In an online world, where algorithms and math reign supreme, programmatic advertising has provided an inexpensive way to reach people virtually anywhere, regardless of mindset. While this creates efficiency in reaching large numbers of people, the approach can come at the expense of showing an understanding of the person, and the psychological aspects of the consumer journey and decision making. This is particularly important in healthcare where contextually relevant content marketing should be king.

health union logo

Reach doesn’t equal effectiveness; content does

With the primary goal of media agencies being to reach people efficiently and effectively, programmatic audience targeting, one could argue, addresses reach at the expense of effectiveness. Programmatic misses the emotional and psychological components of decision making that accompany treatment decisions. This is a valid concern for pharma marketers to consider in every decision, including media planning.  

Content marketing is to effectiveness what programmatic is to reach. Content marketing expresses a true understanding of the patient experience, “the psychology.” Determining the optimal mix of these two approaches should be grounded in objectives. While programmatic is easier to quantify and measure in the short term, content marketing has a long-lasting, emotional impact that builds meaningful relationships.

For example, with an awareness campaign, one could argue the math of programmatic adds up. Interestingly, however, according to pharmaceutical industry norms, digital banners and video only drive a few points of awareness. The question becomes, is the juice worth the squeeze?  Marketers should ask themselves, where will I get the most value?

In reality, the promise of digital lies not in the math, but in the emotion that underlies decision making. Programmatic can’t inform what factors are influencing treatment decisions, what frustrations are being experienced with a diagnosis and how certain symptoms are affecting what they have to do today. Programmatic doesn’t address the person. Content marketing does. The proof is in the results. Targeting the same people, we see higher click-throughs, redemptions, life, and ROI in content marketing than programmatic.

The Takeaway

In today’s digitally connected world, the options to reach people with marketing messages are limitless. As a result, it has become even more important for pharma marketing teams to make smarter decisions about when and how to use the tools available to them. Programmatic advertising and social content marketing both play a role and, like every marketing choice, it comes down to objectives.

Both tools can help meet qualitative and quantitative goals. Only content marketing takes into account human behavior and the psychological receptiveness of a person to your advertising. The mathematical component programmatic offers shouldn’t overshadow the psychological and emotional aspects of the patient journey that are the true drivers of decision making in healthcare.

As an industry that promotes patient centricity, it is important to remember that people should not be reduced to pure mathematical models, especially when there are efficient ways to bring true value through human connection.

For more information on how Health Union can help you create smarter, more effective programs, visit us at www.health-union.com.