How Pharma Brands Can Use OTT Advertising to Reach Patients

How Pharma Brands Can Use OTT Advertising to Reach Patients
By Madhive Marketing
May 31, 2023

TV has long been a staple of pharma advertising. In 2022, the top 10 pharmaceutical ad spenders alone combined for a total of $1.68 billion in TV ad spend.

But the ways people watch TV content have evolved. 

Nearly 50 million U.S. households are expected to cut the cable/satellite cord by 2024. Conversely, consumption of over-the-top (OTT) video content via connected devices (like connected TVs, smart phones, tablets, gaming consoles, etc.) is on the rise. The U.S. alone is expected to have over 300 million OTT users by 2027 — about 90% market penetration.

Plus, 87% of U.S. adults own at least one connected TV, and almost half of US adults watch a connected TV daily. CTV viewing accounts for about 80% of all OTT viewing.

But migrating pharmaceutical ads to OTT and CTV makes sense beyond following the viewers. 

Casting a broad net via television advertising can result in a lot of wasted spend if you’re a medical advertiser. There’s little point showing an eczema ad to a person who doesn’t have the condition.  

OTT advertising, on the other hand, allows you to reach the patients and caregivers you’re looking for on all the connected devices they use throughout the day.

A day in the life of an OTT user

Before we get into how an OTT campaign works to reach the right patients and HCPs, let’s look at how the average person spends their time watching online content throughout the day.

Meet Drew. 

a timeline of "Drew's" day and the different times that he used OTT advertising devices.

Drew likes to play ESPN on his smart TV while he wakes up and gets ready in the morning. He’ll often choose something else to watch via his laptop while he eats his lunch midday — let’s say it’s Discovery+ today. 

In the evening, Drew is most likely to kick back in the living room, maybe watching Tubi via his xBox console. And finally, he tunes into Peacock via his tablet before falling asleep in bed.

By the end of the Day, Drew has watched four different networks via four different devices.

platforms and their corresponding OTT advertising device

To connect effectively with Drew without wasting ad spend, you need to be able to reach him in these various places times he’s using each device. It’s not only possible with OTT — it’s easy.

Reaching the right patients, caregivers, and communities

Let’s say our character Drew is also living with eczema. How would an advertiser be able to reach him — in a privacy-centric way — to provide information about a potential pharmaceutical therapy?

timeline of patient having symptoms to receiving treatment in conjunction with when they are exposed to ads

1. Get a clear picture of who your patients are

The best way to find people with a given condition is to start with aggregated, anonymized medical data from Medicx. This data offers signals from anonymized medical data that indicate a particular person may be in the market for a healthcare solution. These signals allow you to create segments of people you’d like to reach with your OTT ad.

2. Understand exactly where your patients are

The next step is to use signals to create hyper-local geographies for your OTT ad.

Traditionally, linear TV advertising targets viewers by geographic regions called DMAs. There are 210 of these three-digit DMA codes in the U.S., and each one contains a few million people. Targeting by zip code is a bit more effective, breaking down the DMAs a bit further. There are about 40,000 five-digit zip codes across the country.

But if your goal is to target hyper-local groups with brand eligible patients, you need to break down zip codes even further. 

Medicx breaks zip codes down to score and rank the entire United States into 35 million hyper-local groups, each including somewhere between five to 1,500 households. For example, a single story of a 30-floor apartment building in Manhattan may be considered one of these “zip knock” geographies or “micro neighborhoods”.

What’s the point?

Each one of these micro neighborhoods has signals in it for medical services you’re looking to sell. If one neighborhood has 1,000 of those signals, and another only has 25, the first will show up as a higher priority for your campaign. 

Scoring and ranking these 35 million micro neighborhoods not only allows you to reach Drew with your therapy advertisement — it also allows you to reach Drew’s local family, friends and neighbors that may influence Drew’s treatment decisions. 

Of course, this is all conducted in a HIPAA-compliant and privacy-safe manner.

3. Activate your campaign

Once you have your target audience nailed down, the next step is to work with a data-agnostic OTT platform to match the audience segments to available inventory and run the ads. 

Madhive, for example, offers seamless campaign planning and activation. Once an audience has been defined by Medicx, our platform cross references the custom audience with available OTT inventory. Advertisers can use that output data to plan, activate, and measure the campaign, all in one platform.

4. Measure and optimize

Speaking of measuring, the best OTT platforms provide actionable performance data throughout the campaign to help you optimize your performance and return on ad spend (ROAS). 

Madhive’s real-time dashboard provides insights specific to OTT and CTV performance. You can optimize your campaigns against variables like creative, video completion rate, audiences, and more. Powered by AI, the Madhive decision engine optimizes on outcomes in real time, taking the guesswork out of optimization and measurement. 

The OTT opportunity for pharma brands

OTT advertising presents pharmaceutical brands with the opportunity to connect with patients via a precise set of touch points throughout the day. As you saw in Drew’s example, a well designed OTT campaign can connect with Drew across various moments of his daily routine.

The combination of micro neighborhood targeting from Medicx and the power of local TV activation from Madhive empowers pharma brands to establish personalized connections with consumers. Plus, the level of clinical specificity and OTT expertise is unrivaled in the industry.

The partnership delivers — brands running ads through Medicx and Madhive have accomplished a 40% decrease in cost per diagnosed user.

Looking to effectively and efficiently reach patients? Get in touch today.