Right Place at the Right Time: Dynamic Content Ads in Healthcare Marketing


Digital advertising in the HCP space typically consists of developing standard HTML5 banners with one or two calls to action to drive the viewer to additional information. Other banners, such as expandable banners, can be more interactive, exposing the viewer to more content for deeper engagement. But what if your digital banner message could render differently in real time? Changing the message to be as specific and informative to the viewer at the right place at the right time? What if this kind of technology existed, changing the future of audience targeting?

As of May 2017, the Interactive Advertising Bureau released the official guidelines for Dynamic Content Ads. Dynamic Content Ads are digital ads that utilize a “structured system of meta-data for defining creative components and their asset variations in an ad unit.”

Meaning, the Dynamic Ads have the capability to change the content and messaging within a display ad. Gender, weather, geography, and language are all aspects that can be taken into consideration to determine what version of an ad should render thus giving the marketer the strategic advantage of getting the appropriate message in front of the target audience at the right time.

The official guidelines came after the initial release of the “Standard,” which occurred in October 2016, where the IAB shared the document and opened it up for public comment. The IAB collaborated with companies and technical professionals to receive feedback based on the “Standard.” Closing the open forum in late November, the IAB reviewed the feedback and made the necessary revisions to then release the final version in May 2017.

Benefits & Challenges:

Utilizing these types of ad will also decrease the time needed around developing multiple ads as creative developers can now develop one creative shell per ad size and use DoubleClick to swap out the content that would populate the content within the ad. Creative developers can apply the Dynamic format to standard banners, expanding units and interstitials. For ad traffickers, they also will experience benefits from Dynamic Content Ads as the traffickers will only need to traffic a single creative ID per ad size, instead of a creative for each unique creative iteration.

However, with new technology, the benefits often times are followed by challenges. A challenge that may occur with Dynamic ads would be getting it through Medical/Regulatory as the approval process typically requires every rendering of each ad and since a brand could have countless versions of one ad with Dynamic ads, it may be difficult to get the concept past Med/Reg. A way to help the ad through approval would be to have brackets or parentheses surrounding the content that would be changing (i.e. the temperature or location). Explaining this would change based on location to Medical/Regulatory may be accepted.

Another challenge would be the QA process. It would be difficult for a team to ensure that an ad in another state is rendering correctly if it is across the country. There is however a way around this. A team can use a proxy server located in each state and rent the server for a monthly fee.

One final challenge may be that of respecting the privacy of Healthcare Providers. We live in a day and age where some personal information is accessible and can be used to persuade us into shopping or re-visiting a site (re-targeting). Marketers may want to be mindful with Dynamic ads and tracking the physicians. Dynamic ads should be informative but shouldn’t encourage ad blocking with anything non-endemic.

Strategic Implementation Examples:

Though the examples found on IAB’s website show strictly consumer usage there is still opportunity within the healthcare market.

Ad pictured above demonstrates the ability to use the local weather to encourage the viewer to shop for outdoor running shoes in their area

Dynamic Content ads could be utilized by brands that treat seasonal symptoms such as allergies or the flu. The ads could change in for every season when pollen count in high or if it is flu season and inform the HCP that it is time to consider X drug for their patients as the weather is changing.  Dynamic Ads would benefit Formulary media plans as the ads could update based on location to incorporate specific plan information relevant to that geography.


If working on a plan that could benefit from multiple messages being delivered based on location (i.e. formulary wins, weather/seasonal symptoms, etc.) It is critical for the media and creative agencies to work closely together to bring this approach to fruition.  In a landscape that is becoming more and more focused on messages customized to the individual, dynamic ads can achieve the goal of delivering the right messages to the right target at the right time.  Not only can dynamic ads eliminate waste in terms of broad impressions, but also is a more cost and time efficient way for creative agencies to develop banners assets.

If dynamic ads are of interest and make strategic sense for a digital campaign, here are some preliminary questions provided by Google that should be asked across the brand team and creative agency: