What on Earth Is HCP Targeting?

What on Earth Is HCP Targeting?

If there’s one thing that makes HCP advertising so impactful, it’s this: You have an incredibly powerful way to segment and target (and retarget) healthcare professionals (HCPs) with ads. With advanced HCP targeting, you can focus your ad spend on a more cultivated target list of HCPs. From there, you can deliver meaningful ads, and ultimately, get a better return on your ad spend (ROAS). This article defines HCP targeting, how it can lead to more HCP engagement, and how easy it is to implement into existing or future campaigns.

What Is HCP Targeting?

HCP targeting is a marketing tactic that allows you to segment HCPs and serve ads to them based on specific characteristics, such as medical specialty and hospital affiliation. For example, if you’re promoting an automated external defibrillator, you can target cardiologists.

How’s HCP Targeting Different Than Other Targeting Tactics?

HCP targeting is different than other targeting tactics because it engages HCPs on a 1:1 level using first-party data. As a result, HCP targeting puts quality ahead of quantity.

Think of it like this: If other targeting tactics—such as targeting by age or job title—mean that you’re fishing on a boat in the middle of the ocean with a huge net, HCP targeting is you ordering at a fish market. While the former will get you a ton of fish, you don’t precisely know which fish you’ll catch or how many of them will meet your standards. At the market (HCP targeting), you’ll get fewer fish, but you can avoid fishing altogether and head home for a nice dinner.

HCP Segmentation: Why Is It Important to Segment Your Campaigns by HCPs?

There’s a long list of reasons why HCP segmentation and targeting are essential. Of those reasons, competition, rising ad prices, and privacy concerns stick out. Here’s why:

  • Competition

    Digital ad spending for healthcare and pharma companies is expected to surpass $11B by the end of 2021.1 While this is an excellent indication that programmatic advertising works, it also means that you’ll be scratching and clawing for HCPs’ attention. Why’s this an opportunity? Because many of your competitors will use less precise HCP segmentation and targeting tactics that aren’t capable of the engagement levels you’ll realize with HCP targeting.

  • Price

    When the demand for ads increases (without an increase in supply), prices follow. On Facebook, for example, CPMs (cost per thousand impressions) rose by 55.6% between January 2020 and April 2021.2 Due to the rising tides, it’s not realistic or affordable for you to run campaigns aimed at millions upon millions of HCPs. Instead, you’ll need an alternative way to target HCPs; one that lowers costs without sacrificing performance. HCP targeting does that.

  • Privacy

    Programmatic advertising is undergoing a radical shift due to increasing privacy concerns. This means that some technology, like third-party cookies, is going away, and you’ll have to find a privacy-first way to target HCPs. HCP targeting and NPI targeting give you that, which is excellent news considering that 3 in 5 people said they’re more likely to care about a personalized ad, and 56% of respondents said relevant ads don’t bother them.3

How Can HCP Targeting Lead to More Engagement?

No matter how long you’ve been investing in programmatic healthcare advertising, you’ve relied on different performance metrics to determine if it’s working. For example, CPM, reach, and impressions. These metrics will still play a role moving forward; however, you’ll need to generate positive engagement metrics, such as clicks, to maintain a successful HCP ad strategy.

Thankfully, HCP targeting is designed to help you do that, giving you the ability to segment by HCPs, target specific ones, and then deliver ads that match their unique needs and preferences. Here are a few examples of how you could do this:

  • Creative & Copy

    You can personalize creatives based on what you know about your target HCPs. For example, you could show an ad with an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) to a cardiologist or a new cancer treatment to an oncologist. The same holds true with how you approach the copy, i.e., you can use language that’ll resonate with different HCPs.

  • Digital Devices

    Different generations of HCPs may use different devices—think millennials versus Baby Boomers. With HCP targeting, you can account for this variability. For example, if you’re targeting millennial dermatologists, you can make a strategic adjustment and allocate more spend to devices, like connected TV (CTV), that this demographic uses.

  • Digital Channels

    Knowing your target audience means that you can focus on channels and sites they’re more likely to be on. For example, we’ve found that cardiologists and radiologists prefer News and Business content by 672% (which allowed us to increase CTRs on one campaign by 55%).

More relevant ads mean more HCP engagement. Don’t believe me? When a medical device company used 1:1 targeting to engage hospital C-suite executives, it saw click-through rates (CTR) 233% higher than industry standards​​ and conversion rates greater than 3,000%.

Applying HCP Targeting to Your Existing Healthcare Advertising Campaigns

There’s no denying that many HCP marketing tactics are complex—especially when they require you to jump through hoops and implement new technology. When this is the case, the learning curve is steep, and you’re prevented from getting revenue-boosting campaigns live.

HCP targeting is easy to implement, which means you can quickly apply it to new and existing campaigns.

Here’s how simple it can be to start using HCP targeting:

  • Step #1: Compile or identify a target list of HCPs you want to reach and engage.
  • Step #2: Team up with a programmatic partner, such as Adfire Health, that has reliable, up-to-date, and brand-safe HCP data.
  • Step #3: Start your campaign. Relax while the engagements start rolling in.

It’s that simple. Do you want to learn more about HCP targeting or want to get started? Reach out to us today.


  1. Droesch B. US Healthcare and Pharma Digital Ad Spending 2020. eMarketer. Published September 30, 2020. Accessed August 19, 2021.
  2. Burd T. Facebook Advertising Costs by CPM. Reveal Bot. Published 2021. Accessed August 19, 2021.
  3. Perrin N. US Consumers Tolerate Ads if They’re Expecting Them or They’re Incentivized. eMarketer. Published September 11, 2019. Accessed August 19, 2021.

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