Digital healthcare. Personalized medicine. Artificial intelligence. Like the broader healthcare landscape, the pharmaceutical industry is in the midst of quite a technological revolution! While many of these innovations present new and exciting opportunities for pharma brands, digital marketers may be feeling a bit of whiplash from the speed with which they're taking hold.
And it’s not just pharmaceutical systems and tools that are changing. The marketing landscape is evolving as well, as marketing teams prioritize the adoption of digital technologies and channels that grant them more granularity, precision, and efficiency. In fact, the pharmaceutical industry is projected to see an over 40% increase in digital advertising spend from 2021 to 2024.
To understand the biggest opportunities in the pharma marketing space right now, we spoke with Ryan Sperry, VP of Integrated Client Solutions at Basis Technologies. With a decade’s worth of digital marketing experience, and specific expertise within the pharma space, Ryan has a deep understanding of how marketers can adapt to the complex landscape and set their campaigns apart.
Read on for Ryan's top insights for pharmaceutical marketing in 2023:
Ryan Sperry: I’d say the need for taking an omnichannel approach, which focuses on creating a seamless, holistic customer experience across all the channels where an audience spends time. It's not a new concept—omnichannel marketing has been around in media for quite a while, especially with digital. But traditionally in the pharma sector, there’s been a focus on a multi-channel approach, and just hitting patients in different places without a cohesive strategy. Now, there's a growing focus on omnichannel, and that’s true for both healthcare provider (HCP) and patient targeting.
On the patient side, this is especially important because a lot of consumers these days are doing their own research to figure out what healthcare decisions they want to make. They expect ads to speak to them directly with content that makes sense based on where they fall in the patient journey. Marketers in the pharma industry are starting to realize that with a targeted and data-driven approach, they can tailor their targeting and creative to do more to maximize ROI.
To start transitioning into an omnichannel approach, it’s helpful to look at where you’re reaching someone in the patient journey, as well as where patients are first being introduced to the brand. Are you reengaging them after they've visited your website? Are you reengaging them when they're at the doctor's office? The idea here is for your marketing strategy to be cohesive, rather than just a bunch of different branding ads in a bunch of different places.
RS: Patients are gaining more and more power when it comes to healthcare decision-making. There’s even a good chance that they will soon have the ability to automate their diagnoses by entering data into AI-driven personalized medicine platforms. And, with the rise of personalized health tools like fitness trackers, patients also have new data to work with that makes it easier for them to self-diagnose. As pharmaceutical technology and patient enablement increase with AI innovations, patients will have even more agency to make health decisions before they even step foot in a doctor’s office.
This is something pharma marketers will need to pay attention to, because these developments will push people into even more contextually relevant digital spaces. As patient behavior changes (along with the spaces in which those patients spend their time, be it condition-specific centers or telehealth platforms), marketers will need to keep tabs on the shifts and adjust their strategies accordingly.
RS: Having the right measurement structures in place. As with any campaign, it’s important to go beyond front-end metrics like impressions and clicks if you want to see real results. Unified reporting and measurement can help create a cohesive omnichannel strategy that speaks directly to individual HCPs and patients, and stands out in a crowded market.
On the patient side, for example, you’ll want to look at things like audience quality—which allows marketers to measure how well their reached audience matches with their intended audience—and RX lift studies, where marketers can use tools like IQVIA or Crossix to measure prescription lift as a result of digital advertising. Then, teams can better assess whether they’re seeing ROI from those campaigns and optimize accordingly.
Interested in working with experts like Ryan? Connect with us to find out how our media strategy and activation services put pharma marketers on the cutting edge of HCP and patient targeting.