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 at a granular level. Programmatic buying ecosystem reaches the core of the revolution and it has triggered a paradigm shift from healthcare advertising buying to targeted ad placements according to user behavior.
Programmatic buying means sale and buy of media instantly inside an automated manner through software and algorithms. Automation is live and accurate to such extent it not merely saves time but additionally improves efficiencies regarding ROIs and reaching a target market with laser-guided precision.
While Programmatic buying has not yet taken the healthcare domain by storm, a buzz across the topic has started getting louder lately.
Media buying in healthcare quintessentially continues to be carried out a conventional manner through sales teams approaching publishers either offline or internet and go through a long process RFQs, negotiations, preparing artworks and specs modifications, purchase indenting, vendor onboarding and ultimately releasing payment. And all of this convoluted process has to pass through just before the ad is even published. Hence you will discover a lag between purchase intent and actual media release. And that is what Programmatic is useful at solving.
So 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, allow us to understand some popular terms found in the Programmatic Buying world and also just how the Programmatic ecosystem actually works.
When a user clicks an internet page which includes an advertising space on it, the publisher of your web page sends a cookie to user’s internet browser (Chrome, Internet Explorer, Bing… whichever).
Exactly what is Cookie: Cookie, in simple terms, is really a small data file which is sent from publisher’s web server to user’s browser which serves to build user’s identity
In case an inventory (advertising space over a website) is available for sale, it triggers a request from publisher’s Ad Server with their Supply Side Platform (SSP) to fill the Ad slot
Concept of SSP: You might think of Supply Side Platforms (SSPs) like a library or storehouse of Ad Inventories accessible for placing your advertisement. It is actually a platform that connects sellers (sites, blogs, directories etc.) with buyers or advertisers who compete against the other person 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 consumer who is going to view the Ad like her demographic profile, browsing history, etc. These details helps DSPs to make an educated decision in regards to a user before making a bid.
What is a DSP? : Demand Side Platform or DSP, as they are referred in programmatic world, is actually a doorway to buy advertising space in a automated fashion. Think about 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 floor expense of available impression, etc.).
Several of better-known DSPs include DoubleClick Bid Manager by Google, AdMission, MediaMath etc.
Based on the algorithm, DSPs assesses inventories to find out how valuable the impression is and whether or not to get involved in the auction on the part of an advertiser. If DSP decides to participate in bid auction, it sends a bid response to SSP
SSP gathers all bid responses and picks a success depending on the second-price auction, that means, the one who bids slightly on top of the second highest bidder.
SSP notifies winning DSP along with the DSP, therefore, sends Ad serving code to SSP. Finally, SSP passes on Ad serving code to user’s browser and renders the Ad. The Ad is then served along with other content on a website.
And all of these steps take place with a lightning speed at the back end even though the page loads!
Types of Programmatic Buying
Programmatic Buying, as we know now, is automated buying of ad space on a webpage. You will find fundamentally 2 types of programmatic buying depending on whether or not the ad space or inventory is bought through auction (Auction based) or if you are paying a fixed rate on the publisher (fixed price).
Open auction: This is based on real-time auction-based bidding. Most prevalent of all the programmatic buying
Invitation-only auction: This too is auction-based but bidding is limited to pick advertisers selected by way of a publisher. More premium inventory sold in a higher price. Some publishers give ‘first look’ benefit to some advertisers before ad space is seen to others
Unreserved set rate: Prices are prefixed but no ad space is defined aside beforehand
Automated guaranteed or Programmatic premium: It is an automated procedure of buying guaranteed ad space that doesn’t involve an auction, in which the price is prefixed and impressions are guaranteed. Generally, this particular type is most premium of all types.
Scope of Programmatic Buying in Healthcare
Programmatic marketing has not yet taken medical industry by storm yet by any stretch of the imagination, especially so in India. Even if this marketing phenomenon is discussed in marketing conferences and agency boardrooms but its role continues to be restricted to lexicons and concept rather than on actual spending of promoting dollars. Out from the global spending of USD 22 Bn on Programmatic buying in 2015, spending in India was actually a mere USD 25 M rendering it just above 1% share (Source: Media Global report cited in eMarketer )
By 2018, it’s projected that this medical 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 their own hands. Not only is programmatic the new buzzword, but it is estimated that 70% of most media buys will likely be programmatic in 2016. That’s significant growth over 2 years.
Healthcare media buying in India remains predominantly completed by traditional spray-and-pray, at best loosely targeted media campaigns involving humans (read- sales team) that negotiate with publishers or media agencies to get ad space or inventory. Programmatic buying, however, allows precision and previously unthought-of granularity to arrive at target customers with better engagement minimizing costs. Let me present some the real world scenarios to create home the impact of Programmatic Buying dental marketing agencies.
Imagine you are visiting nearby pharmacy store to buy sugar control medication after doing a bit of online search about medicines dosage and side effects. Suddenly your smartphone buzzes. Curious to learn, you examine your inbox and find email message inviting anyone to take a free diabetes check-up with a Clinic simply a block from what your location is.
Almost scary, isn’t it! Well, this is exactly what Programmatic can perform. It reaches your predefined customers or audience on the right moment having a right message. And all sorts of such a thing happens in milliseconds within an automated fashion, because of footprints, or say Cookies, you left while looking the web.
Programmatic buying is different the approach from rendering same advertising message to countless customers to creating a distinctive message for individual customers according to her need right then of time. A evidence of concept for this may be how health insurance might be bought employing a Programmatic platform.
When you were renewing health insurance policy online to your parents, an advertisement banner flashed across your laptop screen proclaiming to offer better coverage with add-ons in a lesser premium. Your message is very 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 is indeed ‘someone’ that follow users to deliver messages which are very apt and timely.
In ways, data analytics will be the lifeblood of automated buying. Although a tremendous volume of data is gathered from the healthcare industry, for example, a hospital, virtually no of this is utilized effectively to build effective data-driven strategy.
First party data sources in hospitals like patient registration kiosk of Hospital Information System, CRMs or possibly a Website could 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 set meaningful and compelling messages to get engagement with patients or customers. This primary data together with 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 make homogenous number of audiences having similar traits like age, web surfing history, online purchases, content sharing on social networking, medical content consumed, etc.
We will conjure up a probable scenario for any hospital that is about to launch Diabetes Management Program and wishes to reach targeted audience utilizing their primary data base gathered over past years. Data points like e-mail address and contact amounts of patients undergoing care under endocrinologist would be a good audience pool to run 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 sure that message is rendered on user’s SERPs wherever they use the web.
The best thing of programmatic advertising is it can integrate all media delivery options and provide the message to right audiences wherever they live online whether it is video, search ads, mobile, display or social websites. Such media optimization receives a captive and engaged audience to marketers resulting in maximum value away from marketing dollar spent.
Say you would like to target women inside their early 40s residing in North Bangalore for promoting cancers of the breast screening. Programmatic-means of accomplishing this is deliver your message for the in-market audience directly by capturing basic patient’s intent after which tracking their online behavior. For instance, say 45-yr old women that visited your Oncology webpage and is also searching information online on “prevention of cancers of the breast”.
Programmatic Buying permits you to serve your particular potential audience who seems to be with the far end of buyer’s journey and has an increased propensity of getting when your message touches their cord. Programmatic Buying helps to track investment or in other words, makes returns attributable. Advertising has changed into a niche endeavor and Programmatic Buying comes being 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 have to stand guard against. Such bad practices permeate all over the Programmatic ecosystem and so are omnipresent across industries including healthcare.
In the highly regulated healthcare sector, these challenges are much more evident. So let me 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 kind of advertising to patients, even audience retargeting using cookies
2) Ad misplacement: Ad placement while seeking to reach a prospect, say a health care provider within a non-clinical environment like a Game Center or Expedia Travel site could possibly dilute significance of brand and message
3) Control: As previously mentioned, Demand Side Platforms are aggregators of inventory making them accessible for Advertisers. However, in healthcare industry, very few reputed medical publishers like PubMed, WebMD, The Lancet, NEJM etc. may renounce control of their inventory permit open ad ecosystem like Programmatic dominate. That is why most medical publishers still prefer reserved, non-auction based on programmatic buying like either Programmatic Direct.
4) Higher costs: Due to 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 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 that a media bought through Programmatic model can be a leftover, remnant inventory. This is simply not entirely untrue in healthcare either. Media space buying in healthcare predominantly is through direct buyout involving humans or direct buyout involving automation, referred to as the Programmatic Direct. Hence, exactly what is left is actually a less coveted, tier-2 inventory. Although buying this inventory may help derive engagement at 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. In fact we already have some media buying platforms in healthcare like MM&M, Compas etc. which allow automated buying to healthcare publishers. However, considering that transparency and neutrality of open buying platform could be compromised with your agencies, there is very little incentive for advertisers to do business with such private ad exchanges. Besides, scale and inventory provided with such private exchanges can also be limited in comparison with full-service media agencies.
Aside these challenges that happen to be specific to medical industry, Programmatic Buying has some inherent concerns that are pervasive across industries. For example some outlined below:
8) Non-human traffic: Non-human traffic or maybe the NHT as they are 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 become actual humans while actually these are bit of malware that inflates the performance matrices by masquerading as organic activity. Common samples of this is paid ‘likes’ or ‘ 1s’ on social media.
9) Viewability: Viewability is the odds of an advert to be seen. Many times a big proportion of impressions that advertisers purchase 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 eliminate advertising while browsing the net or using apps. Most publishers and professional bloggers depend on advertising because the main supply of their revenue. And with ad blocking into position, a blogger would lose an incentive to make free-to-consume content unless the alternate stream of revenue can be obtained directly to them. Likewise, publisher websites get bored since their revenue model according to content-for-advertising is compromised
Programmatic buying has been a prominent inclusion in marketer’s quiver since last decade. Healthcare industry is slow to awaken to this particular phenomenon as a result of industry-specific challenges. However, adoption of web data, involvement of social media marketing companies and proliferation of healthcare specific ad networks to handle automated buying in healthcare would only mitigate these challenges.
The plastic surgeon marketing including hospitals and pharmaceutical companies could be best if you consider programmatic buying as an element of a core web marketing strategy and move from broad, segment-based marketing to specific fine-grained messages crafted to draw in, nurture and convert prospective customers or patients.