The HCP Marketing Pro’s Guide to Digital Healthcare Advertising

The HCP Marketing Pro’s Guide to Digital Healthcare Advertising

Table of Contents

Ad budgets, TV commercials, newspaper ads, and spiffed-up sales reps. When you hear the term “HCP marketing and advertising” these may be some of the first things that come to mind. However, with the healthcare industry in the midst of a radical transformation, HCP marketing professionals need to find new ways to engage healthcare providers and perfect their digital healthcare advertising.

In this guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about HCP advertising, from the smartest tactics to the trends shaping the industry.

HCP Meaning: What Is an HCP in Healthcare?

HCP stands for “health care professional,” and it refers to all persons who work in a healthcare setting, such as a hospital, medical office, or ambulatory surgical center. Some examples of HCPs include doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, and physical therapists.

From a healthcare advertising perspective, the term “HCP” primarily refers to physicians, but it can also be used to mean RNs, pharmacists, physician assistants, hospital executives, and other healthcare workers.

What Is HCP Advertising & How Does It Differ From HCP Marketing?

HCP advertising is a subset of HCP Marketing, and it involves a brand using paid channels to get its message in front of its target market, i.e., healthcare professionals. HCP marketing, on the other hand, is much broader, and it refers to a vast range of efforts — paid and unpaid — designed to bring a service or product to market. For example, HCP marketing often involves market research and paid advertising to healthcare professionals.

What HCP Marketing Pros Need to Know About HCP Targeting

What Is HCP Targeting?

HCP targeting is an advertising tactic that lets you segment HCPs and deliver ads to them based on specific attributes, such as location or medical specialty. For example, if you’re promoting a spirometer, you likely want to target pulmonologists.

HCP Targeting vs. NPI Targeting: What’s the Difference?

While “HCP targeting” and “NPI targeting” are often used interchangeably, there are subtle differences between the two terms. The former may refer to targeting any HCP — including all MDs, NPPAs, and other healthcare industry professionals — while the latter refers to targeting only HCPs with an NPI, a unique, 10-digit identification number that’s issued by the federal government to healthcare providers.

NPI targeting lets advertisers reach HCPs on a 1:1 basis and target by American Medical Association (AMA)-recognized medical specialty, subspecialties, secondary or tertiary specialties, and more. Some of the benefits of NPI targeting include:

  • Accurate Campaign Reporting: An NPI number is the ultimate identifier and using it for targeting will enable you to know which HCPs actually engaged with your ads. Plus, by hyper-targeting, you’ll maximize your spend and improve performance.
  • Smarter Optimizations: With NPI targeting, there’s no guessing when it comes to performance. You know exactly which HCPs are engaging and when, so you can make optimizations accordingly. Are interventional cardiologists converting more than others? Allocate more budget to them.
  • Staying Power: NPI targeting isn’t just useful now; it’s well-positioned to succeed as the healthcare industry evolves. HCPs are utilizing more digital channels than ever — video, social, apps, and more — and NPI targeting lets you follow HCPs across all of these digital touchpoints.

Why Is HCP Segmentation Important?

Here’s why healthcare marketing professionals should segment their campaigns by HCPs:

  • Competition: Digital ad spend among healthcare brands is expected to surpass $11B by the end of 2021. What does this mean for you? Programmatic advertising works, but the competition to reach HCPs is also fierce. Why is this a good thing? Because your competitors likely use less precise HCP and doctor segmentation, they won’t be able to reach the engagement levels that you can deliver for them with HCP and physician targeting.
  • Price: High demand for ads (without an increase in supply) leads to higher prices. For example, CPMs rose by 55.6% on Facebook between January 2020 and April 2021. In today’s climate, it’s not affordable or smart to launch campaigns aimed at millions of healthcare providers. HCP targeting allows you to reach a smaller, more precise audience, lowering costs without sacrificing performance.
  • Privacy: Programmatic advertising is shifting due to privacy concerns. Some technologies, like third-party cookies, are going away, and healthcare marketers need privacy-first ways to target healthcare providers. HCP targeting does just that.

How Can HCP Targeting Improve Engagement?

HCP marketers that invest in programmatic have relied on performance metrics, such as CPM, impressions, and reach. These metrics will continue to matter, but you’ll need to generate engagement metrics, like clicks, to keep your strategy successful. HCP targeting is designed to do that, letting you segment by specialty, target specific HCPs, and deliver ads that are relevant to their unique needs. Here are some examples of how this can be done:

  • Creative & Copy: You can personalize your creatives based on your target HCPs’ preferences and interests. For example, you can show an ad with a new cancer drug to an oncologist or a device that treats urinary incontinence to a urologist. The copy can also be written to resonate with your HCP target market.
  • Digital Devices: Different generations of HCPs (millennials vs. baby boomers) may use different devices. HCP targeting lets you account for this. If you’re looking to reach baby boomer podiatrists, you can adjust your spend to target certain devices, such as desktop, that this demographic uses.
  • Digital Channels: Understanding your target audience means you can focus your spend on the sites they’re most likely to spend time on. An internal study we conducted found that radiologists and cardiologists preferred News and Business content by 672% (which helped us see a 55% increase in CTRs on one campaign).

What Are the Best Healthcare Advertising Tactics & Channels Within HCP Digital Marketing?

HCP Advertising Tactic #1: Mobile & In-App Advertising

Advertisers are projected to spend more than $402B in 2024. This is an important trend for healthcare marketers, especially since 4 in 5 HCPs use a smartphone on a daily basis. Here’s why mobile and in-app advertising is more important than ever for brands looking to reach HCPs:

  • Increased Use Among HCPs: A common misconception among HCP marketing professionals is that healthcare providers are too busy to use smartphones during the workday. In fact, HCPs not only use their mobile devices during downtime, but they’ve also incorporated it into their practice, utilizing it to communicate with colleagues and access test results and patient data.
  • Higher CTRs: Studies have shown that mobile app ads generate a 100% increase in CTRs over desktop. In other words, targeting HCPs with relevant mobile content will help increase HCP digital engagement.
  • Lifespan: Cookies on desktop generally only have a lifespan of around 14-21 days, while device IDs on mobile remain consistent indefinitely unless a user does a device ID reset (which rarely happens). This makes it easier to target HCPs and track your advertising over time.

Pro Tip: Figure out the key topics HCPs value most, including medical news, educational opportunities, and patient education info. You can use these to identify where HCP audiences are spending time on apps and mobile, find the device IDs, and then deliver your ads.

HCP Advertising Tactic #2: Video Advertising

Digital video advertising, which reaches over 80% of the U.S. population, lets you promote your brand messaging before, during, and after video content on websites. By 2025, mobile video advertising spend is projected to reach $53.9 billion, a 135% increase from 2020. Here’s why this tactic is taking off:

  • Increased Engagement: Video ads to HCPs naturally lead to engagement. In fact, consumers are 27X more likely to click on video ads than other formats. Why? Video ads appeal to multiple senses, are more shareable, and let you deliver your narrative in a way that’s easy to consume.
  • Higher CTRs: Video ads don’t just attract more attention; they garner more clicks from HCPs. According to Smaato, the CTRs for video ads on mobile are 7.5 times higher than those for display ads. Why? Because video ads let you tell a better story than display ads.
  • Diverse Inventory: There are many types of video inventory, allowing you to pick ones that match your campaign goals. For example, vertical video gives mobile users an ideal ad experience, especially since 94% of screen time is spent in the vertical position. Outstream video ads, which are served to users as they scroll on a page, allow your brand to be associated with the content HCPs are viewing.

Pro Tip: Keep your video healthcare ads short and sweet — anything more than 15 seconds is too long. That said, use those 15 seconds to capture attention quickly. What do you want the takeaway to be for HCPs? Put it up front. Assume they’ll only see the first few seconds of the ad.

HCP Advertising Tactic #3: Native Advertising

Native advertising is an innovative way for HCP marketers to promote their products and services to healthcare providers without being intrusive. These ads utilize relevant content and a subtle branded element that matches the function and feel of the content alongside them. Their effectiveness is tried-and-true — consumers look at native ads 53% more than display ads. Here’s why they’re so powerful:

  • Natural: Native advertising naturally entices healthcare providers to engage with an ad, because they won’t immediately see it as one. Rather, they’ll view it as a progression in learning about your healthcare product or service.
  • Privacy: With GDPR and other similar regulations, it’s clear that online users are serious about privacy and how they’re engaged with digital advertising in healthcare. It’s on HCP marketers to provide more thoughtful, less intrusive ad experiences that meet users’ expectations. Native healthcare advertising does just that.
  • The Future: Native advertising will be able to easily evolve with the changing programmatic ecosystem — namely, broadening its capabilities to work in immersive digital environments, such as augmented reality, and newer channels, like voice and audio advertising.

Pro Tip: Make sure your native ads deliver real value to HCPs; take a topic you know your target audience is interested in and utilize it to show how your product or service can benefit them.

HCP Advertising Tactic #4: Contextual Advertising

Contextual advertising, the practice of serving ads on webpages based on those pages’ content, is becoming increasingly popular among marketing professionals, including healthcare advertisers. In fact, the contextual advertising market worldwide is expected to grow by $279.2 billion over the next few years. Here’s why you should incorporate this advertising technique into your healthcare marketing strategy:

  • It Just Works: One study found that contextually relevant ads generated 2.2 times better ad recall and 43% more neural engagement. When paired with a very specific keyword strategy, it can also boost brand awareness by up to 93%. This checks out given that these ads revolve around data tied directly to the page’s content. For example, a medical device brand looking to promote an implantable cardiac loop recorder can target keywords cardiologists search for, like “cardiac device” or “cardiovascular system disorder.”
  • Lower Costs: Traditionally, HCP marketers have looked to endemic sites, like popular medical journals, because it was the only way to reach their goals. The problem? The price. Their popularity makes advertising on them more expensive. Contextual advertising lets you advertise on non-endemic sites, which have less competition. The result? More cost-efficient campaigns.
  • Improved Brand Safety: Every HCP marketer wants their ads associated with sites that align with their values and brand. After all, who would want to find their inventory next to hate speech or conspiracy theories? With contextual advertising, you can tell the media platform what types of keywords and content you want your ads associated with and not associated with.

HCP Advertising Tactic #5: Point-of-Care Advertising

Traditionally, point-of-care advertising has been associated with those pamphlets in waiting rooms at physicians’ offices. Its purpose has been to get patients to consider a healthcare product or service before seeing their doctor. However, point-of-care is no longer confined to patient advertising. It’s now one of the hottest ways for HCP marketing pros to engage healthcare providers at work across EHRs, apps, telehealth platforms, and social media. Not convinced? Here’s why point-of-care advertising is on the rise:

  • Apps & Electronic Health Records (EHRs) Are the New Normal: EHRs are now the main way HCPs view patient data. Doctors spend an average of 16 minutes and 14 seconds per patient using EHRs. HCPs are also using non-health-related mobile apps during their free time at work, like The Weather App and Sudoku.
  • Telehealth Is Gaining Momentum: According to a study from late 2020, telehealth visits increased by 50% during the COVID-19 pandemic. On top of that, 76% of U.S. hospitals are using video to connect with patients and practitioners at a distance. Point-of-care advertising lets you take advantage of this emerging trend.
  • Social Media Is Becoming More Widespread Among HCPs: Social media isn’t something HCPs only use during their free time. In fact, 65% of doctors use it for professional purposes, like communicating with colleagues and crowdsourcing ideas from the medical community. The message is clear: HCPs utilize this technology at work, giving you the chance to reach them while they’re in “work mode” and more likely to respond well to medical-related content.

Pro Tip: Follow a step-by-step process to implement point-of-care advertising. 1) Create a target list. 2) Decide on a targeting radius. 3) Use NPI-level targeting and reporting.

HCP Advertising Tactic #6: DOOH Advertising

Digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising is a modern take on out-of-home (OOH) advertising, i.e., ads targeted to HCPs in public spaces, like bus stop ads or public transit placements. It’s basically a billboard that runs on programmatic technology. For example, you might promote a medical device on hospital elevator screens when physicians are changing shifts. Here’s why DOOH is worth every HCP marketing pro’s attention:

  • Future-Proof: Healthcare digital advertising is shifting. The downfall of third-party cookies and the rise of ad blockers are forcing marketers to find new ways to engage HCPs. DOOH advertising is resilient to both of these trends, as it relies on location-based targeting. You can trust that HCPs will see your ads.
  • Better Performance: Digital advertising has long been the best way to reach HCPs in and out of work. And that won’t change. But DOOH is worth adding into the mix with existing programmatic strategies. Not convinced? Pairing these types of ads alongside other digital channels can increase your reach by 100%.
  • Creativity: The rise of digital advertising in healthcare has meant that advertisers are flooding the internet with ads — many of them looking the same. When an ad doesn’t impress HCPs, performance tanks and so does cost-efficiency. DOOH advertising gives you a chance to think outside of the box. For example, one laser eye surgery brand launched elevator screen ads that dynamically shifted messaging based on the rider’s eyewear. Talk about cool.

HCP Advertising Tactic #7: Retargeting

Retargeting is an advertising tactic that lets you deliver personalized healthcare ads to HCPs who’ve visited your website in the past. It allows you to continue the conversation with healthcare providers who’ve already shown interest in your brand. Here’s why this tactic is more important than ever:

  • Reduces Spend: Retargeting is extremely cost-efficient. In fact, it can lower your cost per acquisition (CPA) by as much as 44%. Why is this? Because you’re only delivering ads to HCPs who’ve already shown interest in your product or service, you won’t be allocating any spend to reach people who aren’t ready to convert.
  • Drives Conversions: When executed effectively, a retargeting strategy will increase conversions significantly. In fact, visitors to your site are 70% more likely to convert. With retargeting, you can continue the conversation with people who are lower in the funnel; one more touchpoint with your brand may be all they need to sign on the bottom line. Not convinced? Here’s how we used retargeting to help an Rx drug increase conversions by 295%.
  • HCPs Appreciate Them: Overall, people have more positive feelings toward retargeting than negative ones. In fact, 75% of consumers notice these types of ads and 25% even enjoy them. Why? It’s natural to respond favorably to something you’re already interested in.

HCP Advertising Tactic #8: Geofencing

Healthcare geofencing lets you serve location-based ads to HCPs. These types of campaigns run off of programmatic technology that leverages GPS signals from providers’ devices, delivering ads based on that data. Here’s why advertising within hospitals and other healthcare settings is worth investing in:

  • Engage HCPs at High-Intent Moments: Unless your primary goal is brand awareness, you likely have lower-funnel goals you want to meet, such as script lift. To make this happen, you need to serve ads to HCPs when they’re in a medical mindset. Geofencing campaigns enable you to reach healthcare professionals in the workplace, whether they’re at medical offices, hospitals, or conferences.
  • Save Money: Healthcare ad spending is reaching an all-time high. In fact, ad spending between 2011 and 2021 is estimated to increase by over 1000%. Still, there’s plenty of pressure on HCP marketers to use their budget carefully. Healthcare geofencing lets you do exactly that; you’ll focus your spend on a hyper-targeted audience during high-intent moments.
  • Improved Personalization & Relevancy: Healthcare ads can become overwhelming for HCPs, so personalization is more important than ever. Geofencing lets you get in front of your target audience when they’re working and looking for solutions. With that in mind, you can personalize your ads in more pointed ways.

How to Use Digital Healthcare Advertising to Reach HCPs at Medical Conferences

While the pandemic led to a hiatus, medical conferences are returning in full force. Here are a few steps you can utilize to advertise to HCPs and increase your chances of conference success.

Pre-Conference: Build Interest From HCPs

Here’s the plan: Come to the conference with tons of sales collateral and give it out to every HCP in sight. Right? Wrong. That’s what your competitors will do. Instead, start the conversation with HCPs weeks prior to the conference.

A company with reliable HCP data, such as Adfire Health, can pair online identities with an offline attendee list, allowing you to serve healthcare ads to handpicked HCPs. This is crucial in a world where it can take an average of 8 marketing touchpoints before closing a sale.

At the Conference: Grow Existing Relationships

While the conference is happening, use location-based advertising — known as geofencing — to deliver ads to HCPs. Set the radius around the conference and deliver ads while healthcare professionals are actually attending the conference. These ads should continue the conversation, offering even more targeted messaging based on prior behaviors from HCPs.

Post-Conference: Get Even More Targeted

The conference has ended, but your work shouldn’t. It’s time to refine your target list even further, narrowing it down to the HCPs who showed interest and intent. Being ultra-selective during this process will ensure your HCP and physician advertising is hyper-personalized.

You also won’t be wasting advertising dollars on HCPs who aren’t ready to convert. This is essential in an environment where marketers waste around 25% of their budgets on ineffective tactics and channels.

10 Best Practices for HCP Ad Creatives (Backed by Science)

Best Practice #1: Start & End With Your Most Important Messaging

When coming up with a creative strategy, figure out what you want HCPs to remember. Then, find a unique way to put this messaging at the beginning and end of your ads. This works because of “The Primacy Effect,” which helps us store information in our long-term memory while putting the information we saw last in our short-term memory. To use this concept in your healthcare ads, tell, show, and summarize your message.

Best Practice #2: Repeat Strong Messaging

Utilize the “illusory truth” in your HCP and physician advertising. This psychological concept is essentially that the more we hear something, the more we start to believe it. Use distinct and consistent messaging over and over to help HCPs remember and appreciate what you’re selling. One way to do this is by investing in more advertising channels.

Best Practice #3: Bring Your Product or Service to Life

According to one study, consumers are more likely to buy something when there’s an image or video that encourages mental interaction. As an example, right-handed individuals are more likely to purchase a mug if the ad positions the handle on the right side. How should this impact your creatives? If you’re promoting a medical app, for example, show a physician using it in different points-of-view. The 1st person POV encourages doctors to visualize themselves utilizing the app.

Best Practice #4: Utilize the Bandwagon Effect

Social psychology has demonstrated how deeply groups influence us. And this makes sense. We’ve evolved to find security in joining a community. When we see our colleagues or friends interested in something, we want to get involved. How can you capitalize on this? Showcase HCP influencers using your product or service, as well as compelling testimonials.

Best Practice #5: Get HCPs Curious

If you want HCPs to convert, pique their curiosity. How? Give them just enough information to leave them wanting more. For example, “Demo a Cardiology Device That’s Saved 5,000 Lives” is better copy than “Demo Our Newest Cardioverter Defibrillator.” Why? The HCP will be much more intrigued by the former, as they’ll want to know how the device saved 5,000 lives and how they might be able to help their patients with it.

Best Practice #6: Deal With “Analysis Paralysis”

As this article in the Harvard Business Review makes clear, many sales are lost due to inaction rather than competition. In other words, HCPs push off a decision because they don’t feel like taking action. Why? Analysis paralysis. So how do you beat it? Motivate HCPs by appealing to the “old brain,” the part of our mind that creates our experiences of emotion. To appeal to HCPs strongest emotions, relate to them on a personal level and utilize story-telling and creative design. Prevent inertia by making it easy for HCPs to convert; add clear CTAs to your ads and landing pages, such as “Click here” or “Take a few seconds to schedule a demo.”

Best Practice #7: Upgrade Your Aesthetics

Research shows that 30% of the brain is devoted to processing visuals, while only 8% is dedicated to another one of the senses, touch. We unconsciously make assumptions based on appearance. As a result, visuals are crucial to increasing HCP digital engagement. So how can you take advantage? Make sure your visuals and creatives are on-brand, consistent, and attractive. This solidifies brand awareness and builds trust.

Best Practice #8: Use Smart Labeling on Your Audience

When we’re assigned a “category” by someone else, we often change to match the expectations. In one study, researchers found that labeling someone “politically active” makes them 15% more likely to vote. Take advantage of this concept by assigning HCPs the characteristics you want them to embody. For example, you might refer to them in your advertising as “innovative” or “forward-thinking” if you want them to try a new medical device.

Best Practice #9: Provide a Reason When Requesting Action

People will be more likely to comply with a request if you tell them why you’re asking. In one experiment, when someone asked to cut a line, the subjects were more open to the request when given a reason.

The reason you provide HCPs in your advertising should change based on the circumstances. For example, show HCPs what types of updates they’ll receive if they sign up for your newsletter.

Best Practice #10: Use Storytelling

Research has shown that stories can activate the emotional part of our brains — the part related to decision-making. As a result, storytelling is a smart strategy to increase digital HCP engagement. Get your target audience to identify with your messaging by using emotionally triggering symbols, narration, and strong words.

How to Prevent HCP Ad Fatigue

What Is HCP Ad Fatigue?

HCP ad fatigue occurs when your target audience has seen your healthcare ads too many times, causing engagement to diminish. When this happens, ad prices (CPC, CPM, etc.) usually rise while your ROAS goes down.

5 Ways to Avoid Ad Fatigue for HCP Campaigns

People will be more likely to comply with a request if you tell them why you’re asking. In one experiment, when someone asked to cut a line, the subjects were more open to the request when given a reason.

#1: Pay Attention to Frequency

Showing your ads too often to HCPs can drive banner blindness and diminish performance. Set a frequency cap to give your target audience a better ad experience.

#2: Consider the Quality of Your HCP Data

If you’re targeting the wrong audience, you’ll quickly see ad fatigue. For example, promoting an oncology drug to a mix of HCPs will likely lead to poor results; your campaign should be aimed at oncologists specifically. If you suspect this is the problem, rebuild your target list with the right HCP data, including HCP emails and other contact info.

#3: Try Out New Ad Types

Many HCP marketers default to traditional ad types, like banner ads, because they’re proven. However, HCPs will eventually grow tired of your healthcare ads if they see the same formats over and over. Experiment with new ad types, such as Rising Stars and native ads.

#4: Utilize Influencer Marketing in Your Strategy

ROI for influencer marketing is 11X greater than certain types of digital marketing. Despite its effectiveness, using key opinion leaders (KOLs) in healthcare marketing isn’t common. However, influencer marketing can prevent ad fatigue by promoting products and services through HCPs’ peers and external trusted sources — not just another ad from the CEO.

#5: Up Your Creative Game

To prevent ad fatigue, you need to deliver ads that offer value. Think of it like a concert. Would you keep seeing the same band if you didn’t like their music in previous shows? No. The same is true for your ads. So how do you offer more value? Improve your creatives. For example, use animated elements and hyper-personalize your messaging based on your target audience.

What to Know About Attribution Models & HCP Campaigns

What Is an Attribution Model?

An attribution model is a framework that determines how credit for conversions is assigned to specific touchpoints. In other words, they help HCP marketers understand which initiatives a lead interacts with before converting, e.g., filling out a form, downloading a marketing asset, etc. They also tell marketers which touchpoints (any time a potential customer comes in contact with your brand) influenced leads the most.

Why Do Attribution Models Matter?

HCPs are using digital technologies more than ever — both at home and at work. In fact, the average consumer now has access to 10 connected devices. Cross-channel and cross-device behaviors mean your advertising strategy needs to account for all the different touchpoints. You need to reach HCPs across a variety of channels.

However, you also need to make sense of your campaigns, track performance, and determine which tactics are succeeding. The right attribution model will make these goals a reality.

What Are the Main Types of Attribution Models?

Attribution Model #1: Last Click

Last-click attribution gives credit to the most recent click before an HCP converts. For example, if a physician requests a demo after clicking on a native ad, that ad gets all the credit.

Attribution Model #2: First Click

First-click attribution gives credit to the very first action an HCP takes on their conversion path. For example, their first time seeing your brand may have been a banner ad.

Attribution Model #3: Linear

Linear attribution gives equal weight to every touchpoint before an HCP converts. For example, if they saw a display ad and read an email before filling out a form, each touchpoint gets 50% of the credit.

Attribution Model #4: Time Decay

Time-decay attribution gives more weight to the touchpoints that occurred closer to the conversion. For example, if an HCP visited your site three months ago and didn’t convert but returned to the site last month after seeing a display ad, then that ad gets more credit.

Attribution Model #5: Position Based

Position-based attribution gives 80% of the credit to the first and last touchpoints. An example: if an HCP’s first and last touchpoints are a display ad and an email, then the ads get 40% of the credit, the email gets 40%, and the remaining credit (20%) is distributed equally to the other touchpoints.

What Are the Main Attribution Challenges in HCP Advertising?

Despite the importance of attribution, there are many challenges:

  • Cost: 70% of marketers consider cost a challenge. Why? Attribution models are complex and can be expensive and time-consuming to build. In a performance-driven organization where leaders expect results quickly, this can be intimidating and not realistic.
  • Organizational Buy-In: It can be challenging to get leaders to buy into marketing attribution. This is especially true for executives outside of the marketing department.
  • Knowledge Gap: As a result, picking the right model is challenging — only 22% of marketers say they’re using the right one.

Why Use a Multi-Touch Attribution Model in Healthcare Advertising?

Here are the benefits of this approach:

  • Cross-Channel Friendly: A multi-touch approach lets you see performance across many different digital channels and touchpoints.
  • Justified Budgets: Growing your budget is becoming necessary to compete with other HCP marketers. How do you get more budget? Prove the impact of your HCP campaigns. Multi-touch attribution helps you do that.
  • Increased Efficiency: Inefficient ad spending is unaffordable for your brand. A multi-touch attribution approach will give you insight into exactly what’s working — and what’s not. The results? Efficiency gains of 15% to 30%.

HCP Advertising Trend #1: Digital-First HCPs

Technology is playing more of a role in HCPs’ professional and personal lives than ever. These stats speak for themselves:

As HCPs and patients become more comfortable with technology, ad capabilities will advance and marketers will need to invest more in HCP advertising strategies, like in-app advertising and video advertising.

HCP Advertising Trend #2: NPI Targeting

2022 is the year that HCP marketers will move toward 1:1 NPI targeting as a way to reach healthcare providers efficiently, deliver personalized ads, and avoid concerns about online privacy. NPI targeting accomplishes all this using first-party data so that you don’t cross privacy lines. On top of that, this type of targeting lets you reach known audiences, so you can tailor your digital advertising to HCPs’ unique pain points, needs, and interests.

HCP Advertising Trend #3: Cross-Device Targeting

Due to healthcare advertising regulations, many healthcare marketers have stuck to traditional tactics, like TV and print, rather than adopting programmatic advertising. However, effective HCP advertising requires that you reach providers across devices, including mobile, desktop, EHRs, and more. 80% of today’s consumers bounce between multiple devices.

The challenge, however, is that digital healthcare ads exist on different screens and in different ecosystems, and they all need to work together and tell a cohesive story. Cross-device targeting lets you do that, which is why it’s an important marketing trend to watch.

HCP Advertising Trend #4: Rich Media

Static ads won’t be enough in 2022. They’ll blend in with your competition and won’t produce the campaign results you’re looking for. In one study, for example, 70% of respondents said that interactive ads are more engaging than traditional ones. Moving forward, HCP marketers will need to adopt rich media to stay competitive. Utilize display ads that incorporate animations, quizzes, or hot spots.

HCP Advertising Trend #5: Influencer Marketing

According to one study, over 60% of people find information from “someone like me” to be credible. That’s part of why 80% of marketers consider influencer marketing to be effective. With stats like these, working with key opinion leaders (KOLs) is an HCP marketing trend that healthcare advertisers should adopt in 2022.

Despite the growth of influencer marketing, however, it’s far from mainstream. Utilizing KOLs will help you stay ahead of your competitors as they approach this trend with caution. Still, be careful when picking influencers to work with. Rather than choosing KOLs with the largest followings, pick ones that embody your brand values.

What to Ask an HCP Advertising Agency

Deciding whether to work with an HCP advertising agency is a big decision. That’s why it’s important to sit down with them and come prepared with questions.

#1: What Websites Can You Reach HCPs On?

HCPs spend their time on a multitude of websites, including endemic and non-endemic sites. For example, they might visit Healthline during the workday and then switch to non-endemic sites, like Reddit or The Wall Street Journal, at home. Your healthcare advertising agency should be able to reach providers across all of these sites.

#2: Do You Offer NPI Targeting?

Over 50% of client-side advertisers agree that utilizing data for better segmentation and targeting is a top priority. NPI targeting lets you accomplish this by engaging NPIs based on AMA-recognized medical specialty and other characteristics. Your healthcare ad agency must be able to do this effectively.

#3: Do You Provide Comprehensive NPI Reporting?

Your campaigns are only worthwhile if you can tie them to bottom-line results. You need indisputable evidence that they’re meeting your goals. NPI reporting shows you a breakdown of performance based on individual NPI numbers, allowing you to see which NPIs are engaging and then easily optimize.

#4: Can You Apply Custom Target Lists to My Campaigns?

Each of your campaigns will be different, so your NPI-targeting strategies will need to be tailored as well. For example, if you’re promoting a chemotherapy drug, you may only want to target oncologists — not all HCPs. Your ad agency should be able to apply custom target lists to make this happen.

#5: How Many HCPs Do You Have in Your Database?

Once you give the HCP ad agency your custom target list, they still need to match it to their first-party data. To do that successfully, they need a large HCP database. If you ask the Adfire Health team, we’ll show you that our proprietary database includes 1.4MM NPIs and 7MM related HCPs. You can break down our counts by medical specialty here.

#6: What’s Your Minimum Buy?

It can be disheartening to find a healthcare advertising agency with exactly what you need, only to learn that you don’t meet their spending threshold. The larger ad agencies will require brands to spend $300K to $2MM. Still, some agencies have a $10K minimum buy, while others have none at all. That’s a big range, so it’s important to ask.

#7: What Are the Types of Video Inventory You Recommend?

Video advertising is essential to converting HCPs and increasing brand awareness. But there are a variety of video inventory options, so your ad agency should help you choose the right strategy to meet your needs. For example, vertical video ads offer a better user experience for HCPs while outstream video ads are ideal for viewability.

#8: What Messaging Should I Use to Engage My Target Audience?

This question is about the agency’s ability to understand your target HCP and deliver the right creative elements. For example, if you’re looking to promote a heart rate monitor, ask about their approach for campaigns aimed at cardiologists. They should be able to give you examples of similar campaigns.

#9: Can You Do EHR & Telehealth Advertising?

90% of HCPs have adopted electronic health records (EHRs), and 76% of hospitals in the United States are using telehealth to connect HCPs and patients. To take advantage of these trends, your HCP ad agency must be able to run campaigns on these channels and devices.

#10: What Reach & Frequency Can I Expect?

Ask the agency how many HCPs they can reach and how often they’ll deliver healthcare ads to these providers. You’re looking for a glimpse into their digital advertising approach. They should keep the frequency as low as they can without reducing performance. This will provide a better ad experience and prevent you from spending on unnecessary impressions.

Wrapping Up: Taking Your HCP Marketing to the Next Level

As the healthcare and advertising industries continue to evolve, it’s more important than ever for marketers to understand HCP audiences and how to engage them meaningfully. Targeted advertising campaigns grab HCPs’ attention, promote your healthcare products and services, and increase your organization’s bottom line. However, working with the right partner is the only way to find success quickly and take your HCP campaigns to the next level.

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