The Shift To Programmatic CTV: Why Healthcare Marketers Need To Go All-In To Grow 


With little to do during lockdowns, millions worldwide spent the majority of 2020 streaming, toggling between Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and a host of new services like Disney+ and Peacock TV, to name just a few. This fueled a wave of new connected TV (CTV) consumption, which was already growing in popularity pre-pandemic but has since emerged as a go-to channel for marketers, given that CTV ad spending was expected to increase to $6.69 billion, according to SpotX.

Advertisers’ excitement for CTV is self-explanatory: they are following consumers, who are increasingly canceling their cable subscriptions and spending more time streaming their content. But more than that, CTV represents an incredible opportunity for healthcare marketers working to modernize their ad programs. CTV offers them the opportunity to increase the reach of their linear TV buys and measure their campaign performance faster and more accurately.

The Benefits of CTV Compared To Traditional Approaches

Historically, linear TV has been the go-to channel for pharma marketers to reach patients. In fact, according to StatistaOpens a new window , linear TV has accounted for 75% or more of advertising budgets for healthcare marketers. Still, pharma marketers are increasingly looking toward CTV for reaching the right healthcare providers (HCPs) and patient audiences.

CTV’s benefits include, but are not limited to, more precise, programmatic targeting to patient audiences and providers; the ability to optimize campaigns in-flight; and the accurate, actionable and timely measurement necessary in the world of consistently evolving healthcare data. With linear TV, it can be challenging to tie specific ad campaigns to patient outcomes, such as lift or increases in the number of prescriptions filled following a campaign. As a result, programmatic CTV has presented itself as an efficient option for pharma marketers looking to reach their target audiences on these platforms.

Reaching the Right Audiences on CTV

DeepIntent recently surveyed patients to understand their feelings toward pharmaceutical ads better. The study learned that direct-to-consumer advertising could spur the patient research needed to forge stronger connections with their provider, an important factor in driving new prescription starts and increased adherence to prescribed treatments. In fact, the most common action patients report taking after seeing a pharmaceutical ad is doing their own research (55%), which includes speaking to people currently taking the drug. Additionally, 36% say that pharma ads make them feel more informed when discussing treatment options with their doctor.

The superior data-driven targeting capabilities of CTV make gleaning these insights much more straightforward for marketers. Though privacy regulations like HIPAA make messaging patients with relevant advertising a challenge in the healthcare space, anonymized data and sophisticated targeting solutions allow healthcare marketers to tailor their CTV campaigns and reach audiences more efficiently, and patients would be receptive to that. An earlier DeepIntent survey showed patients are more likely to accept treatment recommendations for something they recognize from advertising and found that just 35% feel the pharmaceutical ads they see are relevant to themOpens a new window . When targeted campaigns reach the right audiences, the goal of achieving positive outcomes on both the HCP and patient fronts becomes more attainable. 

The Role of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Designing and Executing Effective Campaigns

There are countless parameters for all digital media campaigns, CTV included, such as audience targeting and measurement methods. Optimization at the most granular level of a campaign requires real-time analysis and decisioning that takes millions of inputs and factors into account. While impossible for a human to sort through this information, AI conducts these tasks with ease. 

AI-driven machine learning algorithms automate real-time decisioning, which accelerates performance and reduces costs. Algorithmic optimizations happen weeks earlier than manual optimizations and continue throughout the duration of the campaign flight. Even more beneficial, the algorithms are continuously learning and self-improving based on new data, campaign performance, and ongoing machine learning, resulting in better, faster, smarter campaigns. 

It’s important that healthcare marketers utilize these tools to leverage the most comprehensive real-world clinical data to build their audiences, all in a privacy-compliant and ethical way. 

What’s Next for CTV

During the first half of 2021, there has been more investment in digital health than in all of 2020. This represents the enormous value that marketers are realizing when it comes to healthcare data. Further, the ability of programmatic CTV is empowering them to reach more clinically-relevant HCP and patient audiences, optimize toward the metrics that matter and gain actionable and timely insights to inform future media investment. 

As we look toward 2022 and beyond, the data indicates that CTV will continue to increase in popularity and importance for marketers, and healthcare is quickly solidifying its position as the most important avenue for brands to leave meaningful impressions with patients and providers alike. 

As a healthcare marketer, how are you leveraging programmatic CTV? Let us know on FacebookOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , and LinkedInOpens a new window .