Why Your Audiences Will Thank You for Buying Programmatically


I want my life to be about me. That may sound selfish, but like everyone I know, I’m busy and time-crunched, and have come to expect personalization and customization in today’s on-demand world. My phone instantly shows my favorite apps, my Starbucks barista knows my order, and Amazon suggests other gadgets I may like. On the flip side, it drives me crazy when my favorite brands don’t understand me.

My wife and I subscribe to Netflix.  We are constantly bombarded with digital banner ads trying to get us to sign up.  Quit selling to us!  We already bought!  Netflix, and anyone advertising digitally can be doing a much better job reaching me and with relevant messages.  They should turn to programmatic buying to help them, and those that already are, should get better. It is particularly critical that healthcare and pharma brands utilize programmatic buying because it is so important to get things right when we are trying to help someone who is sick or care for a loved one with an illness.

Programmatic buying allows marketers to reach only those that they want to reach, or at least look very much look like those that they want to reach.

More importantly, what I pay is a function of what I bid in an auction, instead of some rate card set months before.  As we at CMI build plans for healthcare clients, we are charged with being as precise as possible.  For example, instead of wasting limited funds reaching every page related to diabetes treatments or conditions, I would rather have an ad appear in front of those who have recently researched diabetes, or who signed up to receive diabetic-friendly recipes, or who are endocrinologists that tend to prescribe my competitors’ products a lot.  Let my competitors waste their money.  Instead of paying $200 CPM so that I can rotate through endocrinology pages on a leading HCP site, I’m fine bidding a $400 CPM on those same pages if I reach only those endocrinologists most important to me.  The extra cost is easily made up for by the reduction in waste.

Customers, whether they are called “patients” or “nurses” or “doctors,” are ready for us as marketers to reach them with more appropriate messages.  Some companies, such as Citizenme, are even going so far as to help consumers harness their data and sell it to publishers for targeting purposes.  As covered in Wired magazine, “Facebook and other social networking sites aren’t free. They don’t charge you money to connect with friends, upload photos, and ‘like’ your favorite bands and businesses, but you still pay. You pay with your personal data, which these service use to target ads… The long-term plan is to provide a way for you to sell your own online data directly to advertisers and others of your choosing.”

How could this work for health marketers?

Scenario 1 – Newly diagnosed with Type II diabetes

My doctor just told me that I have Type II diabetes.  I’m confused.  There is so much information for me to go through.  How do I eat better?  How do I remember to take my medications?  What will this do to my family?  I need help.  If you can help me, I’m willing to let you know a little bit about me.  But, don’t waste my time.  I told you that I was just diagnosed with Type II diabetes.  Don’t bother me with an ad for an insulin pump.  Maybe that will be in my future but it’s not my present.  Also don’t bother me with resources for stroke prevention.  Perhaps folks like me are at greater risk for stroke, but again, help me with my diagnosis, not something that is unlikely to happen at all, and if it does, is years away.

Scenario 2 – Busy clinician

I don’t have much time.  I also work for an institution that doesn’t allow sales rep to visit with me.  And lastly, this institution provides me with access to all the journals, UpToDate, drug reference guides, and so on.  But, I still use Google when I want to find something quickly.  That takes me to lots of sites with credible info, and those sites have ads.  I’ll tell you that I’m an endocrinologist who treats a lot of people with Type II diabetes.  I’ll even tell you that I’ve been doing this for a long time and am a bit traditional.

That said, if you have something interesting to tell me and can deliver it in an ad, I am more likely to pay attention (As we know from our Media Vitals™ research – chart on the next page – doctors across all specialties are more likely to click an ad if it offers value to them, with information about the product at the top of the list).  If you’re simply trying to use fancy messages to make yourself stand out from your competitors (i.e. you’re a me-too drug), don’t waste my time.

What features of an online Pharma ad would make you click on it? (check all that apply) [Source: CMI/Compas Media Vitals™ 2014]

If you are indeed a me-too drug (and that is ok), tell me how it’s cheaper for my patients to use you instead of the next one.  Or tell me how you are going to help my patients with resources for healthier living, better than your competitors.  Again, I don’t have much time, so use what little I give of it to you wisely.

Bottom Line on Why Health Marketers Should Use Programmatic Buying