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5 Benefits of Programmatic Advertising for Pharma

While the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the health industry to pivot and adopt digital initiatives more frequently, many are also discovering that programmatic advertising does offer several advantages in engaging audiences and elevating experiences online.


While traditional advertising will always be part of the mix, programmatic advertising seems to be gaining traction among pharmaceutical brands for both their Direct-to-Provider/Payer (DTP) and Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) messaging. Intuitive Artificial Intelligence (AI) and algorithms are what power automation, from campaign delivery to data reporting and more, as well as add relevancy, save time and minimize mistakes stemming from human error.

On the Rise: According to Insider Intelligence, U.S. Programmatic Display Ad Growth will rebound 24.1 percent this year—after already increasing 10.4 percent in 2020. 


Given the dynamic digital landscape of programmatic advertising, pharma and health brands have access to rich data that provides insight into their audience’s online behavior and engagement. Also, as telehealth became more widespread in 2020, HCPs and consumers became more comfortable with virtual interactions. These factors allow for a better understanding and make it possible to create highly tailored campaigns by segmentation. Following are the different segments that healthcare players are targeting through programmatic advertising:

  • Behavioral
  • Geographic
  • Demographic
  • Psychographic
  • Contextual
  • And Through Communication Preferences

Programmatic advertising offers pharma and health brands tremendous flexibility as far as the delivery of messaging across different channels and devices that resonate most with their HCP and DTC audiences. Ultimately, this leads to better engagement on all fronts, whether it is via desktops/laptops, mobile, industry networks, telehealth platforms, among other outlets.

As for the messaging medium, this could span image-based displays, social media campaigns, digital audio ads, native ads, and other innovations.

Recent Research: Findings reveal that the health and pharma vertical allocate most of their digital spending to mobile (57.5 percent) followed by desktop/laptop (42.5 percent). Source: eMarketer (2020)


Along with highly targeted segmentation, programmatic advertising provides compelling data that captures engagement in real-time. Access to analytics can help health and pharma brands modify their messaging at any given moment, impacting relevancy, reach, and context, as well as track metrics and measure campaign performance as it unfolds.


As programmatic advertising continues to evolve, this presents an exciting time for the pharma and health industry—one that they can shape in ways that optimize messaging and interactions with their target audiences and generate metrics to measure and map out their future direction and future opportunities. As for the areas with the potential to see growth, CTV (skippable online advertising to relevant content channels and audience groups) and video ads offer more room for programmatic penetration.


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