Tara Wesson
11th Feb, 2022

Over the last decade, the world’s ad consumption has shifted from television, print, and radio to mostly online advertising. In fact, in 2019, over 53.2% of Australian ad spend was digital.

In recent years, programmatic advertising has emerged as a new digital advertising delivery method that uses powerful algorithm-based technology to buy and sell ads in real-time. As a practice, it has radically shaken up the world of digital display advertising.

Most industries have embraced programmatic advertising, but why hasn’t the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry?

When it comes to health and medical-related issues, a lot of government regulations are involved. The significant amount of red tape has got healthcare brands in fear of AHPRA fines.

Healthcare brands shouldn’t let this deter them from the amazing growth potential of programmatic advertising. Read on to find out why your business could gain an edge over competitors with programmatic advertising.

 

How does programmatic advertising work?

Programmatic advertising uses technology to optimise and streamline digital display advertising. It uses auction-based software to purchase digital ad space in real-time on an impression-by-impression basis.

This means, each impression is bought when it happens i.e. when the user is visiting the page. The buying and displaying of programmatic ads happen within about 100 milliseconds — before the user’s page finishes loading.

This is opposed to traditional methods of media buying, which involves a manual negotiation for a bulk number of impressions.

The advantage of buying each impression in real-time is that you can better target your audience. Programmatic advertising uses behavioural targeting and takes advantage of user data such as online activity, geographical location and demographics.

You’re not able to get this level of targeting with traditional advertising methods. When you buy a large number of impressions, you’re essentially shooting in the dark. You’re buying impressions that haven’t happened yet, as compared to ones happening in real-time.

Programmatic advertising also has a far greater reach and allows you to access multiple ad networks and exchanges. Ads can be displayed on more channels and platforms too. We’ll tackle this more below.

 

Health advertising in Australia

Australia’s healthcare and pharmaceutical industries are full of government regulatory red tape. There are stringent restrictions regarding what one can do with patient data as well as how healthcare businesses can advertise.

More specifically, healthcare businesses must be compliant with The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, also known as the National Law. It dictates the obligations regulated health services must adhere to in all advertising efforts.

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (APHRA), along with 15 National Boards, regulate the National Law. Regulated health services selling therapeutic goods like medicine or a medical device must also be compliant with Australian Consumer Law.

The body that governs the advertising of therapeutic goods is the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). View and download the guidelines for advertising a regulated health service here.

All this red tape has made healthcare businesses hesitant to take advantage of advertising, fearing significant fines. In fact, according to Zenith’s 2019 Healthcare Advertising Expenditure Forecast, healthcare advertising expenditure in Australia declined by 0.5% despite the forecasted 3.5% increase in global healthcare advertising expenditure.

These advertising guidelines for regulated health services are necessary, put in place to protect consumers. The health and wellbeing of consumers are directly influenced by the industries above, so the consequences of misinformation could be catastrophic.

However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t advertise. Programmatic advertising provides an excellent opportunity for healthcare businesses to grow by reaching target audiences with relevant ads. The key is to ensure that your advertising efforts are compliant with regulations.

 

The benefits of programmatic advertising for health brands

Programmatic advertising provides several benefits for health brands. In general, it’s a more efficient, cost-effective model of digital display advertising. Its use of software allows healthcare businesses to automate and streamline advertising efforts.

We’ve outlined the primary benefits of programmatic advertising for healthcare businesses below.

Improved Targeting

In health related advertising, targeting is sometimes more about who you can exclude than who you can include. For example, it’s better to show low-dose aspirin to people over 55 instead of wasting paying for clicks to people under the 50s.

Programmatic is perfect for health as it allows Granular Targeting Options:

  • Contextual targeting: this allows us to target certain verticals, such as health and lifestyle verticals.
  • The use of third party data also allows us to reach very targeted audience segments such as doctors, GPs, specialists.
  • Custom Site Lists target specific URLs such as health websites e.g. if users are researching health conditions through articles or YouTube.
  • Custom Segments: based on interest groups (e.g. fitness buffs, health, regular gym goers), using URLs of websites of interest, apps related to the target of interest.
  • Detailed Demographics on top of age and gender such as parental status (e.g. new parents).
  • Life events such as just married, moving houses, graduates.

Omnichannel Advertising

Even if the target market in health is smaller, you can reach scale by using more than one channel to reach relevant audiences. This also means that you can create a customised customer journey using different channels and touchpoints and by using machine learning based on the personas you have set up to target. Programmatic offers advertising across holistic customer journeys.

Programmatic advertising covers a larger amount of ad exchanges than just Google advertising or traditional media, allowing you to reach more people and yet be more targeted in reaching them, too. No other digital channel can be as targeted in reaching GPs, for example, than this.

So when restrictions severely limit the reach of health ads, programmatic makes it easier to reach the largest segment of your target audience by finding your audience where they are actively searching across all channels.

Real-Time Monitoring

Traditional health advertising can be very static and costly, leaving you unsure of the efficiency of static journals and channels. With programmatic, you can make real-time bids and adjustments, making it flexible. It also improves ROI.

 

Tips for Healthcare Businesses Using Programmatic

Compared to traditional methods of digital advertising, the programmatic method appears technical, requiring specialist knowledge and skillset. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The programmatic ecosystem is complex, however, using it to buy digital ad space isn’t.

To get the most out of programmatic advertising for your healthcare business, follow these tips:

  • Choose the right DSP software. The key to running successful programmatic ad campaigns is to choose the right demand-side platform (DSP). The DSP is the software used to buy digital ad space. A healthcare marketing agency might handle this for you.
  • Select the right audience targeting preferences. Enhanced targeting is one of the best aspects of programmatic advertising. Make sure you or your agency selects the ideal parameters for you to reach your ideal target market.
  • Select the right ad format. Because programmatic advertising is about digital display advertising, there are several types of ads you could buy inventory for. You could select banner ads or the increasingly popular video ad format. Programmatic video ads are tipped to be one of the fastest growing trends of 2022 but ultimately, what you choose depends on your goals.
  • Track your results and make adjustments. Like with any marketing or advertising strategy, you’ll want to track your results. The great thing about programmatic advertising is that you’re buying individual ad impressions in real-time as they occur. It allows you to make strategy changes, saving you money traditionally spent on prepaid impressions.

Programmatic advertising provides an ultimate opportunity for healthcare businesses to grow. It’s an extremely efficient, cost-effective way of advertising—one that makes targeting the right audience much easier.

Does this sound like something you might be interested in? Consider getting in touch with a specialised healthcare programmatic advertising agency to get started today.