Click here to read the 2022 Healthcare Marketers Trend Report.

Peter Kane, director, growth marketing at Swoop, sees plenty of note in the results of the 2022 MM+M/Swoop Healthcare Marketers Survey.

He points to the still-recovering average marketing budget figure, suggesting that the upward climb toward the survey’s 2019 peak means there remains a need to maximize the value of marketing spend. He also singles out the increased share of spend in the social media and paid digital realms, reinforcing that marketers need better ways to optimize these growth channels.

But what jumps out at Kane most is what he characterizes as “the underappreciation of privacy, both as a challenge to navigate and an opportunity to think differently about targeting.”

Healthcare Marketers Survey respondents ranked privacy 14th on their list of challenges, behind “mainstream media coverage of the industry” and “emerging markets.” Similarly, the respondents ranked 21 other potential opportunities ahead of privacy.

Peter Kane, director, growth marketing at Swoop

Kane doesn’t diminish any of those other challenges or opportunities. Rather, he believes that, by downplaying privacy-related concerns, marketers are out of step with consumer and physician preferences.

He points to research revealing that 86% of consumers are concerned about data privacy and that 79% of them are willing to take action — “essentially, leave a platform,” he says — if they don’t believe that their privacy concerns are being taken seriously enough.

“There’s been a real and noticeable shift,” Kane explains. “If I’m a savvy marketer, I’m looking at the current situation and making sure I’m not dropping the ball on privacy.”

Indeed, the “current situation” Kane references is one rife with change. Google announced last month that it will cut tracking across apps on Android devices. Apple made a similar decision last year, which had the effect of upending the digital advertising ecosystem. Additionally, earlier this year, Facebook discontinued ad targeting based on sensitive topics such as health, while Google announced another change to how it will block third-party cookies in Chrome.

Kane says there are steps marketers can take to get ahead of these shifts — in ways that both mitigate risk and optimize marketing outcomes.

“First, I’m making sure my data vendors are NAI-compliant, which assures patient privacy beyond HIPAA-certification. Second, I’m moving on from targeting through demographic and online data to privacy-safe offline health data,” he stresses. “There are always going to be changes in the privacy landscape, but these steps can reduce exposure while also enhancing audience quality, which leads to better engagement and, ultimately, script lift.”

Swoop works with 18 of the top 20 healthcare marketing agencies and 42 of the top 50 pharmaceutical brands. The percentages of each subset choosing to work with Swoop suggest that organizations are very much on board with how the company builds privacy-safe, AI-generated custom audiences that use real world data specific to a given treatment or brand.

“Pharma marketers are starting to grasp the opportunity they have with these custom audiences,” Kane says. “The survey shows that budgets are still down from where they were — well, leveraging these audiences is the best way to get value out of those tightened budgets.