Data management programs enabled with technology has completely changed the way marketers buy media today. A lot more companies are embracing technologies that facilitate media transactions in actual-time and at the granular level. Programmatic buying ecosystem is at the core of the revolution and contains triggered a paradigm shift from medical practice marketing buying to targeted ad placements according to user behavior.
Programmatic buying means sale and get of media instantly in a automated manner through software and algorithms. Automation is realtime and accurate to such extent that this not simply saves time but also 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 around the topic has started getting louder in recent times.
Media buying in healthcare quintessentially continues to be carried out in a conventional manner through sales teams approaching publishers either offline or on the 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 this convoluted process has to undergo just before the ad is even published. Hence there exists a lag between purchase intent and actual media release. And that is what Programmatic is useful at solving.
So, just how does Programmatic buying works and why hasn’t it caught the imaginations of healthcare marketer yet? Allow us to dig into details.
How does Programmatic Buying Works? The Programmatic Ecosystem
First, we will understand some commonly used terms found in the Programmatic Buying world as well as exactly how the Programmatic ecosystem really works.
Every time a user clicks an online page which includes an advertising space onto it, the publisher of your webpage sends a cookie to user’s browser (Chrome, Internet Explorer, Bing… whichever).
What exactly is Cookie: Cookie, in simple terms, is actually a small data file that is sent from publisher’s web server to user’s web browser which serves to establish user’s identity
In case an inventory (advertising space over a webpage) is on the market, it triggers a request from publisher’s Ad Server on their Supply Side Platform (SSP) to fill the Ad slot
Meaning of SSP: You may be thinking of Supply Side Platforms (SSPs) such as a library or storehouse of Ad Inventories readily available for placing your advertisement. It is actually a platform that connects sellers (internet sites, blogs, directories etc.) with buyers or advertisers who compete against each other for available Ad space.
A few 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 regarding an individual who is going to start to see the Ad like her demographic profile, browsing history, etc. This information helps DSPs to produce an educated decision with regards to a user before making a bid.
What is a DSP? : Demand Side Platform or DSP, because they are referred in programmatic world, is actually a doorway to purchase advertising space within an automated fashion. Consider DSPs as advertiser’s gatekeepers who matches inventories with buyer’s marketing objectives. DSPs make bidding decision with respect to a buyer after evaluating parameters like publisher’s profile, ad placement, the ground cost of available impression, etc.).
A few of better-known DSPs include DoubleClick Bid Manager by Google, AdMission, MediaMath etc.
In line with the algorithm, DSPs assesses inventories to determine how valuable the sense is and if you should be involved in the auction on behalf of an advertiser. If DSP decides to sign up in bid auction, it sends a bid response returning to SSP
SSP gathers all bid responses and picks a winner in line with the second-price auction, that means, the individual that bids slightly over the second highest bidder.
SSP notifies winning DSP as well as 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 then be served as well as other content on a website.
And all of these steps occur with a lightning speed behind end even though the page loads!
Forms of Programmatic Buying
Programmatic Buying, as we know now, is automated buying of ad space over a web site. You can find fundamentally 2 forms of programmatic buying depending on if the ad space or inventory is bought through auction (Auction based) or by paying a set rate towards the publisher (fixed price).
Open auction: This is based on real-time auction-based bidding. Most prevalent of most programmatic buying
Invitation-only auction: This too is auction-based but bidding has limitations to pick advertisers selected from 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 rate: Price is prefixed but no ad space is set aside ahead of time
Automated guaranteed or Programmatic premium: It is really an automated procedure for buying guaranteed ad space that doesn’t involve an auction, where the pricing is prefixed and impressions are guaranteed. Generally, this kind 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 however its role remains confined to lexicons and concept instead of on actual spending of advertising dollars. Out of the global spending of USD 22 Bn on Programmatic buying in 2015, spending in India was actually a mere USD 25 M that makes it just above 1% share (Source: Media Global report cited in eMarketer )
By 2018, it’s projected that this health care industry will spend $2.2 billion on digital media. With roughly 40% of media buys being programmatic, healthcare marketers use a great opportunity on their hands. Not only is programmatic the brand new buzzword, yet it is estimated that 70% of most media buys is going to be programmatic in 2016. That’s significant growth over 2 yrs.
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 buy ad space or inventory. Programmatic buying, alternatively, allows precision and previously unthought-of granularity to reach target customers with better engagement and lower costs. Allow me to present some the real world scenarios to create home the impact of Programmatic Buying dental advertising.
Imagine you are visiting nearby pharmacy store to get sugar control medication after doing a bit of online search about medicines dosage and negative effects. Suddenly your smartphone buzzes. Curious to know, you look at the inbox and look for email message inviting anyone to take a free diabetes check-up in a Clinic only a block clear of your location.
Almost scary, isn’t it! Well, this is just what Programmatic can perform. It reaches your predefined customers or audience at the right moment by using a right message. And all sorts of such a thing happens in milliseconds in a automated fashion, thanks to footprints, or say Cookies, you left while searching the web.
Programmatic buying has changed the approach from rendering same advertising message to an incredible number of customers to making a unique message for individual customers based upon her need at that moment of time. A proof of concept for this might be how medical health insurance may be bought by using a Programmatic platform.
Whilst you were renewing medical health insurance policy online to your parents, an advertisement banner flashed across your laptop screen proclaiming to supply better coverage with accessories at the lesser premium. Your message is indeed timely and apt that one could not resist but clicking the ad. It feels that ‘someone’ is following your foot trails online. It turns out that there should indeed be ‘someone’ that follow users to supply messages which are very apt and timely.
In many ways, data analytics is the lifeblood of automated buying. Although a massive amount of info is gathered in the healthcare industry, for example, a hospital, almost no of it can be 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 may be used to capture customer intent by placing a cookie on customer’s browser which may then follow and track a customer’s online journey and set meaningful and compelling messages to operate a vehicle 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 produce homogenous number of audiences having similar traits like age, web surfing history, online purchases, content sharing on social websites, medical content consumed, etc.
We will conjure up a probable scenario to get a hospital that is going to launch Diabetes Management Program and wants to reach targeted audience utilizing their primary data base gathered over past years. Data points like e-mail address and make contact with quantities of patients undergoing care under endocrinologist would turn 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 make certain that message is rendered on user’s SERPs wherever they use the web.
The great thing of programmatic advertising is that it can integrate all media delivery options and deliver the message to right audiences wherever they live online whether it be video, search ads, mobile, display or social media marketing. Such media optimization turns into a captive and engaged audience to marketers contributing to maximum value out from marketing dollar spent.
Say you want to target women inside their early 40s surviving in North Bangalore for promoting cancers of the breast screening. Programmatic-strategy for carrying this out is deliver your message on the in-market audience directly by capturing basic patient’s intent and then tracking their online behavior. For instance, say 45-years old females who visited your Oncology web site and is also searching information online on “prevention of cancer of the breast”.
Programmatic Buying allows you to meet the needs of your unique potential audience who may be at the far end of buyer’s journey and contains an increased propensity of getting should your message touches their cord. Programmatic Buying enables you to track investment or to put it differently, makes returns attributable. Advertising has turned into a niche endeavor and Programmatic Buying comes 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 must stand guard against. Such bad practices permeate throughout the Programmatic ecosystem and therefore are omnipresent across industries including healthcare.
Within a 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 has become slow to adapt programmatic buying because medical ethics restrict any form of advertising to patients, even the audience retargeting using cookies
2) Ad misplacement: Ad placement while attempting to reach a prospect, say a Physician within a non-clinical environment just like a Game Center or Expedia Travel site might actually dilute need for brand and message
3) Control: As above mentioned, Demand Side Platforms are aggregators of inventory to make them accessible for Advertisers. However, in healthcare industry, not many reputed medical publishers like PubMed, WebMD, The Lancet, NEJM etc. may renounce control of their inventory to let open ad ecosystem like Programmatic take control of. That is the reason why most medical publishers still prefer reserved, non-auction depending on 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 restricted and finite, mostly these are bought via direct 1-to-1 Publisher-Advertiser model resulting in 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 not entirely untrue in healthcare either. Media space buying in healthcare predominantly is through either direct buyout involving humans or direct buyout involving automation, referred to as the Programmatic Direct. Hence, precisely what is left is a less coveted, tier-2 inventory. Although buying this inventory may help derive engagement at reduced 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 enable automated buying to healthcare publishers. However, given that transparency and neutrality of open buying platform would be compromised with such agencies, there is very little incentive for advertisers to work with such private ad exchanges. Besides, scale and inventory provided by such private exchanges is also limited when compared with full-service media agencies.
Aside these challenges which are specific to medical industry, Programmatic Buying has some inherent concerns that are pervasive across industries. Like some outlined below:
8) Non-human traffic: Non-human traffic or the NHT as is also commonly referred in Programmatic world is considered the most prevalent method 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 component of malware that inflates the performance matrices by masquerading as organic activity. Common instances of this can be paid ‘likes’ or ‘ 1s’ on social media marketing.
9) Viewability: Viewability is the odds of an advert to be noticed. Often times a big proportion of impressions that advertisers pay money 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 net or using apps. Most publishers and professional bloggers rely on advertising as being the main way to obtain their revenue. Together with ad blocking into position, a blogger would lose an incentive to produce free-to-consume content unless the alternate stream of revenue is offered in their mind. Likewise, publisher websites get bored since their revenue model based on content-for-advertising is compromised
Programmatic buying is a prominent inclusion in marketer’s quiver since last decade. Medical industry is slow to wake up for this phenomenon as a result of industry-specific challenges. However, adoption of web data, involvement of social networking companies and proliferation of healthcare specific ad networks to manage automated buying in healthcare would only mitigate these challenges.
The internet marketing plastic surgeons including hospitals and pharmaceutical companies can be wise to consider programmatic buying included in a core marketing plan and move from broad, segment-based marketing to specific fine-grained messages crafted to get, nurture and convert potential prospects or patients.