends a cookie to user’s internet browser (Chrome, Internet Explorer, Bing… whichever).

Exactly what is Cookie: Cookie, in simple terms, can be a small data file that may be sent from publisher’s web server to user’s web browser which serves to ascertain user’s identity

Step Two:

In the event an inventory (advertising space on the web site) is available for sale, it triggers a request from publisher’s Ad Server for their Supply Side Platform (SSP) to fill the Ad slot

Meaning of SSP: It may seem of Supply Side Platforms (SSPs) such as 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.

Some of the well known supply side platforms are AppNexus, PubMatic, AOL or Google’s DoubleClick Ad Exchange.

Step Three:

SSP then issues a bid request to Demand Side Platform (DSP). This bid request contains specifics of the person who is going to start to see the Ad like her demographic profile, browsing history, etc. This information helps DSPs to help make a knowledgeable decision about a user before you make a bid.

What is a DSP? : Demand Side Platform or DSP, as they are referred in programmatic world, is actually a doorway to acquire advertising space in an automated fashion. Think about DSPs as advertiser’s gatekeepers who matches inventories with buyer’s marketing objectives. DSPs make bidding decision for a buyer after evaluating parameters like publisher’s profile, ad placement, a floor expense of available impression, etc.).

A few of better-known DSPs include DoubleClick Bid Manager by Google, AdMission, MediaMath etc.

Step 4:

In line with the algorithm, DSPs assesses inventories to determine how valuable the sense is and whether or not to be involved in the auction on the part of an advertiser. If DSP decides to participate in in bid auction, it sends a bid response returning to SSP

Step 5:

SSP gathers all bid responses and picks a winner in line with the second-price auction, that means, the individual that bids slightly on top of the second highest bidder.

Step 6:

SSP notifies winning DSP and the DSP, consequently, sends Ad serving code to SSP. Finally, SSP passes on Ad serving code to user’s browser and renders the Ad. The Ad will be served along with other content on a web page.

And all of these steps transpire in a lightning speed behind end as the page loads!

Types of Programmatic Buying

Programmatic Buying, as you may know now, is automated buying of ad space with a website. You will find fundamentally 2 varieties of programmatic buying depending on whether or not the ad space or inventory is bought through auction (Auction based) or if you are paying a set rate on the publisher (fixed price).

Auction based:

Open auction: This is dependant on real-time auction-based bidding. Most prevalent of programmatic buying

Invitation-only auction: This too is auction-based but bidding is restricted to select advertisers selected by way of a publisher. More premium inventory sold with a higher price. Some publishers give ‘first look’ advantage to some advertisers before ad space is visible to others

Fixed priced:

Unreserved set rate: Cost is prefixed but no ad space is scheduled aside upfront

Automated guaranteed or Programmatic premium: It becomes an automated process of buying guaranteed ad space that doesn’t involve an auction, where the pricing is prefixed and impressions are guaranteed. Generally, this particular type is most premium of all types.

Scope of Programmatic Buying in Healthcare

Programmatic marketing has not yet taken healthcare industry by storm yet by any stretch in the imagination, especially so in India. Although this marketing phenomenon is discussed in marketing conferences and agency boardrooms but its role continues to be confined to lexicons and concept as opposed to on actual spending of promoting dollars. Out of the global spending of USD 22 Bn on Programmatic buying in 2015, spending in India had been a mere USD 25 M that makes 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 most media buys being programmatic, healthcare marketers use a great opportunity on their hands. Not just is programmatic the new buzzword, however it is estimated that 70% of most media buys will likely be programmatic in 2016. That’s significant growth over 2 yrs.

Healthcare media buying in India remains to be predominantly completed 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 flip side, allows precision and previously unthought-of granularity to arrive at target customers with better engagement and minimize costs. I want to present some real life scenarios to give home the impact of Programmatic Buying dentist marketing.

Imagine you are visiting nearby pharmacy store to acquire sugar control medication after doing some online search about medicines dosage and side effects. Suddenly your smartphone buzzes. Curious to learn, you examine your inbox and look for email message inviting anyone to go on a free diabetes check-up in a Clinic just a block from what your location is.

Almost scary, isn’t it! Well, this is what Programmatic can do. It reaches your predefined customers or audience in the right moment having a right message. And all of such a thing happens in milliseconds within an automated fashion, as a result of footprints, or say Cookies, you left while looking the web.

Programmatic buying has evolved the approach from rendering same advertising message to numerous customers to making a unique message for individual customers based on her need right then of time. A evidence of concept for this can be how health insurance could possibly be bought using a Programmatic platform.

As you were renewing medical health insurance policy online for your personal parents, an ad banner flashed across your laptop screen proclaiming to provide better coverage with add-ons in a lesser premium. The message is really timely and apt that you might not resist but clicking the ad. It feels that ‘someone’ is following your foot trails online. It appears there is actually ‘someone’ that follow users to offer messages that are very apt and timely.

In ways, data analytics is the lifeblood of automated buying. Although an enormous level of info is gathered in the medical industry, for instance, a hospital, virtually no than it is commonly used effectively to develop effective data-driven strategy.

First party data sources in hospitals like patient registration kiosk of Hospital Information System, CRMs or possibly a Website could be used to capture customer intent by putting a cookie on customer’s browser which can 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 plus a second-party data from affiliates or online subscription agencies and third-party data purchased from outside data aggregators like telecom companies, other CRMs etc., is clustered to make homogenous selection of audiences having similar traits like age, web surfing history, online purchases, content sharing on social media, medical content consumed, etc.

We will conjure up a probable scenario for a hospital that is going to launch Diabetes Management Program and wishes to reach targeted audience making use of 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 develop into a good audience pool to work targeted messages using GSP (Gmail Sponsored Promotions) or RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads) campaigns. While a GSP would enable messages being shipped to prospective patient’s Gmail inbox, the RLSA campaign would guarantee that message is rendered on user’s SERPs wherever they use the web.

The good thing of programmatic advertising is it can integrate all media delivery options and provide you with the message to right audiences wherever they live online be it video, search ads, mobile, display or social media marketing. Such media optimization gets a captive and engaged audience to marketers resulting in maximum value from marketing dollar spent.

Say you wish to target women within their early 40s surviving in North Bangalore for promoting cancer of the breast screening. Programmatic-means of accomplishing this is deliver your message to the in-market audience directly by capturing basic patient’s intent and after that tracking their online behavior. For example, say 45-year old women who visited your Oncology webpage and is searching information online on “prevention of cancers of the breast”.

Programmatic Buying permits you to serve your distinct audience who seems to be on the far end of buyer’s journey and it has an increased propensity of getting in case your message touches their cord. Programmatic Buying helps you to track investment or in other words, makes returns attributable. Advertising has changed into a niche endeavor and Programmatic Buying comes as 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 must stand guard against. Such bad practices permeate over the Programmatic ecosystem and are omnipresent across industries including healthcare.

In a highly regulated healthcare sector, these challenges are even more evident. So permit me to address some burning issues plaguing the Programmatic Buying in healthcare

1) Restrictions on retargeting: Hospital industry has been slow to adapt programmatic buying because medical ethics restrict any type of advertising to patients, even audience retargeting using cookies

2) Ad misplacement: Ad placement while seeking to reach a prospect, say a Physician inside a non-clinical environment such as a Game Center or Expedia Travel site may actually dilute importance of brand name and message

3) Control: As previously mentioned, Demand Side Platforms are aggregators of inventory and then make them readily available for Advertisers. However, in health care industry, only a few reputed medical publishers like PubMed, WebMD, The Lancet, NEJM etc. may renounce control over their inventory to allow open ad ecosystem like Programmatic take control. That is why most medical publishers still prefer reserved, non-auction based upon programmatic buying like either Programmatic Direct.

4) Higher costs: As a result of publisher’s reluctance towards open-auction bidding in healthcare for reasons stated above, cost per impression (CPM) is higher than 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 that a media bought through Programmatic model is often 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, referred to as the Programmatic Direct. Hence, exactly what is left is a less coveted, tier-2 inventory. Although buying this inventory could help derive engagement at lower cost.

7) Private Healthcare Ad Exchanges:Because of medical data security, misplacements and privacy issues in healthcare, some proponents of exclusive healthcare ad exchanges have emerged. In reality we already have some media buying platforms in healthcare like MM&M, Compas etc. that allow automated buying to healthcare publishers. However, provided that transparency and neutrality of open buying platform would be compromised with such agencies, there is very little incentive for advertisers to work alongside such private ad exchanges. Besides, scale and inventory provided with such private exchanges is also limited in comparison to full-service media agencies.

Aside these challenges which are specific to health care 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 form of fraud whereby programs imitate desired online behavior and register false matrices like impressions, views or clicks. Bots pretend to be actual humans while actually they are bit of malware that inflates the performance matrices by masquerading as organic activity. Common instances of this is certainly paid ‘likes’ or ‘ 1s’ on social media.

9) Viewability: Viewability is the prospect of an advert to be noticed. Many times a sizable 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 see the ad.

Ad blocking: Today’s sophisticated programs allow users to take out advertising while browsing the web or using apps. Most publishers and professional bloggers rely on advertising because the main method to obtain their revenue. Along with ad blocking in position, a blogger would lose an incentive to generate free-to-consume content unless the alternate stream of revenue is available for them. Likewise, publisher websites lose interest since their revenue model based on content-for-advertising is compromised

In summary:

Programmatic buying has been a prominent inclusion in marketer’s quiver since last decade. Health care industry has become slow to get up for this phenomenon because of 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 marketing plastic surgery including hospitals and pharmaceutical companies can be best if you consider programmatic buying as an element of a core online marketing strategy and move from broad, segment-based marketing to specific fine-grained messages crafted to get, nurture and convert potential prospects or patients.