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Data management programs enabled with technology has completely changed the way marketers buy media today. A lot more companies are embracing technologies that facilitate media transactions in real-efforts and at a granular level. Programmatic buying ecosystem reaches the core of this revolution and it has triggered a paradigm shift from medical marketing solutions 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 it not merely saves time but additionally improves efficiencies when it comes to 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 in recent years.

Media buying in healthcare quintessentially continues to be completed in a traditional manner through sales teams approaching publishers either offline or internet and go by way of a long process RFQs, negotiations, preparing artworks and specs modifications, purchase indenting, vendor onboarding and finally releasing payment. And all of this convoluted process has to endure before the ad is even published. Hence there is a lag between purchase intent and actual media release. And that is what Programmatic is useful at solving.

So, just how does Programmatic buying works and why hasn’t it caught the imaginations of healthcare marketer yet? Let us dig into details.

How can Programmatic Buying Works? The Programmatic Ecosystem

First, allow us to understand some widely used terms utilized in the Programmatic Buying world and also just how the Programmatic ecosystem really works.

Step 1:

Whenever a user clicks on a web-based page which includes a marketing space onto it, the publisher of the web page sends a cookie to user’s browser (Chrome, Internet Explorer, Bing… whichever).

What exactly is Cookie: Cookie, in simple terms, is really a small data file that is certainly sent from publisher’s web server to user’s internet browser which serves to ascertain user’s identity

Step Two:

In the event that an inventory (advertising space on the website) is available for sale, it triggers a request from publisher’s Ad Server for their Supply Side Platform (SSP) to fill the Ad slot

Concept of SSP: You might think of Supply Side Platforms (SSPs) similar to a library or storehouse of Ad Inventories designed for placing your advertisement. It is a platform that connects sellers (web sites, blogs, directories etc.) with buyers or advertisers who compete against each other for available Ad space.

Some of the famous supply side platforms are AppNexus, PubMatic, AOL or Google’s DoubleClick Ad Exchange.

Step Three:

SSP then issues a bid request to Demand Side Platform (DSP). This bid request contains information regarding the user who is about to view the Ad like her demographic profile, browsing history, etc. This data helps DSPs to produce a well informed decision with regards to a user before making a bid.

Just what is a DSP? : Demand Side Platform or DSP, because 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 surface value of available impression, etc.).

A number of better-known DSPs include DoubleClick Bid Manager by Google, AdMission, MediaMath etc.

Step 4:

In line with the algorithm, DSPs assesses inventories to determine how valuable the impression is and whether or not to be involved in the auction with respect to an advertiser. If DSP decides to participate in bid auction, it sends a bid response back to SSP

Step 5:

SSP gathers all bid responses and picks a success depending on the second-price auction, it means, the individual that bids slightly on top of the second highest bidder.

Step 6:

SSP notifies winning DSP and 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 and also other content with a webpage.

And these steps take place at a lightning speed at the back end whilst the page loads!

Varieties of Programmatic Buying

Programmatic Buying, as we know now, is automated buying of ad space with a website. There are actually fundamentally 2 varieties of programmatic buying depending on if the ad space or inventory is bought through auction (Auction based) or if you are paying a fixed rate on the publisher (fixed price).

Auction based:

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 is limited to decide on advertisers selected by 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

Fixed priced:

Unreserved set rate: Pricing is prefixed but no ad space is set aside in advance

Automated guaranteed or Programmatic premium: It is an automated process of buying guaranteed ad space that doesn’t involve an auction, in which the prices are prefixed and impressions are guaranteed. Generally, this type is most premium of all.

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. Although this marketing phenomenon is discussed in marketing conferences and agency boardrooms nonetheless its role remains tied to lexicons and concept as opposed to on actual spending of advertising dollars. Out from the global spending of USD 22 Bn on Programmatic buying in 2015, spending in India had been 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 most media buys being programmatic, healthcare marketers have got a great opportunity on their hands. Not simply is programmatic the brand new buzzword, yet it is estimated that 70% of all media buys will be programmatic in 2016. That’s significant growth over 2 years.

Healthcare media buying in India is still 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 get ad space or inventory. Programmatic buying, however, allows precision and previously unthought-of granularity to arrive at target customers with better engagement and minimize costs. Allow me to present some real life scenarios to take home the impact of Programmatic Buying marketing for dentists.

Imagine you might be visiting nearby pharmacy store to buy 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 your inbox and look for email message inviting anyone to go on a free diabetes check-up at a Clinic only a block far from what your location is.

Almost scary, isn’t it! Well, this is what Programmatic can perform. It reaches your predefined customers or audience in the right moment with a right message. And this occurs in milliseconds in an automated fashion, as a result of footprints, or say Cookies, you left while searching the internet.

Programmatic buying has changed the approach from rendering same advertising message to numerous customers to making an exclusive message for individual customers based on her need at that moment of energy. A evidence of concept for this might be how health care insurance could possibly be bought by using a Programmatic platform.

Whilst you were renewing medical insurance policy online to your parents, an advert banner flashed across your laptop screen proclaiming to provide better coverage with accessories at a lesser premium. Your message is so timely and apt that you might not resist but clicking the ad. It feels that ‘someone’ is following your foot trails online. It appears that there should indeed be ‘someone’ that follow users to deliver messages which can be very apt and timely.

In such a way, data analytics is the lifeblood of automated buying. Although a big level of info is gathered inside the healthcare industry, for instance, a hospital, virtually no than it can be used 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 may 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 in addition to 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 create homogenous selection of audiences having similar traits like age, web surfing history, online purchases, content sharing on social media marketing, medical content consumed, etc.

Let us conjure up a probable scenario for the hospital that is about 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 contact numbers of patients undergoing care under endocrinologist would turn into 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 be delivered to prospective patient’s Gmail inbox, the RLSA campaign would make sure that message is rendered on user’s SERPs wherever they search online.

The good thing of programmatic advertising is that 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 with their early 40s residing in North Bangalore for promoting cancers of the breast screening. Programmatic-method of carrying this out is deliver your message to the in-market audience directly by capturing basic patient’s intent and then tracking their online behavior. For example, say 45-years old women who visited your Oncology webpage which is searching information online on “protection against breast cancer”.

Programmatic Buying allows you to meet the needs of your particular audience who seems to be on the far end of buyer’s journey and possesses an increased propensity of getting in case your message touches their cord. Programmatic Buying enables you to track investment or quite simply, makes returns attributable. Advertising has turned 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 incorporates its share of challenges and unethical practices that digital marketers must stand guard against. Such bad practices permeate throughout the Programmatic ecosystem and therefore are omnipresent across industries including healthcare.

Inside a highly regulated healthcare sector, these challenges are more evident. So i want to address some burning issues plaguing the Programmatic Buying in healthcare

1) Restrictions on retargeting: Hospital industry continues to be slow to evolve programmatic buying because medical ethics restrict any form of advertising to patients, even the audience retargeting using cookies

2) Ad misplacement: Ad placement while trying to reach a prospect, say a doctor in the non-clinical environment such as a Game Center or Expedia Travel site could possibly dilute importance of brand name and message

3) Control: As previously mentioned, Demand Side Platforms are aggregators of inventory and then make them readily available for Advertisers. However, in medical industry, hardly any reputed medical publishers like PubMed, WebMD, The Lancet, NEJM etc. may renounce power over their inventory to permit open ad ecosystem like Programmatic take over. That is why most medical publishers still prefer reserved, non-auction based on programmatic buying like either Programmatic Direct.

4) Higher costs: As a result 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 they may be 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 is generally a leftover, remnant inventory. This may not be entirely untrue in healthcare either. Media space buying in healthcare predominantly is through either direct buyout involving humans or direct buyout involving automation, referred to as Programmatic Direct. Hence, what is left can be a less coveted, tier-2 inventory. Although buying this inventory could help derive engagement at much 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 emerged. In fact we already have some media buying platforms in healthcare like MM&M, Compas etc. that allow automated buying to healthcare publishers. However, considering that transparency and neutrality of open buying platform would be compromised by using these agencies, there is little incentive for advertisers to work alongside such private ad exchanges. Besides, scale and inventory available with such private exchanges is likewise limited compared to full-service media agencies.

Aside these challenges that happen to be specific to healthcare industry, Programmatic Buying has some inherent conditions that are pervasive across industries. Such as some outlined below:

8) Non-human traffic: Non-human traffic or maybe the NHT as it is commonly referred in Programmatic world is regarded as the 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 these are piece of malware that inflates the performance matrices by masquerading as organic activity. Common instances of this can be paid ‘likes’ or ‘ 1s’ on social media marketing.

9) Viewability: Viewability is the prospect of an advertisement to be seen. Many times a big proportion of impressions that advertisers pay for goes unseen either due to below-the-fold 60dextpky or user might scroll a page too quickly to find out the ad.

Ad blocking: Today’s sophisticated programs allow users to get rid of advertising while browsing the web or using apps. Most publishers and professional bloggers depend upon advertising since the main way to obtain their revenue. Together with ad blocking set up, a blogger would lose a reason to make free-to-consume content unless the alternate stream of revenue is offered directly to them. Likewise, publisher websites get bored since their revenue model based upon content-for-advertising is compromised

To conclude:

Programmatic buying has become a prominent inclusion in marketer’s quiver since last decade. Medical industry has become slow to wake up to the phenomenon because of industry-specific challenges. However, adoption of information, involvement of social media marketing companies and proliferation of healthcare specific ad networks to manage automated buying in healthcare would only mitigate these challenges.

The plastic surgery marketing including hospitals and pharmaceutical companies would be wise to consider programmatic buying as part of a core marketing plan and move from broad, segment-based marketing to specific fine-grained messages crafted to attract, nurture and convert potential prospects or patients.

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