Achieving privacy-first personalization in pharmaceutical marketing through contextual advertising

August 29, 2023

In an evolving landscape where signal loss persists and privacy regulations tighten, the significance of contextual information transcends mere targeting strategy.

Achieving privacy-first personalization in pharmaceutical marketing through contextual advertising

In the pharmaceutical sector, digital ad spending is projected to reach $20 billion by 2024. That investment underscores just how much is at stake: in an industry where winning a single share point for an important pharmaceutical can be worth tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars, advertising matters.

But as McKinsey recently observed, “Next-level healthcare marketing is built on a robust, integrated technology stack—and reaching full maturity in marketing-technology capabilities is not a short-term undertaking. No marketing function operates with an unlimited budget, meaning the marketing team will need to prioritize use cases that can build the department’s muscle and momentum.”

That’s why savvy pharmaceutical marketers have gravitated to contextual advertising and the potential of combining audiences with context building as powerful tools. Many digital signals are no longer available for health-related targeting that delivers personalized messages.

Misconception of Contextual Targeting

Contextual targeting is no longer just scraping the internet for information and matching an ad to an obvious piece of content. For example, an ad for a new type of bicycle next to an article about cycling through the mountains for France.

The combination of artificial intelligence and machine learning allows advertisers to go beyond just relevant topics to include meaning and relevance to ensure that the right message reaches the right audiences without the use of audience data that may have PII or rely on cookies.

It also allows marketers to use their first-party data in new and creative ways. Market research doesn’t just inform creative attributes, it can now inform where to reach specific audiences.

In fact, a neuroscience study conducted by Condé Nast revealed that pharmaceutical ads displayed within lifestyle content generated emotional responses that were 47% more intense compared to the same ads seen on medical websites.

Contextual Works Across Multichannel Marketing

Now more than ever, Pharmaceutical companies recognize the significance of diversifying  targeting strategies to effectively reach their intended audience. Contextual advertising offers an opportunity to rethink how and where they engage with consumers in the moments that matter.  This strategic approach optimizes the reach and impact of advertising campaigns.

Social media, websites, and mobile applications provide pharmaceutical companies with the means to connect with their target audiences in environments that best suit their preferences. Additionally, these digital platforms allow pharmaceutical companies to gather invaluable insights for future campaigns.

By utilizing multiple channels, pharmaceutical companies can establish connections with healthcare professionals and consumers in their everyday lives. This approach proves particularly advantageous for individuals living with specific chronic conditions, as relevant advertisements integrated into their digital experiences can feel more organic compared to encountering ads solely when seeking information about a particular condition or medical treatment. By understanding the plight of the patient - based on the content they consume - it’s possible to support them with educational messaging while still respecting their privacy.

Semantic Audiences Present a Powerful Tool

Contextual targeting presents a powerful tool for pharmaceutical marketers.

This can be seen effectively in a recent campaign Semasio recently conducted with a medical treatment company. With strict data and compliance regulations, this Company opted for contextual targeting as part of its digital campaign. First, they conducted market research to understand digital signals from their patients – what they searched for, browsing, and purchasing behaviors.

This information was taken to build semantic audiences and ads were served on digital properties that matched these online behaviors.  The result was a 55-75% lift in performance compared to other tactics.  (LINK TO CASE STUDY)

Preserving Privacy, Enhancing Impact

Being one of the most heavily regulated industries, healthcare and pharma place utmost importance on privacy and data protection. The definition of what constitutes "sensitive data" is rapidly evolving and the trend appears to be leaning toward more restrictive legislation. In this regard, contextual relevance emerges as a potent tool to ensure advertising remains pertinent but with less risk.

Unlike other advertising methods that may necessitate access to health or sensitive data that could potentially be linked to personal information, contextual relevance embraces a privacy-first approach. It allows healthcare organizations to deliver targeted messages and advertisements without compromising individual privacy. By focusing on the context in which ads are displayed, rather than relying on personal data, healthcare advertisers can strike a delicate balance between reaching the desired audience and adhering to strict privacy regulations. This approach not only mitigates potential risks associated with data breaches or unauthorized use but also fosters trust between healthcare providers and their patients or customers.

The Future of Contextual

In an evolving landscape where signal loss persists and privacy regulations tighten, the significance of contextual information transcends mere targeting strategy. It now holds the potential to provide profound insights about customers, shedding light on their interests, passions, and online activities that extend beyond their diagnosis or medical condition.

Gone are the days when a target audience was solely defined as individuals living with diabetes, requiring messages exclusively within the realm of health-related digital platforms. Today, that audience may encompass young parents seeking information, healthy-cooking fanatics, or avid car enthusiasts.

By leveraging context to engage with the complete patient experience, rather than focusing solely on their medical condition, pharmaceutical marketers have the opportunity to surpass expectations and deliver exceptional results.

Key Takeaways

  • Digital ad spending in the pharmaceutical sector is projected to reach $20 billion by 2024, highlighting the significance of advertising in the industry.
  • Contextual advertising and semantic audience building are powerful tools for pharmaceutical marketers to deliver personalized messages to specific audiences, including healthcare providers.
  • Contextual targeting goes beyond matching ads to relevant topics by leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to ensure the right message reaches the right audience.
  • Neuroscience studies indicate that pharmaceutical ads displayed within lifestyle content generate more intense emotional responses compared to the same ads seen on medical websites.
  • Contextual advertising offers a multichannel marketing approach, allowing pharmaceutical companies to engage with healthcare professionals and consumers through diverse channels while maintaining privacy compliance.
  • Pharmaceutical companies can gather valuable insights for future campaigns by utilizing digital platforms such as social media, websites, and mobile applications.
  • Semantic audiences, created through market research and analysis of digital signals, offer a powerful tool for pharmaceutical marketers, resulting in significant performance improvement.
  • Contextual relevance in advertising ensures both relevance and compliance with healthcare industry regulations, protecting individual privacy and fostering trust.
  • Contextual advertising provides insights beyond patients' diagnoses or disease states, allowing pharmaceutical marketers to reach the whole patient and outperform traditional targeting strategies.
  • As privacy laws continue to evolve and signal loss becomes more prevalent, contextual advertising will become even more valuable in delivering insights and understanding patients' passions and web activities.

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