Data management programs enabled with technologies have completely changed the way in which marketers buy media today. Increasingly more companies are embracing technologies that facilitate media transactions in real-time and with a granular level. Programmatic buying ecosystem is in the core of this revolution and it has triggered a paradigm shift from medical marketing company buying to targeted ad placements based on user behavior.
Programmatic buying means sale and buy of media instantly within an automated manner through software and algorithms. Automation is real time and accurate to such extent that it not merely saves time but also improves efficiencies with regards to ROIs and reaching a target audience with laser-guided precision.
While Programmatic buying has not yet yet taken the healthcare domain by storm, a buzz across the topic has begun getting louder recently.
Media buying in healthcare quintessentially is done in a conventional manner through sales teams approaching publishers either offline or internet and then go using a long process RFQs, negotiations, preparing artworks and specs modifications, purchase indenting, vendor onboarding and in the end releasing payment. And all sorts of this convoluted process has to endure just before the ad is even published. Hence you will discover a lag between purchase intent and actual media release. And that is certainly what Programmatic is good 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 does Programmatic Buying Works? The Programmatic Ecosystem
First, we will understand some frequently used terms found in the Programmatic Buying world as well as exactly how the Programmatic ecosystem really works.
Each time a user clicks a web page which includes a promotional space upon it, the publisher from the web page sends a cookie to user’s internet 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 internet browser which serves to determine user’s identity
In case an inventory (advertising space with a web site) is available for sale, it triggers a request from publisher’s Ad Server with their Supply Side Platform (SSP) to fill the Ad slot
Definition of SSP: You may be thinking of Supply Side Platforms (SSPs) like 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.
Some 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 the user who is going to begin to see the Ad like her demographic profile, browsing history, etc. This data helps DSPs to help make a knowledgeable decision in regards to a user before you make a bid.
What is a DSP? : Demand Side Platform or DSP, since they are referred in programmatic world, is a doorway to get advertising space within 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, a floor cost of available impression, etc.).
A number of better-known DSPs include DoubleClick Bid Manager by Google, AdMission, MediaMath etc.
In line with the algorithm, DSPs assesses inventories to ascertain 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 to SSP
SSP gathers all bid responses and picks a winner in accordance 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, subsequently, sends Ad serving code to SSP. Finally, SSP passes on Ad serving code to user’s browser and renders the Ad. The Ad is going to be served as well as other content on the website.
And all sorts of these steps take place with a lightning speed behind end while the page loads!
Kinds of Programmatic Buying
Programmatic Buying, as we know now, is automated buying of ad space over a web site. There are actually fundamentally 2 types of programmatic buying according to 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 will depend on real-time auction-based bidding. Most prevalent of programmatic buying
Invitation-only auction: This too is auction-based but bidding has limitations to pick advertisers selected with a publisher. More premium inventory sold with a higher price. Some publishers give ‘first look’ benefit to some advertisers before ad space is visible to others
Unreserved fixed interest rate: Price is prefixed but no ad space is scheduled aside upfront
Automated guaranteed or Programmatic premium: It is really an automated procedure for buying guaranteed ad space that doesn’t involve an auction, in which the price is 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 if this marketing phenomenon is discussed in marketing conferences and agency boardrooms but its role remains confined to lexicons and concept rather than on actual spending of marketing dollars. From the global spending of USD 22 Bn on Programmatic buying in 2015, spending in India was 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 healthcare industry will spend $2.2 billion on digital media. With roughly 40% of all the media buys being programmatic, healthcare marketers use a great opportunity on the hands. Not only is programmatic the brand new buzzword, however it is estimated that 70% of media buys will be programmatic in 2016. That’s significant growth over a couple of years.
Healthcare media buying in India continues to be predominantly done through 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, alternatively, allows precision and previously unthought-of granularity to arrive at target customers with better engagement minimizing costs. I want to present some the real world scenarios to create home the impact of Programmatic Buying dental online marketing.
Imagine you might be visiting nearby pharmacy store to purchase sugar control medication after doing a bit of online search about medicines dosage and negative effects. Suddenly your smartphone buzzes. Curious to understand, you look at the inbox and locate email message inviting anyone to take a free diabetes check-up with a Clinic only a block clear of your location.
Almost scary, isn’t it! Well, this is what Programmatic are capable of doing. It reaches your predefined customers or audience on the right moment with a right message. And such a thing happens in milliseconds inside an automated fashion, thanks to footprints, or say Cookies, you left while searching the world wide web.
Programmatic buying has changed the approach from rendering same advertising message to millions of customers to making an exclusive message for individual customers based on her need right then of your time. A evidence of concept for this could be how health care insurance could possibly be bought employing a Programmatic platform.
When you were renewing health care insurance policy online for your parents, an advertisement banner flashed across your laptop screen proclaiming to offer better coverage with accessories at the lesser premium. The message is very timely and apt that you could not resist but clicking the ad. It feels that ‘someone’ is after the foot trails online. It turns out that there is actually ‘someone’ that follow users to deliver messages that happen to be very apt and timely.
In such a way, data analytics is definitely the lifeblood of automated buying. Although a big level of details are gathered inside the health care industry, as an example, a hospital, hardly any than it is utilized effectively to construct 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 putting a cookie on customer’s browser which could 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 bought from outside data aggregators like telecom companies, other CRMs etc., is clustered to produce homogenous group of audiences having similar traits like age, web browsing history, online purchases, content sharing on social media marketing, medical content consumed, etc.
Let us conjure up a probable scenario for a hospital that is going 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 make contact with amounts 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 become transported to prospective patient’s Gmail inbox, the RLSA campaign would ensure that message is rendered on user’s SERPs wherever they use the web.
The good thing of programmatic advertising is it can integrate all media delivery options and deliver the message to right audiences wherever they live online be it video, search ads, mobile, display or social websites. Such media optimization receives a captive and engaged audience to marketers resulting in maximum value from marketing dollar spent.
Say you would like to target women within their early 40s residing in North Bangalore for promoting cancer of the breast screening. Programmatic-method of achieving this is deliver your message to the in-market audience directly by capturing basic patient’s intent and after that tracking their online behavior. For example, say 45-yr old women that visited your Oncology webpage and it is searching information online on “protection against cancers of the breast”.
Programmatic Buying lets you focus on your specific target audience who may be with the far end of buyer’s journey and has a greater propensity of buying when your message touches their cord. Programmatic Buying really helps to track investment or put simply, makes returns attributable. Advertising has changed into a niche endeavor and Programmatic Buying has come as being a potent tool in marketers purpose to unravel key steps to niche marketing.
Programmatic Buying comes with its share of challenges and unethical practices that digital marketers need to stand guard against. Such bad practices permeate across the Programmatic ecosystem and they are omnipresent across industries including healthcare.
Within a highly regulated healthcare sector, these challenges are much more evident. So allow me to address some burning issues plaguing the Programmatic Buying in healthcare
1) Restrictions on retargeting: Hospital industry is 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 attempting to reach a prospect, say a health care provider in a non-clinical environment just like a Game Center or Expedia Travel site could actually dilute incredible importance of logo and message
3) Control: As previously mentioned, Demand Side Platforms are aggregators of inventory and then make them readily available for Advertisers. However, in healthcare industry, not many reputed medical publishers like PubMed, WebMD, The Lancet, NEJM etc. may renounce power over their inventory to allow open ad ecosystem like Programmatic take control of. That is 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 greater than in other industries like retail and travel.
5) Inventory scale: Since ad spaces on medical sites is restricted and finite, mostly they can be bought via direct 1-to-1 Publisher-Advertiser model ultimately causing inflated CPMs and suboptimal performance parameters (read ROI)
6) Stale-on-Sale:General impression is the fact a media bought through Programmatic model is usually a leftover, remnant inventory. This is not entirely untrue in healthcare either. Media space buying in healthcare predominantly is either through direct buyout involving humans or direct buyout involving automation, referred to as the Programmatic Direct. Hence, what is left can be a less coveted, tier-2 inventory. Although buying this inventory can help derive engagement at far lower cost.
7) Private Healthcare Ad Exchanges:In view of medical data security, misplacements and privacy issues in healthcare, some proponents of exclusive healthcare ad exchanges have emerged. The truth is we already have some media buying platforms in healthcare like MM&M, Compas etc. that enable automated buying to healthcare publishers. However, provided that transparency and neutrality of open buying platform could be compromised by using these 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 likewise limited in comparison with full-service media agencies.
Aside these challenges that happen to be specific to medical industry, Programmatic Buying has some inherent issues that are pervasive across industries. For example some outlined below:
8) Non-human traffic: Non-human traffic or perhaps the NHT as it is commonly referred in Programmatic world is easily the most prevalent kind 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 are piece of malware that inflates the performance matrices by masquerading as organic activity. Common types of this is paid ‘likes’ or ‘ 1s’ on social websites.
9) Viewability: Viewability is the odds of an ad to be seen. Many times a sizable proportion of impressions that advertisers pay money for goes unseen either due to 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 internet or using apps. Most publishers and professional bloggers depend upon advertising since the main source of their revenue. Along with ad blocking set up, a blogger would lose an incentive to create free-to-consume content unless the alternate stream of revenue can be obtained to them. Likewise, publisher websites lose interest 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 awaken to the phenomenon because of industry-specific challenges. However, adoption of information, involvement of social websites companies and proliferation of healthcare specific ad networks to deal with automated buying in healthcare would only mitigate these challenges.
The marketing for plastic surgeons including hospitals and pharmaceutical companies could be a good idea to consider programmatic buying as part of a core marketing strategy and move from broad, segment-based marketing to specific fine-grained messages crafted to attract, nurture and convert potential prospects or patients.