Television continues to be a dominating force for healthcare and pharmaceutical advertising. But while linear TV is the number one way for advertisers to reach audiences at scale, it lacks broad demo-based spot buying and offers few ways to measure campaign impact.
Simultaneously, viewership is changing. Older audiences are now embracing connected TV (CTV), ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD), and other over-the-top (OTT) options. Also, millennial cord-cutters viewing content on these platforms will increasingly become pharma consumers as they age. With cost-effective, precise, and transparent spot buys, marketers need to change their television advertising approach to gain a competitive advantage.
The Current Landscape
COVID-19 accelerated a shift in television consumption as consumers watched more shows while stuck at home. This massive viewing spike has held steady for months. However, only 7% of U.S. agency and marketing professionals maintained regular ad spending for linear broadcast and cable TV spots during the pandemic. The affected companies need to reallocate budgets thoughtfully as they will not grow their brands successfully unless they plan.
Healthcare marketers specifically should add technologies like CTV and AVOD to their advertising mix. CTV allows budget-conscious consumers to access free, ad-supported channels without a cable subscription. Contextual CTV campaigns offer improved performance, audience targeting, transparency, and visibility because buyers and sellers can vet inventory more closely using real-time attribution.
AVOD, by contrast, is like broadcast television because consumers need to watch commercials. But revenue for this free service rose 31% year-over-year once COVID hit, proving viewers will sit through ads if services cost less (or nothing). Adoption is snowballing, especially since many AVOD services boast libraries that rival subscription platforms.
Pharma brands have historically shied away from these technologies, but now is the time to capitalize on the opportunities they offer. By leveraging intelligent measurement strategies, brands (and the agencies representing them) can understand viewers in new ways, attract new audiences, and improve product awareness and understanding.
Measure Twice, Cut Once
In the past, many ad agencies believed pharma was not ready for primetime, so they did not shift resources to CTV or AVOD because they thought cable sufficed. However, these options offer accurate and consistent ways to measure advertising investment returns. Targeting is also more robust because marketers can analyze metadata, geographic information, and other factors to determine how their ads track with targeted households or adjust ads to be more effective.
One area that needs a long-awaited upgrade is measurement. Traditionally, pharma buyers and planners identified viewers by age or gender and evaluated programs through Nielsen ratings. They considered CTV and AVOD unproven even to consider.
But keeping measurement workflows siloed is like using diaries to track viewership (as Nielsen did in the 1950s). Customers recorded their viewing habits using paper and pencil, and the company compiled statistical models approximating the number of viewers. That approach doesn’t make sense in a digital world with more viewing options than ever.
TV ad buying and measurement now need to be as precise as digital, so healthcare marketers must adopt modern options more rapidly as part of their ad buys. CTV and AVOD are more cost-effective, with lower base rates. They allow pharma brands to avoid fraud, invalid traffic, or bad spending on open exchanges while remaining compliant with privacy laws. By accessing detailed and actionable insights, companies can also manage how often they run spots to ensure they do not over-target or waste money.
Making ad buys more cost-effective and transparent allows brands to measure outcomes more consistently. They can go beyond mere exposures, connecting numbers to real-world first-party data. This approach gives them valuable insights into clinical behaviors employing unified metrics to strengthen campaigns.
As TV continues to dominate in all its forms, pharma marketers need to take advantage of the advanced and connected tools at their disposal. By modernizing approaches and measuring more consistently, campaigns will deliver more impact with better performance.
DeepIntent is a leading healthcare marketing platform company purpose-built to influence positive health outcomes, connecting healthcare companies with patients and providers across every screen through unique data, premium media partnerships, and custom integrations.
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Chief Strategy Officer, DeepIntent