Mobile and In-App Advertising for HCPs: Why Does It Work?

Mobile and In-App Advertising for HCPs: Why Does It Work?

Advertisers are projected to spend $402 billion on mobile ad spending in 2024. For healthcare advertisers, this is especially important as 51% of their time spent online comes from mobile devices, and 4 in 5 healthcare professionals (HCPs) use smartphones every day. To reach HCPs, healthcare advertisers need to understand the basics of using mobile and in-app advertising and how to maximize reach using this platform.

How Does Mobile & In-App Advertising Work?

Mobile ads are typically surfaced on mobile websites through browsers such as Safari or Google Chrome. In-app ads are shown through smartphone applications such as social media or mobile game apps. 

Unlike internet advertising where the target user’s information is obtained through cookies, mobile and in-app advertising uses mobile device IDs. A device ID is a unique anonymous identifier consisting of numbers and letters that corresponds with a single, specific mobile device, or user.4 Every smartphone has a unique device ID that is stored directly in the phone’s hardware and corresponds directly to the user. There are two types of device IDs that exist: the Google Advertising ID (GAID) that exists on Android devices and the Identity for Advertisers (IDFA) located inside all devices that use iOS or Apple products.

HCPs and Smartphone Use

A common misconception among healthcare advertisers is that HCPs are too busy during their workdays to engage on smartphone apps or surf the web. In fact, not only are HCPs using smartphones during their downtime, but they’ve incorporated them into their practice settings as well. Clinicians may use phones with device IDs to look at information on the web on the go, quickly communicate with colleagues though messaging services and apps, and access patient data and test results on telehealth platforms.5

Although the average age of both the physician and the nurse extends into the 5th generation (51 years for physicians and 48-50 years for nurses), smartphone use among those age groups is relatively high.6,7 In 2019, approximately 92% of individuals aged 30-49 owned a smartphone and 79% of those aged 50-64 owned a smartphone.8

Percentage of Physicians Compared With Percentage of Smartphone Users by Age

Additionally, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a historic spike in medical school applications among those in their 20s.9 This population has been the most engaged on smartphones, with 86% of Americans aged 18-29 owning at least 1 smartphone.10 This influx of young HCPs coupled with their increasing smartphone use unveils an opportunity for healthcare advertisers to reach younger HCPs with mobile and in-app advertising.

Target HCPs with Device IDs

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With the power of mobile device IDs, healthcare advertisers can identify HCPs through their engagement with mobile and in-app advertising. These advertisers can identify HCPs by looking into the top medical apps for doctors—especially if these doctors are using apps at practice settings. These include Epocrates, Medscape, UpToDate, and MedPage Today.11 

Additionally, marketers should identify how medical professionals spend their time online, which includes reading the news, playing games, and reading content related to healthcare, cooking, and fitness, among other topics. This way, they can identify where their clinician audience is interacting on mobile and in-app, locate the device IDs, and surface their creative.

Benefits of Device IDs

Marketers may be asking themselves why they should target their audience using mobile device IDs when cookies exist. However, the cookie-less world is fast approaching. User identity will become much more personalized through this approach, so adopting identity-based data now will give healthcare advertisers an advantage in harnessing cookie-less data.

Specific benefits of targeting HCPs with mobile and in-app advertising as opposed to other channels include higher click-through rates and the ability to analyze user data.4

  • High click-through rates. Studies show that mobile app advertising generates about a 0.08% click-through rate whereas desktop generates a 0.04% click-through rate. Targeting HCPs with relevant mobile content will guarantee a higher click-through rate and allow for increased engagement.
  • Lifespan. Desktop cookies typically have a lifespan of 2-3 weeks whereas device IDs remain consistent indefinitely unless the user schedules a device ID reset (which is very unlikely to happen).
  • Behavioral trends. The information obtained from device IDs can be used to analyze specific user trends as well as to further categorize these users into cohorts (groups with similar traits). This is especially beneficial for healthcare advertising looking to target HCPs as they can identify how pharmaceuticals behave over longer periods of time.
  • Mobile attribution. With device IDs, marketers can follow the HCPs interaction with the ad through data that is then able to be analyzed and aggregated based on specific measures and usage criteria. Marketers can see whether or not the HCP clicked on the ad, how they behaved within the ad interface, and how much time they spent interacting with the ad.

Next Steps with Mobile and In-App Advertising

Moving forward with mobile and in-app advertising means investing ad spend in a strategic mobile advertising campaign as opposed to utilizing more traditional channels such as desktop. For healthcare advertisers looking to target their audience with higher reach and frequency, mobile and in-app advertising is the best option as the number of HCPs using smartphones will continue to increase.

“Adfire Health’s team can develop a customized mobile advertising solution through our inventory of device IDs to identify your healthcare target audience and create a hyper-targeted, accurate ad campaign.”

  1. Sydow L. The State of Mobile in 2020: How to Win on Mobile. App Annie website. Published January 15, 2020. Accessed January 20, 2021.  
  2. Petrov C. 57 Mobile vs. Desktop Usage Statistics For 2020 [Mobile’s Overtaking!]. Techinjury website. Updated August 11, 2020. Accessed January 20, 2021. 
  3. Healthcare Client Services. Professional Use of Smartphones by Doctors. Kantar. Published November 16, 2016, Accessed January 20, 2021. 
  4. Device ID. Apps Flyer website. Accessed January 20, 2021. 
  5. Ryan T. Treating the Smartphone Generation: How Doctors are Embracing mHealth to Improve Patient Care. HealthChampion website. Published November 11, 2019. Accessed January 20, 2021.   
  6. Sweeney JF. Physician Retirement: Why it’s Hard for Doctors to Retire. Medical Economics. Published February 13, 2019. Accessed January 20, 2021. 
  7. Schnur MB. U.S. Nurses in 2020: Why We Are and Where We Work. NursingCenter website. Published May 28, 2020. Accessed January 20, 2021. 
  8. Demographics of Mobile Device Ownership and Adoption in the United States. Pew Research Center. Published June 12, 2019. Accessed January 21, 2021. 
  9. Travis A. Historic Spike in Medical School Applications: Is It the ‘Fauci Effect? KXAN website. Published December 25, 2020. Accessed January 20, 2021. 
  10. Anderson M. The Demographics of Device Ownership. Pew Research Center. Published October 25, 2015. Accessed January 20,. 2021.
  11. Rupp S. Top Medical Apps for Doctors. Electronic Health Reporter website. Published February 18, 2019. Accessed January 20, 2021. 
  12. How to Effectively Reach Medical Professionals Through Content Marketing. Health Link Dimensions website. Published January 9, 2019. Accessed January 20, 2021. 

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