Jan 03, 2024



Four Audience Targeting Strategies to Maximize Your Pharma Marketing Impact

Smart audience targeting strategies can help pharma marketers connect with the right patients at the right time, but restrictions and growing concerns around privacy complicate these efforts. Learn how to leverage contextual targeting and reach consumers with less compliance risk.

With 72% of patients reading online reviews before booking an appointment with a new doctor and over 50% reporting that they are researching health conditions online more now than before the pandemic, a well-placed ad can point consumers to your brand and potential treatments they can discuss with their care team. As such, timing and relevance are everything. Giving patients the confidence and information they need to schedule their next appointment can mean the difference between life-changing care and poor health outcomes that could have been more manageable with early detection.

In 2022, pharma marketing overtook the tech industry to become the second largest spending category after consumer packaged goods—holding 14% of the U.S. market share. However, while regulations around pharmaceutical advertising are constantly shifting, they remain restrictive, especially around privacy and security. These concerns further complicate matters for pharma marketers, as traditional tracking methods like cookies or pixels can feel intrusive when consumers are followed by ads reminding them of their condition, even on unrelated websites. 

So, how can pharma marketers reach patients without compromising on compliance? We’re sharing four powerful audience-targeting strategies that can maximize campaign effectiveness.

1. Leverage the Power of Social Media 

Did you know that 54% of the global population visits a social media platform daily? This means you can likely find members of your target audience on at least one of these channels at any given time. While posting treatment information on social media is one way to generate interest, it may not be the most effective way to attract loyal consumers. Instead, consider integrating more personable outreach tactics, such as:

  • Influencer Partnerships: Patient influencers are often willing to share their health journeys to help bring condition awareness to other patients and motivate them to seek care. Collaborating with these influencers to encourage others to share positive experiences through user-generated content can significantly enhance brand credibility and foster a valued sense of community.
  • Patient-Generated Content: Creating a safe space for patients to share their healthcare journeys through testimonials, blogs, and social media posts not only helps build meaningful connections with your brand but can also further amplify patient engagement and education, thus positioning your brand as a trusted resource.

However, there are some limitations to note. For instance, the FDA recommends that all pharma companies disclose the risks and benefits of using a particular treatment on all posts, but depending on the platform used, there may not be enough space to do so. If this is the case, it’s recommended to avoid posting altogether.

In addition, the Federal Trade Commission has established extensive guidelines for publishing pharma-related social media content, so review all necessary restrictions before posting any form of content online.

2. Craft Engaging Video Content 

In 2022, 82% of online traffic was generated by online video viewership, so it’s no surprise that both vertical and video spending in pharma are expected to increase by 11% and 19% year-over-year, respectively. Video ads combine two things that attract users’ attention—motion and sound, both of which play an essential role in delivering effective messages and driving higher levels of engagement, as confirmed by recent studies:

  • 89% of consumers have purchased a product or service after watching an ad video, and even if they don’t immediately act, the video’s initial impression lasts. 
  • Messages conveyed through video see a 95% retention rate, compared to only 10% with text-based content.
  • ClearPivot, a digital marketing agency, found that video ads get 20% to 30% more clicks for their clients than image ads.
  • Smaato found that the average CTR of video ads in mobile apps is 7.5 times higher than display ads. 

From fostering an emotional connection with prospective patients to educating consumers on the details of your medication, videos offer a clear picture of what your brand can offer. But to enjoy its full benefits, you need to make sure you’re reaching the right audiences:

  • Narrow your reach to target low-funnel consumers. You need to find and advertise to qualified patients close to making an appointment with a doctor to have an impact. Maximize the effectiveness of your ads by partnering with a third-party site like healthgrades.com, where 67% of consumers who visit profile pages book an appointment within a week of visiting the site.
  • Focus on contextual placement. When you place your ads adjacent to relevant condition and category content, you ensure your message reaches prospects when they’re on the cusp of making a health-related decision.

Bottom line: Effective video marketing can help pharma marketers spread brand awareness, heighten conversion rates, and increase consumer interactions. However, the timing, context, and placement of videos are just as important as the content itself.

3. Reach Targeted Audiences With CTV Advertising

With 87 million households turning to streaming services and on-demand content, make space for connected TV (CTV) advertising in your audience targeting toolbox. In recent years, CTV has become increasingly valuable for marketers looking to reach consumers in a fragmented media landscape, since it offers deeper metrics insight and greater control over who sees which ads and how often. 

The move to CTV advertising is already making a difference:

  • 23% of CTV viewers said they’d made a purchase after seeing an ad versus 12% of linear viewers.
  • 39% of marketers reported seeing an increase in returns on ad spend after switching to CTV. 

CTV advertising solutions, such as Healthgrades’ PatienTarget CTV product, make it easier for marketers to reach a highly targeted audience based on demographics, interests, and behaviors. These insights help tailor campaigns to specific medical conditions, age groups, and other criteria, thus delivering personalized messages to help educate and empower a wider audience about health concerns and treatment options—no matter what or where they’re watching.

4. Make the Most of Digital Display Advertising

CTV advertising falls within the realm of digital display advertising, but the latter holds unique advantages, as it spans a wide range of options in terms of shapes, sizes, and formats– such as banner ads, full-screen interstitial ads, native video, and rich media – and can be placed on almost any website, increasing the chances of reaching relevant audiences. It should also be noted that while display ads typically have a lower click-through rate, the cost per click is lower. 

Not sure where to begin with digital display advertising? Let’s circle back to Healthgrades’ PatienTarget, which aligns more with a programmatic buy and increases scale by identifying eligible patients who have previously engaged with a specialist on Healthgrades. Predictive modeling then expands your reach to individuals most inclined to treat your target condition in the near future. With on-site ad buys, your brand can also sponsor existing Healthgrades editorial features to promote awareness of your target condition. 

Reach Your Audience Targeting Goals with Healthgrades  

Half of all Americans who see a doctor this year will visit Healthgrades at some point in their healthcare journey1. By partnering with Healthgrades, you can engage the largest population of commercially-insured, qualified patients searching for care online when they’re ready to take action. 

Connect with low-funnel consumers through medically-reviewed editorial content in our PatientConnect Hubs—our onsite patient resource center for treatment-oriented content and educational tools—as they engage with highly targeted condition and treatment-related information. Embedded appointment guides help patients confidently discuss possible treatment options, including your brand, with their doctors.

Our Guided Physician Search (GPS), a doctor directory tool, is integrated into every PatientConnect Hub so consumers can schedule their appointments when your brand is top of mind. This doctor directory can be fully incorporated into your brand.com to close the loop for customers interested in your brand. 

With our new PatienTarget TV offering, your brand can also reach your target audience across major television networks and platforms—at the key moment between appointing and the actual appointment. With insights from Healthgrades intelligence, you can target qualified patients who visited a relevant specialist’s profile on healthgrades.com. Deploy your TV ad across more than 100 channels and numerous CTV device types with accuracy and scale, and integrate QR code calls-to-action in your CTV ads that allow viewers to take immediate action. Don’t miss out on the power of CTV—embrace it for extended brand exposure.

Get in touch to discover how we can help your brand broaden its reach without sacrificing scale and efficiency.

Healthgrades Site Study, 2022.