MM+M’s GM Steve Madden sat down with Louis Naimoli, director of programmatic for Haylo, a subsidiary of Haymarket Medical Network, for a sponsored podcast discussion on omnichannel marketing, its prevalence in the pharma industry and how Haylo is using the medium to help its clients achieve optimal results and success within their target audiences.

Omnichannel marketing, Naimoli explained, is a big picture approach to reaching an audience — coordinating brand messaging across online and offline channels — that provides a clear, consistent message at each step of that audience’s journey.

“It’s a much more thoughtful approach,” he said in response to Madden’s query on how omnichannel differs from the popular “spray and pray” method. “While it can certainly include a mix of any type of online or offline channels and mediums, one of the most important aspects is the audience-first approach, i.e., asking the brand questions such as ‘Who do they want to reach?’ and then focusing on where that particular audience is actually spending their time engaging so that the messaging it’s putting out there really gets a chance to sink in.”

Naimoli noted there are three main areas companies need to take into consideration in order to be successful when developing a strategic omnichannel approach, the first of which revolves around data — specifically quality data.

“Quality data ensures that your advertiser is actually reaching its target audience regardless of the channel,” he said. “One of the main benefits of omnichannel is it gives us the ability to combine offline data with online activity, and allows us to take things such as HCP information, medical claims data and anonymized patient data, and connect them all together based on the online activity of those segments.”

Naimoli emphasized that without a quality starting point, it can be extremely difficult to validate results and justify ad spend to clients, especially when it comes to pharma audiences, who can be very niche and often hard for advertisers to reach.

The next area is content creative, with Naimoli noting the importance of clients thinking about creative as early on in the campaign as possible, given the multitude of regulatory and legal barriers that often come into play with pharma campaigns.

“Oftentimes clients don’t realize just how long it can take for a piece of creative to pass through the MLR system,” he said. “It’s not always something that can be done quickly or easily — it takes time, effort and investment in order to make sure you have something that will resonate with your audience and will still be ready in time for launch.”

The conversation then shifted to talk of the pandemic, with Madden asking Naimoli what impact he has seen in the marketing realm, particularly omnichannel, these last 20-plus months.

“It has certainly impacted the way everyone consumes media as well as the amount of time we’re spending on devices and different formats of advertising,” Naimoli said, sharing a stat from another publication which stated that HCPs saw a 111% increase year over year from 2019 to 2020 in the amount of digital advertising they are being exposed to. This statistic, he noted, can be daunting for brands looking to stay relevant amid a massive digital spike, and one that has forced a need for fluidity when it comes to many companies’ advertising budgets, as well as a shift in focus towards a larger picture approach.

“In order to separate themselves from the noise and the tendency to blast the same message over and over again, companies now have to adapt strategies such as omnichannel that will help them engage with those HCPs or patients across every single touch point,” Naimoli explained. “Rather than just focusing on one kind of search or one social and dedicating x amount of their annual budgets, they need to look to capitalize on those channels where their target audience is showing historic engagement.”

Having real-time insights into how a campaign is performing can be invaluable to a company, Naimoli said, especially those trying to reach more elusive audiences such as pharma or HCPs, who often work long, intense hours and have only a small window of time for engagement.

That’s why an omnichannel approach can be especially effective in reaching this audience, he continued, because it focuses on ways to reach HCPs during their work day while they’re actually in the point of care, seeing and treating patients. Naimoli noted that when working with clients trying to reach HCPs, he recommends aiming for a mix of non-endemic display or video ads with an EHR component so that they’re receiving relevant and topical advertising for a specific patient or specialty. That, combined with a follow-up message to their personal device they can view on their lunch break or outside of office hours where they have more time to engage, allows them to truly ingest the message they’re receiving.

“We do our best to not over serve HCPs and be respectful of their time, while maximizing the most effective touchpoints throughout their day,” he said.

This brought Naimoli to the third area of focus for a successful omnichannel campaign: having a clear understanding of what a client’s overall goals are. He noted this went beyond  just basic campaign metric goals such as clicks or site visits, and instead should reflect a vision of their long-term business goals and the timeframe they have to work within.

“You need an understanding of all the potential areas where you could be reaching that audience whether it be online format, social SEM display, video or even things such as out-of-home and connected or linear television,” he said. “Then you have to take that content and adapt it to each of the specific channels taking care to ensure you have a consistently strong message throughout.”

Naimoli emphasized that the right data and advertising measurement partner can be a valuable asset when learning how to navigate this often complex landscape.

“Once you know where the most valuable audience engagement is occurring, you’ll be able to make the necessary adjustments toward directing budget and capital to those areas,” he said. “Finding a reliable partner that can help walk you through the process as well as educate you on the benefits of all the different channels and how targeting works on each can be an incredible resource to have.”