Why Mobile Customization is Key in Pharma Advertising

March 27, 2018

Most healthcare brands are now making mobile a priority. Recently there are even more reasons to do so, as well as ways to make this channel work for you to better engage HCP audiences. This POV will review why mobile is important for your brand and list ways to harness the medium for your brand goals.

Physicians are Mobile

Whether in a private practice or a hospital setting, physicians themselves are mobile, and depend on their information sources to be mobile too. They may be sitting in front of a laptop for part of the day, but they always have their smartphones with them. Physicians increasingly depend on technology to seek information about their desired specialty or patient-specific issues. CMI/Compas Media Vitals 2017 research shows multiple scenarios where HCPs prefer to research data about drug topics on their mobile device rather than desktop. On an average day, 79% of physicians use a mobile app or access medical/professional websites from their smartphone. Also, on average – 60% of HCPs spend time browsing medical apps using a handheld device.

Additionally, mobile devices and apps provide many benefits for HCPs, perhaps most significantly increased access to point-of-care tools, which has been shown to support better clinical decision-making and improved patient outcomes (Pharmacother, 2013). Mobile devices have also been shown to be important tools for teaching. For instance, a lot of HCPs have residents who they are continually guiding and educating. Residents (a younger demographic) use their mobile devices throughout the day to access more relevant content regarding patients they are treating in offices/hospitals. So, a new approach could be to target residents who are constantly searching and exploring on their smartphones.

Targeted vs. Broad

There are obvious differences between a targeted campaign versus a broad campaign. Broad campaigns permit you to push out a certain message to everyone within that network; websites, print circulation, registered social sites, etc. While a targeted campaign has you hone in on a specific group of HCPs with tailored messages based on the need of the physician, pharmaceutical brands as a whole can increase viewability of their messages, while also seeing a surge in reach.

Strategies always vary for many pharmaceuticals brands – but, one thing to recommend for a mobile -specific campaign is a targeted approach. It is proven that HCPs prefer individually-targeted ads over a generic message. It is crucial that you are sending the right message to the right people!

Hyper-targeting gives media planners the power to send tailored ads directly to HCPs, based on deep knowledge of that physicians’ online tendencies – giving media folk the ability to only advertise to those individuals who show an interest in your brand or drug.

The need for personalization in promotional promotion has many benefits:

  • Improves Customer Retention – Gives you the ability to focus on your best physicians
  • Minimize Waste – Guide accurate frequency
  • Make Marketing Useful to Customer – Predictive vs. Reactive
  • Increase Engagement and Conversion – Higher return on marketing spend

Personalization can deliver a 5-8x higher ROI on marketing spend, and lift sales by 10% or more (Harvard, 2015). This approach is also more cost effective than blasting your message out to a broad audience. As stated above; it gives you the ability to specifically target your highest script writers. In the end, these HCPs are the most likely to help increase ROI for the brand.

Lastly, in 2016 trends brought a new emphasis on using data to understand customer needs, and personalization to support them. With this in mind, you can create a deep understanding of HCP preferred channels for increased campaign effectiveness. To start, you can factor in ways to plan for accommodating personalization into your strategy for the future such as:

  • Data Finding – Combine traditional and behavioral data to uncover meaningful insights about preferences, needs, and interests
  • Automated Decision-Making – Propensity scores define the likelihood of individual HCPs engaging with specific content, and tracking customer reactions to guide future messaging and offers
  • Content Dissemination – Content is king! – and will fuel success moving forward; Delivering personalized ads and distributing specific content, offers, or experiences across channels.

Mobile Strategy in Pharma

According to Media Vitals – HCPs are still using traditional stationary computers to seek information by 79%. But, increasingly from 2016 to 2017, HCPs are now at 60% of usage for using a mobile device or tablet when seeking medical information. In the end, having a healthy mix of both mobile and desktop will be essential to drive your message to whom you are reaching.

Now, it is no secret that one of the best ways for advertisers to approach the growing mobile marketing trend is to make it highly relevant to them. There are countless outlets where medically relevant information can live. One way to choose a specific partner or source for your mobile advertisements is to look at companies who have aggregated all relevant content, which is unique to your targeted HCP.

Some top performing mobile tactics that have proven success for many brands are:

  1. Mobile display banners
  2. Mobile banners within a social app
  3. Mobile geo-targeting within contextually relevant platforms or surrounding major conventions

Ultimately, any buy you make on a high quality, mobile-only HCP channel is already going to be more effective than your average ad network site. But, the pharma brands that are exceeding expectations in mobile are the ones who are working with mobile partners that can target by specialty and geographically.

Geo-targeting is really a way to speak to your physicians in either your top high prescribing cities, or low prescribing cities – keeping your brand top of mind. This is just another way to get more granular with your targeting – which in result, keeps your brands cost down as well. Or, you can choose to select your top targets by a certain specialty, which then, you can cater an even more tailored message to them – utilizing a much more targeted strategy, which is recommended to pair with a broad strategy as well.


First step is to determine what your brand goals are overall. From there, your media team can help guide how this can fit into your existing or new plan, as well as tying back into strategy. Many attributes come into play while figuring out the best way to approach a mobile campaign. Not one recommendation is a fit for all brands. Some key topics to keep in mind:

  1. How can we achieve the overall goal of the campaign with a mobile plan? (RX Lift, Awareness, etc.)
  2. Does this play into the existing strategy and budget?
  3. Which channel would be best for a mobile campaign based on Affinity and Reach to your designated targets?
  4. What message are you trying to push out? (Launch, Indication, Safety Information, etc.)
  5. What types of assets are acceptable for your brand? What are some of the roadblocks with assets (Boxed Warning, etc.)

Start with ensuring you have a designated budget in mind for any mobile initiatives you would like to achieve. Planners are able to work on a scalable spend, so start with running a few pilot programs. This way you can really get to know exactly where your impressions are appearing, how your audience adapts to mobile, and exactly which publisher provided the most effective traffic. Then, you can start to figure out where you should be focusing majority of your budget.

It is important to make sure all websites that are linked to materials are also mobile optimized, so the physicians can read with ease on a smartphone. Studies show that users are likely to abandon a site much quicker if the page takes longer to load or if it is not properly optimized to their handheld device (eMarketer, 2015).

Also, a happy mix of both targeted and broad mobile and desktop campaigns are sure to maximize the attention of the HCP – when the HCP is exposed to your brand’s message, this will ultimately lead to retention of that message. This is the goal for many brands overall when dealing with a digital campaign.

Since over half of HCPs are using mobile daily to access information, it is imperative to distinguish the significance of considering mobile for your non-personal promotion tactics. Mobile personalized campaigns/mobile optimized content can increase revenue for your brand, and executing even a few of these fixes or best practices will get your brand in a better place.