Balancing the Art and Science of Advertising


To the general consumer, the thought of advertising may elicit thoughts of uniquely designed print ads and Super Bowl commercials; thoughts of creative minds with the ability to persuade consumer decisions. For some people, advertising seems to be a strictly artistic discipline when all one sees is the final creative product. In truth, the art and science of advertising need to be blended together in order to maximize marketing campaign results. 

“The solution to capturing consumers of tomorrow, or today as many would argue, comes down to a sophisticated blend of art and science.”

– Paul Robson, President International at Adobe

On one end of the spectrum we have science, the known and the unknown, for the analytical and curious minds looking to uncover unique insights and trends. At the other end lies art, a subjective and ever-changing expression of unique thoughts and imagination in which there is truly never a right or wrong. There are a variety of perspectives on what the core of advertising is, when realistically both science and art’s synergy are central to achieving sustainable, successful strategy and activation. 

Why you need both art and science to build a brand

With art being highly visible and science working behind the scenes, both pillars are needed to build the foundation for a brand. Our President, Sean Cotton, recently said that data is best used as a guide to craft engaging campaigns inspired by the numbers, keeping creative at the forefront while ensuring it is impactful with analytics. Sometimes this synergy is rather simple, when you are working with a full-service agency that puts all the pieces together in-house. But, it is often more effective to work with separate creative and performance media agencies that collaborate toward a common goal. As long as both sides of the advertising equation are communicating and prioritizing business outcomes, the brand will be set up for success.

How to optimize creative with data insights

At Coegi, we are the science fueling the art. We dig deeper into the what’s, why’s, and how’s of digital media through robust data analysis and industry research. The basis for our campaigns is research and analysis of our brands’ audiences. Then, we rely on machine learning and human intuition to optimize. However, when it comes to strategy, it all really starts with the measurement framework.  This ensures we can understand if the research and thinking we put into action is actually impacting the brand’s bottom line. As a result, this process is not completely devoid of art. In fact, around 75% of an ad’s impact can be attributed to quality creative.

However, great creative pieces need data-driven insights to be delivered to the right audience at the right time. Our teams have to get creative with how and where we reach audiences to make the greatest impact. By doing so, we can better deliver solutions that make the art work harder, thus building up ROI. In essence, our strategy is our art.

At the end of the day, effective collaboration is at the core of the art and science of performance advertising. Communication and transparency between departments and our partners offers balance, allowing for seamless work processes and better results for clients. When this is done well, the lines between art and science begin to blur – proving that advertising isn’t black and white. It’s the molding of colors as the science and art of an agency work together to create a balanced composition paving the way for brand growth.

“The purpose of marketing is to influence the behaviors of others to bring them closer to your brand, organization, product, or service. The best way to achieve it is to strike a balance between the hard data and evidence that support the best path to take, and the human appeal and creative approach necessary to solidify its impact.”

– Eminent SEO CEO, Jenny Stradling



Reaching Your Audience Through Television

Television has long been a desirable medium for brands to have extensive reach across their audiences, building awareness and increasing share of voice. It continues to be very powerful with over 245M TV viewers in the U.S. who watch live or recorded video on a set. However, the TV landscape has seen many shifts in the last few years in particular, as consumers share their time between linear and streaming services, in addition to other forms of digital video on social platforms.

Today, there are over 213M connected TV viewers in the U.S., and it’s poised to continuously grow to over 230M ahead of 2025. As a result, marketers need to be planning their television buys with a holistic approach, understanding that the only way to have comprehensive audience reach is to tap into both linear and connected television channels and using a measurement partner to understand impact and incrementality. 

Why Neither Linear Nor Connected Television Can Be Ignored

According to The Trade Desk’s “Future of TV” report, 47% of U.S. TV viewers are already cordless and another 42% plan to “cut the cord” or minimize traditional television spend within the year. That being said, the scale that continues to be achievable on linear definitely makes it a channel that should continue to be leveraged. There are always going to be some consumers who choose to exclusively view on linear, as well as consumers who exclusively use streaming. This means that both channels must be incorporated into media plans to ensure you are reaching your target audience in a non-skippable environment where your brand message is showcased.

Another major reason that brands who have traditionally used linear television are now looking more heavily into connected tv is due to the incrementality. In fact, according to eMarketer this is the second most common reason that this tactic is deployed apart from targeting capabilities. This approach has worked well for many brands, including Hershey who saw the consumer trends and understood the need to act. This extends beyond Amazon to other OTT/CTV like Hulu, Roku, Tubi, Discovery+, and more.

How to Evaluate Success on Cross-Channel TV

There are measurement partners in the space that are able to go beyond number of impressions or gross ratings points to understand how television advertisements are impacting the bottom line. This can be achieved through tools such as lift studies that can interpret lift overall brand awareness and as well lift in conversions, whether that is site visitation or actual purchases. In the world of the pending deprecation of third-party cookies and iOS 15, attributing business results to media channels is going to become more challenging. Fortunately, television is not dependent on cookies and is poised to become an even more valuable channel for marketers to lean into.

Best Practices for Targeting in Pharmaceutical Campaigns

Who makes the rules?

In 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was passed to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without consent. When it comes to understanding HIPAA for uses of health information for advertising, there’s lots of room for interpretation leaving advertisers unsure if certain marketing capabilities are compliant and ethical. This especially holds true for pharmaceutical advertisers using health information to target audiences for prescription drugs, medical devices and other pharmaceutical brands through media. To provide an industry standard and best practices, there are committees devoted to providing this direction to advertisers like the National Advertising Initiative (NAI), the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) and others. 

One of the leading bodies in defining the regulations for digital advertising is the NAI. Founded in 2000, the NAI published a set of code for advertisers to abide by that is supported by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. The most recent revisions to the code enables advertisers to reference media targeting best practices according to the NAI, including a definition for Sensitive Health Information to provide pharmaceutical advertisers with more concrete direction.

How do regulations affect healthcare targeting?

The first step in determining targeting capabilities for your brand is to understand if the brand falls under the ‘sensitive’ category. According to the NAI, there are two subsets of sensitive information: 

  1. Data about a health condition or treatment derived from a sensitive source 
  2. Data about certain sensitive conditions regardless of the source of the data

Determining whether a health condition is considered ‘sensitive’ is unclear in the industry. The NAI provides only a few categories that define as sensitive which include drug addiction, sexually transmitted diseases, mental health, pregnancy termination, and all conditions predominantly affecting or associated with children not treated by OTC and Cancer.

There are resources to help guide the analysis of determining whether the brand falls into the sensitive category. The NAI provides a multi-step guidance for members on their best practice to help determine whether any targeting efforts or data segments are considered sensitive.

However, this guidance does not give advertisers a clear list of the targeting capabilities that are compliant. Coegi recommends to use the guide to help drive direct conversations with the client in coming to a mutual agreement on whether the brand falls into either the sensitive or non-sensitive category to influence targeting solutions that are compliant. 

Because there is no clear list provided by any regulatory source, Coegi recommends working with the client to align on the brand’s definition of sensitivity as this will greatly affect compliant targeting capabilities. 

The Trade Desk (a member of the NAI) also takes precautions and has implemented a healthcare policy to ensure all targeting efforts are safe. Because there is no official, comprehensive list from the NAI to deem health conditions sensitive or non-sensitive, The Trade Desk has its own process in defining whether a condition is deemed high, medium or low in the sensitive category to see what targeting capabilities are permitted for each brand. This policy uses a multi-factor analysis to take into account many considerations when calculating each condition’s category. 

Other advertising platforms have similar protocols for brands in the healthcare space. Before running paid ads through Facebook, advertisers must apply for permission according to its Promotion of Prescription Drugs policy and first gain approval from Facebook.

How to Approach Targeting a Pharmaceutical Audience

Once alignment on whether the brand falls into either the sensitive or non-sensitive condition category is achieved, below are the different ways to target both consumers and HCPs within the pharmaceutical vertical: 

Healthcare Consumer Targeting

Behavioral Targeting

  • This form of targeting is typically not a compliant way to reach a consumer given it’s ‘data about a health condition or treatment’. However, there are third party data providers that use de-identified information which is considered compliant according to the NAI. 
  • It is critical to understand how the data is being collected if using any third parties to reach a patient audience. Coegi will always do a detailed analysis to determine whether a data provider is compliant according to industry best practices. 
  • From a blog post by Yeehooi Tee of PulsePoint, not all audience models are created the same and there are key factors to understand when evaluating health data segments. These factors include the source of the seed data, the attributes used to model the data, understanding the seed to output ratio and among many other factors. 

Contextual Targeting

  • There are no known regulations for using contextual targeting for a consumer audience. This is a popular approach in reaching a patient and caregiver audience in a compliant manner. 


  • For both sensitive and non-sensitive conditions, geo-targeting a consumer audience is not compliant. According to the NAI, unless the user’s opt-in consent is given to target by precise location data (like a health care provider’s office), this form of targeting falls outside of best practice.  
  • While using precise location data requires opt-in, there are other forms of targeting that could reach a patient audience using geographic data. This data would need to be further vetted to ensure it’s not precise location data. 


  • According to the 2020 code, retargeting is a form of Tailored Advertising. For sensitive health segments, an opt-in consent is required from users in order to retarget a consumer audience. 
  • Even for other non-sensitive health segments, Coegi still recommends having a conversation with the brand team to gain alignment prior to executing this form of targeting.

Healthcare Provider Targeting

Because you’re targeting by profession, there are fewer restrictions when trying to target a HCP audience (while still using de-identified information). It’s an industry norm that an audience-first approach in reaching HCPs is best practice and compliant. 

Various forms of audience targeting for HCPs can include: 

  • Dx Targeting – ICD-10 code for specific diagnosis 
  • Rx Targeting – prescription code for specific drugs  
  • Specialty Targeting – target HCPs by specific medical specialty
  • List Match Targeting – target HCPs by specific NPI number

Depending on a particular client’s goals, Coegi will provide a recommended targeting strategy to reach a HCP audience 

However, even with it being less restricted, Coegi still recommends investigating and understanding the source of the data segments associated with NPIs and still having a conversation with the brand team to gain alignment on certain targeting efforts especially forms of retargeting.


Interested in learning more about pharmaceutical marketing best practices? View our white paper to learn more on targeting patients and providers with best-in-class digital tactics.

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