Data management programs enabled with technologies have completely changed the way marketers buy media today. More and more companies are embracing technologies that facilitate media transactions in real-some time and at the granular level. Programmatic buying ecosystem reaches the core of this revolution and contains triggered a paradigm shift from healthcare advertising buying to targeted ad placements according to user behavior.
Programmatic buying means sale and acquire of media in real time within an automated manner through software and algorithms. Automation is real-time and accurate to such extent that it not just saves time and also 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 round the topic has begun getting louder in recent years.
Media buying in healthcare quintessentially has been carried out in a conventional manner through sales teams approaching publishers either offline or on the web and then go through a long process RFQs, negotiations, preparing artworks and specs modifications, purchase indenting, vendor onboarding and ultimately releasing payment. And all sorts of this convoluted process has to go through ahead of the ad is even published. Hence you will find a lag between purchase intent and actual media release. And that is what Programmatic is useful at solving.
Just how does Programmatic buying works and why hasn’t it caught the imaginations of healthcare marketer yet? We will dig into details.
How does Programmatic Buying Works? The Programmatic Ecosystem
First, let us understand some widely used terms used in the Programmatic Buying world as well as just how the Programmatic ecosystem actually works.
Every time a user clicks on a web page which includes a marketing space into it, the publisher in the web page sends a cookie to user’s browser (Chrome, Internet Explorer, Bing… whichever).
What exactly is Cookie: Cookie, in simple terms, is really a small data file which is sent from publisher’s web server to user’s browser which serves to build user’s identity
Just in case an inventory (advertising space over a webpage) is available for sale, it triggers a request from publisher’s Ad Server to their Supply Side Platform (SSP) to fill the Ad slot
Definition of SSP: You may be thinking of Supply Side Platforms (SSPs) similar to a library or storehouse of Ad Inventories readily available for placing your advertisement. It is a platform that connects sellers (websites, blogs, directories etc.) with buyers or advertisers who compete against one another for available Ad space.
A few of the famous 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 regarding the consumer who is about to start to see the Ad like her demographic profile, browsing history, etc. These details helps DSPs to help make an educated decision about a user prior to a bid.
What is a DSP? : Demand Side Platform or DSP, because they are referred in programmatic world, is a doorway to get advertising space in an automated fashion. Consider 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, the ground cost of available impression, etc.).
Several of better-known DSPs include DoubleClick Bid Manager by Google, AdMission, MediaMath etc.
In accordance with the algorithm, DSPs assesses inventories to find out how valuable the impression is and whether or not to take part in the auction on the part of an advertiser. If DSP decides to sign up in bid auction, it sends a bid response to SSP
SSP gathers all bid responses and picks a success in line with the second-price auction, which means, the individual that bids slightly over the second highest bidder.
SSP notifies winning DSP and the DSP, therefore, 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 together with other content over a website.
And all sorts of these steps occur at the lightning speed behind end whilst the page loads!
Varieties of Programmatic Buying
Programmatic Buying, as you may know now, is automated buying of ad space on a web page. You will find fundamentally 2 varieties of programmatic buying depending on regardless of if the ad space or inventory is bought through auction (Auction based) or by paying a fixed rate towards the publisher (fixed price).
Open auction: This is founded on real-time auction-based bidding. Most prevalent of all the programmatic buying
Invitation-only auction: This too is auction-based but bidding has limitations to select advertisers selected by way of a publisher. More premium inventory sold in a higher price. Some publishers give ‘first look’ benefit to some advertisers before ad space is visible to others
Unreserved fixed interest rate: Pricing is prefixed but no ad space is set aside in advance
Automated guaranteed or Programmatic premium: It is really an automated technique of buying guaranteed ad space that doesn’t involve an auction, the location where the price is prefixed and impressions are guaranteed. Generally, this type is most premium of all.
Scope of Programmatic Buying in Healthcare
Programmatic marketing has not yet taken medical industry by storm yet by any stretch in the imagination, especially so in India. Even if this marketing phenomenon is discussed in marketing conferences and agency boardrooms nonetheless its role remains limited 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 actually a mere USD 25 M rendering it just above 1% share (Source: Media Global report cited in eMarketer )
By 2018, it’s projected that this healthcare industry will spend $2.2 billion on digital media. With roughly 40% of media buys being programmatic, healthcare marketers possess a great opportunity on their hands. Not simply is programmatic the latest buzzword, yet it is estimated that 70% of all media buys will likely be programmatic in 2016. That’s significant growth over 2 yrs.
Healthcare media buying in India continues to be 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 acquire ad space or inventory. Programmatic buying, on the other hand, allows precision and previously unthought-of granularity to attain target customers with better engagement minimizing costs. Allow me to present some real world scenarios to give home the impact of Programmatic Buying dental advertising.
Imagine you are visiting nearby pharmacy store to buy sugar control medication after doing a little online search about medicines dosage and adverse reactions. Suddenly your smartphone buzzes. Curious to understand, you look at your inbox and locate email message inviting one to require a free diabetes check-up at a Clinic only a block away from where you are.
Almost scary, isn’t it! Well, this is just what Programmatic are capable of doing. It reaches your predefined customers or audience in the right moment using a right message. And all of this happens in milliseconds in a automated fashion, thanks to footprints, or say Cookies, you left while looking the web.
Programmatic buying changed the approach from rendering same advertising message to numerous customers to creating an original message for individual customers depending on her need right then of your time. A evidence of concept for this may be how medical health insurance may be bought employing a Programmatic platform.
When you were renewing health insurance policy online for your parents, an ad banner flashed across your laptop screen proclaiming to offer you better coverage with add-ons in a lesser premium. Your message is very timely and apt that you could not resist but clicking the ad. It feels that ‘someone’ is following your foot trails online. It turns out there is actually ‘someone’ that follow users to provide messages which are very apt and timely.
In such a way, data analytics is the lifeblood of automated buying. Although a tremendous level of info is gathered from the health care industry, as an example, a hospital, virtually no than it can be used effectively to build effective data-driven strategy.
First party data sources in hospitals like patient registration kiosk of Hospital Information System, CRMs or perhaps a Website can 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 place meaningful and compelling messages to drive engagement with patients or customers. This primary data along with 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 create 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 the hospital that is about to launch Diabetes Management Program and wants to reach targeted audience making use of their primary data base gathered over past years. Data points like e-mail address and contact variety of patients undergoing care under endocrinologist would become 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 transported to prospective patient’s Gmail inbox, the RLSA campaign would make sure that message is rendered on user’s SERPs wherever they use the internet.
The best part of programmatic advertising is that it can integrate all media delivery options and give you the message to right audiences wherever they live online whether it be video, search ads, mobile, display or social media marketing. Such media optimization gets a captive and engaged audience to marketers leading to maximum value out from marketing dollar spent.
Say you wish to target women within their early 40s living in North Bangalore for promoting breast cancer screening. Programmatic-means of achieving this is deliver your message towards the in-market audience directly by capturing basic patient’s intent and after that tracking their online behavior. For example, say 45-years old women who visited your Oncology webpage and it is searching information online on “prevention of cancers of the breast”.
Programmatic Buying permits you to focus on your specific target market who seems to be with the far end of buyer’s journey and possesses a greater propensity of buying when your message touches their cord. Programmatic Buying helps you to track investment or to put it differently, makes returns attributable. Advertising has turned into a niche endeavor and Programmatic Buying has arrived 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 need to stand guard against. Such bad practices permeate all over the Programmatic ecosystem and therefore are omnipresent across industries including healthcare.
Within a highly regulated healthcare sector, these challenges are much more evident. So let me address some burning issues plaguing the Programmatic Buying in healthcare
1) Restrictions on retargeting: Hospital industry has been slow to evolve programmatic buying because medical ethics restrict any kind of advertising to patients, including the audience retargeting using cookies
2) Ad misplacement: Ad placement while seeking to reach a prospect, say a Physician in a non-clinical environment like a Game Center or Expedia Travel site could actually dilute importance of brand name and message
3) Control: As previously mentioned, Demand Side Platforms are aggregators of inventory to make them readily available for Advertisers. However, in healthcare industry, only a 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 why most medical publishers still prefer reserved, non-auction depending on programmatic buying like either Programmatic Direct.
4) Higher costs: On account of publisher’s reluctance towards open-auction bidding in healthcare for reasons stated above, cost per impression (CPM) is more than in other industries like retail and travel.
5) Inventory scale: Since ad spaces on medical sites is limited and finite, mostly they are bought via direct 1-to-1 Publisher-Advertiser model leading to inflated CPMs and suboptimal performance parameters (read ROI)
6) Stale-on-Sale:General impression is that a media bought through Programmatic model is usually 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 Programmatic Direct. Hence, precisely what is left is a less coveted, tier-2 inventory. Although buying this inventory may 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. Actually we already have some media buying platforms in healthcare like MM&M, Compas etc. that allow 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 little incentive for advertisers to use such private ad exchanges. Besides, scale and inventory provided by such private exchanges is likewise limited in comparison with full-service media agencies.
Aside these challenges which are specific to healthcare industry, Programmatic Buying has some inherent issues that are pervasive across industries. Like some outlined below:
8) Non-human traffic: Non-human traffic or maybe the NHT as it 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 being actual humans while actually these are bit of malware that inflates the performance matrices by masquerading as organic activity. Common types of this is paid ‘likes’ or ‘ 1s’ on social media.
9) Viewability: Viewability is the probability of an ad to be seen. Often times a huge proportion of impressions that advertisers purchase goes unseen either on account of below-the-fold 60dextpky or user might scroll a page too rapidly to find out the ad.
Ad blocking: Today’s sophisticated programs allow users to eliminate advertising while browsing the web or using apps. Most publishers and professional bloggers be determined by advertising as the main supply of their revenue. And with ad blocking into position, a blogger would lose an incentive to generate free-to-consume content unless the alternate stream of revenue is offered to them. Likewise, publisher websites get bored since their revenue model depending on content-for-advertising is compromised
Programmatic buying has become a prominent inclusion in marketer’s quiver since last decade. Healthcare industry has become slow to wake up for this phenomenon due to industry-specific challenges. However, adoption of data, involvement of social media marketing 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 would be smart to consider programmatic buying within a core marketing strategy and move from broad, segment-based marketing to specific fine-grained messages crafted to attract, nurture and convert prospective customers or patients.