Healthcare marketers and media buyers congregated at Rockefeller Center for the 2022 MM+M Media Summit on Monday.

Speakers on the seven panels weighed in on the pandemic’s impact on healthcare marketing, trends affecting the business model for media buyers and prospects for an industry facing widespread innovation and stiff economic headwinds.

Below are four key takeaways from the event.

1. Representation matters in advertising

As more healthcare advertisers seek to interface with diverse and underrepresented patient populations, there will be an imperative to better understand the challenges and needs of these consumers.

Yusuf Chuku, EVP of client strategy and insights at NBCUniversal Media, and Lauren Zweifler, SVP of insights and research, client strategy and insights organization at NBCUniversal, passed along key learnings from their research for media buyers.

Some of these lessons included focusing on shared cultural pillars, fostering a feeling of shared success and creating a sense of community with patients.

Their presentation concluded that ideal representation in marketing exists within a hierarchy and culminates in a fully integrated portrayal of the patient experience. Advertising that reflects the lives, values and concerns of targeted audiences is critical to driving success, as presence is the first step in delivering satisfaction.

Chuku and Zweifler also said that brands who follow these steps will be rewarded by their target consumers.

Additionally, during a panel on the impact of diversity, equity and inclusion, Dr. Preeti Parikh, executive medical director at GoodRx, and Kristen Tappan, SVP Media at CMI Media Group, emphasized that communications need to include those who want to be included.

The conversation stressed that health literacy must be addressed and prioritized among patients, with personalization in educational content to drive further awareness.

Turning their attention to the rare disease space, Parikh and Tappan said it is helpful to have experts deployed alongside patient advocates to spread key information to target audiences. They added that social media, for all its criticisms, has allowed disease communities to coalesce and communicate more than ever before.

2. Leveraging programmatic tech

Most healthcare brands are using programmatic technology to manage their digital ad buying, but the question has become whether those brands are using only programmatic technology.

Given that the technology has long since gone mainstream, marketers are now reevaluating how to manage their ad buys so that they have a more cost-efficient way to reach patients.

Jeremy Mittler, head of Crossix Audience Segments at Veeva, said pharma brands are catching up to the performance of other sectors in the programmatic space, adding that there is a high likelihood of consolidation in the crowded and relatively new space.

While legacy players buying up competitors poses a risktofuture innovation, there is a chance that this trend could lead to greater resources for scaling up programmatic technology.

Louis Naimoli, director of programmatic sales and business development at Haylo, noted that one other concern for marketers will be maintaining consumer privacy as programmatic technology continues to be utilized in campaign.

3. The future is streaming

As 2022 comes to a close, Netflix and Disney+ are readying the deployment of ad-supported tiers. This means that more opportunities are about to present themselves to marketers on connected TV services.

Enthusiasm for marketing programs that tap into streaming audiences is relatively high, though that will only make the competitive landscape even more daunting.

A core strategy to compete in the streaming era will be creating a more personalized message across targeted platforms. 

Speakers on this panel included Eric Lloyd, head of Industry, Health & Wellness at Roku, Allison Sanjuanelo, senior pharma sales manager at Samsung Ads, Megan Ryan, VP of client strategy, ads and partnerships at NBCUniversal and Renee Marotta, VP of marketing at Optinose.

4. Getting social on social

This conversation took place against the backdrop of the recent takeover of Twitter by Elon Musk and widespread skepticism from medical marketers about the future of advertising on the platform.

Michael Deichmiller, VP of client engagement and planning at Butler/Till, and Rishi Kadiwar, VP of strategy at LiveWorld, acknowledged the need for brands to be on various social media platforms but to target different audiences on each and in different ways.

They highlighted how the days of having a Facebook page or being active on Twitter has been upended by the emergence of TikTok, BReal and other apps.

This is due in part to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but marketers still need to adjust their operations in kind.