Data management programs enabled with technologies have completely changed the way in which marketers buy media today. More and more companies are embracing technologies that facilitate media transactions in real-time and at a granular level. Programmatic buying ecosystem is in the core of the revolution and it has triggered a paradigm shift from medical advertising buying to targeted ad placements based on user behavior.
Programmatic buying means sale and purchase of media instantly in an automated manner through software and algorithms. Automation is real-time and accurate to such extent which it not merely saves time and also improves efficiencies with regards to ROIs and reaching a target audience with laser-guided precision.
While Programmatic buying has not yet taken the healthcare domain by storm, a buzz throughout the topic has started getting louder lately.
Media buying in healthcare quintessentially has been completed in a conventional manner through sales teams approaching publishers either offline or online and go using a long process RFQs, negotiations, preparing artworks and specs modifications, purchase indenting, vendor onboarding and in the end releasing payment. And all of this convoluted process has to undergo just before the ad is even published. Hence you will find a lag between purchase intent and actual media release. And that is certainly what Programmatic is useful at solving.
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 exactly does Programmatic Buying Works? The Programmatic Ecosystem
First, we will understand some popular terms utilized in the Programmatic Buying world as well as exactly how the Programmatic ecosystem really works.
Each time a user clicks an internet page which includes a promotional space into it, the publisher of your web site sends a cookie to user’s browser (Chrome, Internet Explorer, Bing… whichever).
What is Cookie: Cookie, in simple terms, is a small data file that may be sent from publisher’s web server to user’s web browser which serves to establish user’s identity
In the event an inventory (advertising space on the 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) 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 the other for available Ad space.
A few of the popular 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 details about the person who is about to see the Ad like her demographic profile, browsing history, etc. These details helps DSPs to create a well informed decision in regards to a user before making a bid.
What exactly is a DSP? : Demand Side Platform or DSP, because they are referred in programmatic world, is really a doorway to get advertising space inside an automated fashion. Consider DSPs as advertiser’s gatekeepers who matches inventories with buyer’s marketing objectives. DSPs make bidding decision on behalf of a buyer after evaluating parameters like publisher’s profile, ad placement, the ground expense of available impression, etc.).
A few of better-known DSPs include DoubleClick Bid Manager by Google, AdMission, MediaMath etc.
In accordance 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, which means, the individual who bids slightly above the second highest bidder.
SSP notifies winning DSP and also the DSP, in turn, 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 along with other content on the web page.
And all of these steps happen at the lightning speed at the back end while the page loads!
Kinds of Programmatic Buying
Programmatic Buying, as you may know now, is automated buying of ad space over a website. There are fundamentally 2 varieties of programmatic buying dependant upon if the ad space or inventory is bought through auction (Auction based) or if you are paying a set 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 pick advertisers selected from a publisher. More premium inventory sold with a higher price. Some publishers give ‘first look’ advantage to some advertisers before ad space is seen to others
Unreserved fixed interest rate: Price is prefixed but no ad space is defined aside in advance
Automated guaranteed or Programmatic premium: This is an automated technique of buying guaranteed ad space that doesn’t involve an auction, in which the prices are prefixed and impressions are guaranteed. Generally, this sort is most premium of all types.
Scope of Programmatic Buying in Healthcare
Programmatic marketing has not yet taken health care industry by storm yet by any stretch in the imagination, especially so in India. Even though this marketing phenomenon is discussed in marketing conferences and agency boardrooms but its role is still confined to lexicons and concept as opposed to on actual spending of advertising dollars. From the global spending of USD 22 Bn on Programmatic buying in 2015, spending in India was a mere USD 25 M making 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 possess a great opportunity on their own hands. Not only is programmatic the latest buzzword, yet it is estimated that 70% of all the media buys will likely be programmatic in 2016. That’s significant growth over 2 years.
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, on the other hand, allows precision and previously unthought-of granularity to achieve target customers with better engagement minimizing costs. Permit me to present some actual life scenarios to create home the impact of Programmatic Buying dental advertising.
Imagine you are visiting nearby pharmacy store to acquire sugar control medication after doing a little online search about medicines dosage and side effects. Suddenly your smartphone buzzes. Curious to understand, you examine your inbox and look for email message inviting anyone to go on a free diabetes check-up at a Clinic simply a block from where you stand.
Almost scary, isn’t it! Well, and this is what Programmatic is capable of doing. It reaches your predefined customers or audience with the right moment by using a right message. And this takes place in milliseconds within an automated fashion, due to footprints, or say Cookies, you left while searching the net.
Programmatic buying is different the approach from rendering same advertising message to countless customers to making an original message for individual customers based on her need at that moment of time. A evidence of concept for this could be how health insurance may be bought utilizing a Programmatic platform.
While you were renewing health insurance policy online for your parents, an ad banner flashed across your laptop screen proclaiming to offer better coverage with add-ons with a lesser premium. The content is indeed timely and apt that you might not resist but clicking the ad. It feels that ‘someone’ is after the foot trails online. It appears that there is definitely ‘someone’ that follow users to provide messages which can be very apt and timely.
In a way, data analytics may be the lifeblood of automated buying. Although an enormous level of information is gathered inside the health care industry, for example, a hospital, little or no of this is used effectively to build effective data-driven strategy.
First party data sources in hospitals like patient registration kiosk of Hospital Information System, CRMs or even a Website could be used to capture customer intent by placing a cookie on customer’s browser that may then follow and track a customer’s online journey and set meaningful and compelling messages to operate engagement with patients or customers. This primary data together with a second-party data from affiliates or online subscription agencies and third-party data bought 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.
Allow us to conjure up a probable scenario for any hospital that is going to launch Diabetes Management Program and wishes to reach targeted audience employing their primary data base gathered over past years. Data points like e-mail address and contact amounts 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 to get sent to prospective patient’s Gmail inbox, the RLSA campaign would ensure that message is rendered on user’s SERPs wherever they use the internet.
The best thing of programmatic advertising is it can integrate all media delivery options and deliver the message to right audiences wherever they live online whether it is 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 need to target women with their early 40s residing in North Bangalore for promoting cancer of the breast screening. Programmatic-means of carrying this out is deliver your message to the in-market audience directly by capturing basic patient’s intent after which tracking their online behavior. For example, say 45-yr old women that visited your Oncology website and it is searching information online on “prevention of cancer of the breast”.
Programmatic Buying lets you serve your particular audience who may be with the far end of buyer’s journey and possesses a better propensity of purchasing in case your message touches their cord. Programmatic Buying helps to track investment or to put it differently, makes returns attributable. Advertising has become a niche endeavor and Programmatic Buying has arrived like a potent tool in marketers purpose to unravel key steps to niche marketing.
Programmatic Buying comes along with its share of challenges and unethical practices that digital marketers ought to stand guard against. Such bad practices permeate all over the Programmatic ecosystem and are omnipresent across industries including healthcare.
In a highly regulated healthcare sector, these challenges are much more evident. So permit me to address some burning issues plaguing the Programmatic Buying in healthcare
1) Restrictions on retargeting: Hospital industry continues to be 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 looking to reach a prospect, say a doctor in a non-clinical environment like a Game Center or Expedia Travel site could actually dilute need for brand and message
3) Control: As earlier mentioned, Demand Side Platforms are aggregators of inventory making them designed for Advertisers. However, in healthcare industry, only a few reputed medical publishers like PubMed, WebMD, The Lancet, NEJM etc. may renounce control of their inventory to permit 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: On account 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 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 can be 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, called the Programmatic Direct. Hence, what exactly is left can be 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 emerged. The truth is we already have some media buying platforms in healthcare like MM&M, Compas etc. that permit automated buying to healthcare publishers. However, considering the fact that transparency and neutrality of open buying platform can be compromised with your agencies, there is very little incentive for advertisers to work alongside such private ad exchanges. Besides, scale and inventory available with such private exchanges is also limited in comparison with full-service media agencies.
Aside these challenges which can be specific to medical industry, Programmatic Buying has some inherent problems that are pervasive across industries. Like some outlined below:
8) Non-human traffic: Non-human traffic or maybe the NHT as is commonly referred in Programmatic world is the most prevalent type 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 may be component of malware that inflates the performance matrices by masquerading as organic activity. Common examples of this is paid ‘likes’ or ‘ 1s’ on social media.
9) Viewability: Viewability is the possibilities of an ad to be seen. Often times a huge proportion of impressions that advertisers pay money for goes unseen either due to 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 net or using apps. Most publishers and professional bloggers rely on advertising since the main source of their revenue. Along with ad blocking into position, a blogger would lose an incentive to create free-to-consume content unless the alternate stream of revenue is offered for them. Likewise, publisher websites lose interest since their revenue model based upon 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 get out of bed to this phenomenon as a result of industry-specific challenges. However, adoption of data, involvement of social media 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 will be a good idea to consider programmatic buying included in 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.