Digital Guide to Navigating Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Marketing

Healthcare and pharmaceutical marketing is a complex landscape. A long-standing emphasis on in-person rep sales and difficult to navigate privacy laws have made the industry slower to adopt new marketing technologies and trends relative to other industries. 

This guide aims to debunk the uncertainty surrounding healthcare and pharmaceutical marketing best practices and provide a clear roadmap to creating a best-in-class digital strategy for your brand or the brands you partner with. 

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5 Steps to Successful Marketing Measurement

Proving full-funnel marketing ROI is one of the greatest challenges for the modern marketer. We’re here to change that. Coegi takes a unique approach to measurement centered around reaching core business objectives. 

Download this guide to unlock our 5 clear steps to successful marketing measurement. Apply these core principles and watch your business transform. Using this approach will allow you to track and communicate meaningful data, no matter how complex your channel strategy may be.

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Understanding Implications of the Cookieless Future

“Businesses and advertising professionals will need to better understand how customers make decisions, what actions are valuable for businesses and bring that all together when showing success.” – Maggie Gotszling

Google’s announcement that Chrome will no longer support cookies as of 2023 has many digital marketers concerned about their future. Marketers that have historically relied on cookies to reach their target audiences and measure success will be greatly affected by this change and many are actively working on the next steps to avoid campaign performance declines. The actions taken by marketers in this pre-cookieless environment will help to shape and define the future of targeted advertising and performance metrics. 

Why are cookies important and how do they work?

Cookies are a backend line of code on a website that helps advertisers track a user’s behavior across the internet and includes 3rd party tracking pixels from platforms such as Facebook. The tracking of these activities makes it possible for advertisers to effectively deliver ads to their target audiences and directly measure and attribute conversions. With the deprecation of cookies, that tracking will no longer be viable, effectively blinding some targeting and measurement capabilities on which many marketers currently rely.  

What does it mean for campaign targeting strategies?

The major impact will be on retargeting third-party cookie-based audiences. It is recommended that advertisers begin shifting overreliance on this tactic and begin testing alternative targeting options to fill the gaps. Gathering first and second-party data (which is owned by publishers) will be central to an effective digital market strategy in a post-cookie environment. Additionally, the use of contextual targeting does not rely on cookies and provides brands with a strong opportunity to be able to generate increased brand awareness when done strategically. As an additional benefit, the cost of contextual advertising tends to be substantially lower than addressable impressions as data is not layered on, though costs are impacted by whether the tactic is targeted through a whitelist or contracted with a private marketplace deal.

Definitions and tips for collecting zero, first, and second party data

Zero party data: Coined by Forrester, Zero-Party data is collected when “a customer intentionally and proactively shares with a brand. It can include preference center data, purchase intentions, personal context, and how the individual wants the brand to recognize [them].” 

How to collect Zero Party Data:

  • Surveys
  • Polls

Tip: Don’t ask for too much too often and create poll fatigue on the consumer.

First party data: Observed behaviors of users who interact with your company. 

How to collect first party data: 

Form submissions or other forms of contact sharing on

  • Mobile apps 
  • Websites 
  • Social media 
  • SMS 
  • Email
  • Customer service platforms
  • Point of purchase

Second party data: Second Party Data is First Party Data collected by one company that they privately share with another company. For instance, when a publisher allows another company to use their CRM data to reach a target audience that overlaps with their own. An example of this would be if a brand were to work with Drizly, an online alcohol retailer, to reach their target audience of active digital alcohol shoppers. 

“Brands need to reestablish expectations for programmatic and be open to experiment with alternative targeting and measurement solutions. Ideally, this will happen in 2022 while we still have access to data that is likely to be lost.” – Savannah Westbrock

What impacts will we see on measurement?

Cookies have been the underpinning for most digital marketing performance measurements for over twenty years, including post-click and post-view conversions and attribution for sales impact. For example, the Facebook ecosystem will be heavily disrupted in attribution of conversion-based events, largely due to their reliance on mobile ad IDs for measurement. Historically, marketers have leaned heavily into Facebook and other walled garden environments due to their ability to evaluate strength ROI based on the multiple touchpoints that go into a final purchase, facilitated by the placement of a tracking pixel on the brand’s website. 

However, these walled garden pixels are defined as a third party cookie and will be limited in their ability to pass back data once the elimination of the cookie is mobilized. As a whole, we can expect  campaign performance on the front end to decline as compared to previous years, even if the backend business performance remains the same. Brands and teams should start to plan for shifts in attribution and performance as we get closer to the 2023 depreciation.

Fortunately, there are potential workarounds. For example, brands can overlay their conversion-based data found on Google analytics to match up on site conversion with Facebook mobile IDs after the fact. This helps level media metrics back up to business goals, but requires more analysis and less “real-time” results. Tests and conversations in 2021 can prepare in advance for performance declines and reduce a sense of panic. 

Post-cookie ID-based solutions for targeting and measurement

There are also multiple cookie alternatives in development that promise to bridge the addressability gap that will be created when cookies are deprecated. Here are a few of the options currently out there or in development.

Google’s Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC):

Google is working on a solution for targeting that groups internet users into groups, or “cohorts,” based on their browsing behaviors instead of giving each individual their own identifier. Advertisers can then target the group at large based on their shared interests as a whole. There are concerns that while this group-based option solves the privacy problem created by cookies, it will open the door for other privacy issues and could also lead to discriminatory, behavioral-based targeting. 

Standard Universal IDs: 

Originally used as a way to combat mismatched data when syncing cookie data across domains, companies like The Trade Desk, LiveRamp, and IAB have developed what are known as Universal IDs. This standardized identifier allows advertisers to buy into a community of shared data to track audience activity across the internet. The primary concern with Universal IDs, however, is that they still currently rely on third-party cookies, without which they are unable to set or recognize identifiers across domains. 

Encrypted Universal IDs:

Understanding the original design of Universal IDs would no longer be effective once cookies were depreciated, companies like LiveIntent (nonID) and The Trade Desk (Unified ID 2.0) started developing encrypted identifiers using email addresses instead of cookies to track user activity. The primary hurdle with email-based IDs is that they require users to provide and consistently use the same email across websites in order to build an accurate profile. If the user is unwilling to provide that data, or different emails are used for different sites, advertisers will be blind to their activity and be unable to target them accurately.

While all of these solutions have their pros and cons, they are all worth monitoring as they continue to develop as they will be key in building targeting and measurement strategies in 2023 and beyond. 

Recommendations to prepare for the cookieless future

  • Plan early & anticipate impacts to your measurement/attribution system. We encourage everyone to have conversations with their clients and agencies to set expectations ahead of time. We’ve outlined a quarterly look at the impact across audiences, e-comm/attribution as well as media mix & creative. 
  • Benchmark your current performance: You can start modeling the impact of third-party cookie blocking by recording your current analytic metrics and monitoring them as the update takes effect. Establishing benchmarks by operating system and browser will enable you to calculate most accurately the potential impact.
  • Apply business intelligence models to your analytics: Predictive analytics can be used along with your data to provide deeper insights for the best performing marketing tactics and identify macro and micro trends that influence your business outcomes.
  • Consolidate media activation to as few platforms as possible: Platforms are developing their own internal frameworks to accurately track and measure marketing performance outside of third-party trackers. The more platforms you execute your media through the more disparate measurement systems you have to take into consideration. There is also the likelihood that you will have duplication across platforms and consolidation will reduce that occurrence. 
  • Expand implementation timelines: Relying on first party data more and needing to run that first party data through an identity solution and then back into a web environment will add time to campaign and ad ops setups. While match rates should improve, campaigns will be moderately more cumbersome to set up, especially as we get used to these new flows. Teams and clients should build in extra cushion.
  • Create new relationships with third-party, cookieless data providers: This is not a new risk in the ad operations system, but an ever present risk that doesn’t go away under a new system. Fortunately, these companies benefit from interoperability and scale. The most important thing brands can do to reduce dependencies is to understand how your audiences and targets are built in each platform and know what’s different depending on the partner. Always ask what’s inside the box or model.

“Brands who have been targeting super-niche audiences will have to reestablish expectations for programmatic and be open to experiment with alternative targeting and measurement solutions. Ideally, this will happen in 2022 while we still have access to data that is likely to be lost.” – Colin Duft

Measure What Matters

One of my long-standing mantras at Coegi is ‘Measure What Matters’.

So when the ANA released a report entitled ‘Media KPIs That Matter’, I was more than a little intrigued.  What the report found won’t surprise too many of us that work in performance marketing: most brands focus on KPIs that don’t really align with their business objectives.  

So why is this?  For starters, there is a lot of pressure for digital campaigns to be ‘data driven’.  I bet if the ANA asked if their members organizations are data driven, 100% would say yes.  The challenge is that there is too much data for the decision makers to truly understand. For marketing veterans that came from creative or PR backgrounds (that weren’t exposed to digital media buying earlier in their careers), it is challenging to grade the effectiveness of an omni-channel digital marketing.   Thus, they lean on the stats they feel most comfortable with: CPM, CPC and CTR.  Website traffic, reach and completion rates.  What we have longed referred to at Coegi as vanity metrics. To be fair, media efficiency should be a factor, but far less than many brands think. As my friends at The Trade Desk say, you can’t report on CTR on an earnings call.  

So what about ROAS then? Isn’t that the magic metric we should all be optimizing to anyways?  It should be in theory, but in practice, it all depends on attribution.  Is 100% of the conversion credit going to the last touch or last impression?  There are very few digital programs that are even attempting multi-touch attribution, and those that try are stymied by walled gardens that don’t share a unified measurement framework.  ROAS numbers are only as accurate as the data you use to analyze it, and too often there is more noise than signal in last-touch attribution.  Recent changes to app tracking on Apple phones and the impending elimination of third-party cookies on Google Chrome make attribution all the more challenging.

So what about the agencies?  Isn’t it their job to advise their clients as to the metrics they should be measuring?   Certainly many performance strategists are pushing to move towards more meaningful measurement, but it often involves a lot more institutional buy-in at the brand that you would expect.  Advocating an advanced measurement framework at the end of a proposal just isn’t going to cut it.  Often, you not only have to educate the marketing team, but the C-suite, product and sales teams as well.  

So what is the path forward for marketers trying to determine their media KPIs?  From my perspective, there is no singular KPI that defines success for any digital marketing campaign.  Instead, we should build custom measurement frameworks across multiple KPIs, that incorporate not just media efficiency metrics, but also engagement, brand lift, transactional data, and ROAS analysis, to get a better understanding of your digital program as a whole. Furthermore, it can be worthwhile to revisit the more academic and statistical forms of analysis, such as media mix modeling, matched market tests, and regression analysis, to get to the heart of success. 

 

How to Act on Analytics with Data Storytelling

Turning data into stories transforms brands. Take an inside look at how Coegi takes data from our custom dashboards and crafts a story with actionable recommendations for our clients by finding the human element in the numbers.

As marketers, we now have access to vast amounts of data. There’s been a major influx of analyst jobs in the last several years as companies scramble to sift through it all.  But are we telling compelling stories with that data and adjusting our strategies based on the insights? If not, what’s the point? The true value in data lies in how we use key insights to take informed actions for businesses.

Here are four steps you can use to set up that process within your organization.

Gather: Set up a measurement framework to capture metrics that matter most

First, set performance KPIs that ladder up to your business goals. For more information on how to do this, feel free to reference our Measurement Playbook. Then, prepare a learning agenda to determine the types of qualitative and quantitative information you are looking to understand from your campaign.

Are there hypotheses you want to validate? Assumptions you want to challenge? Audience learnings you want to gather? Use the agenda to help answer these questions.

Learn: Capture and visualize data to pull key insights

Once the campaign is running, you begin to gather data: this is your “what.” Now, it’s up to you and your media partners to uncover the “why.” Look at the underlying narrative running through your data to build a meaningful story arc.

A great way to do this is by visualizing the data in a way that allows you to easily identify trends and understand performance relative to goals. Consider layering campaign data with third party data to see a holistic picture and identify outliers or interesting correlations. Looking at the data from a macro lens helps weave the micro data points into a cohesive story that will not only make sense to marketers but also external team members like the sales team or the executive suite.

We often talk about blending art and science in our marketing strategies – that same concept applies to data analytics. When communicating results to internal stakeholders, qualitative information with direction from quantitative data often speaks volumes for CFOs and board members, but only if you tell the right story. You want to layer in context, feeling and understanding – the human emotion and behavior will amplify the data you’ve collected. Knowing the audience and tailoring your story to their unique context and point of view will help ensure the information resonates.

Brent Dykes, author of ‘Effective Data Storytelling’, says “Your data may hold tremendous amounts of potential value, but not an ounce of value can be created unless insights are uncovered and translated into actions or business outcomes”. This leads us into the next step: application.

"Your data may hold tremendous amounts of potential value, but not an ounce of v alue can be created unless insights are uncovered and translated into actions or business outcomes"

 

Apply: Transform insights into actionable strategies, and repeat. 

Your data story provides an opportunity to connect the dots between various media spend across channels and show how they work together to reach your customer when and where it mattered. If done right, it will also show areas that didn’t succeed. Those failures can guide new messaging or creative on particular channels, or the adjustment of certain tactics and spend reallocation. Additionally, it should highlight any gaps between customer touch points and eventual conversion or retention. Lay out clear actionable steps based on analytic insights to transform digital marketing strategies and take your data to the next level.

Refine and Repeat

Marketers create an infinite cycle of improvement through this data feedback loop. The digital ecosystem is constantly in flux. New platforms, privacy laws, consumer behavior and more, creating twists and turns in the media landscape. This process is never perfect, but by using performance marketing data to tell your brand story, you can ensure it is always evolving and being refined. This practice minimizes media waste and allows marketers to make more informed decisions and craft winning strategies.

“Numbers have an important story to tell. They rely on you to give them a clear and convincing voice.” – Stephen Few

If you need help finding the story in your data, Coegi is here to help. Set up a discovery call with our team to explore opportunities for your brand.

When Does Advanced Measurement Make Sense?

Here at Coegi, measurement is at the center of everything we do. We listen to our clients’ challenges, objectives, and aspirations to understand what success looks like and build a media measurement framework that can help us better understand how we are progressing toward achieving those goals. Sometimes this is as simple as defining KPIs and optimization points based on media metrics; however, there are some instances where media metrics alone won’t be able to answer the brand’s questions. In these instances, it may be necessary to consider other advanced measurement strategies. 

When Should You Consider Advanced Measurement?

If your client’s goals are not able to be answered by traditional media metrics, then it is important to consider advanced measurement opportunities. Some examples of these questions include:

  • Did my brand have an increase in unaided brand awareness?
  • Did my retail locations gain incremental visits from the campaign?
  • Has my brand had an increase in market share as a result of the media running?

In these situations, reporting back on metrics such as reach and frequency, cost per click, and video completion rate won’t offer the business intel the client is looking for. 

Are There Barriers to Entry with Advanced Measurement?

It’s important to consider campaign budgets when deciding whether advanced measurement studies are the best solution. Each measurement partner has a unique pricing structure that may at times be cost prohibitive. Additionally, some measurement partners require impression volume or retail location minimums in order to run the study and ensure feasibility or statistical significance. Advanced measurement studies also tend to take several weeks to get up and running, which may cause concerns when there is a timeliness factor to the campaign. It’s important to set expectations and plan early when advanced measurement is likely to come into play. Finally, it’s important to identify which channels you are wanting to analyze, and keep in mind that walled gardens like Facebook and Google will require different solutions than other programmatic DSPs that allow for cross-channel measurement.

What Kinds of Advanced Measurement Studies are Common?

When selecting advanced measurement studies, it is important to once again think back to the client’s desired business outcomes. For those who are looking to understand growth in higher level outcomes such as awareness and consideration, a brand lift study likely makes the most sense. When wanting to understand incremental store visitation for large scale retail brands, a foot traffic study can help reinforce directional success. If sales and understanding of growth to the company’s bottom line are critical, then a sales lift study will likely be identified as a solution. 

When strategizing media campaigns, it’s important to measure what matters to your client. In situations where front-facing media metrics aren’t enough, it’s important to weigh your options to understand your campaign impact on meaningful business outcomes.If you are interested in running a campaign with advanced measurement solutions, reach out to your partners at Coegi.

Why Measurement is Important in a Cookieless Environment

Here at Coegi, measurement is at the center of everything we do. We listen to our clients’ challenges, objectives, and aspirations to understand what success looks like and build a media measurement framework that can help us better understand how we are progressing toward achieving those goals. Sometimes this is as simple as defining KPIs and optimization points based on media metrics; however, there are some instances where media metrics alone won’t be able to answer the brand’s questions. In these instances, it may be necessary to consider other advanced measurement strategies. 

Why Walled Gardens Will (and Won’t) Be More Critical in the Future

Here at Coegi, measurement is at the center of everything we do. We listen to our clients’ challenges, objectives, and aspirations to understand what success looks like and build a media measurement framework that can help us better understand how we are progressing toward achieving those goals. Sometimes this is as simple as defining KPIs and optimization points based on media metrics; however, there are some instances where media metrics alone won’t be able to answer the brand’s questions. In these instances, it may be necessary to consider other advanced measurement strategies. 

So what does this mean?

At present, our suggestion is to lean into walled gardens for precise audience targeting, but to begin measuring success of your advertising program at a higher level.  Some examples of this include matched market tests, media mix modeling, control vs. exposed methodologies.  While this will make it more challenging to know which 50% of your marketing spend is effective, it’s the best solution given the reduction of transparency in algorithmic data and therefore less understanding of success from a conversion data standpoint. But, this will also force marketers to start looking at the data as a whole and get away from optimizing towards last-click and last-touch metrics which have provided misleading signals for years.

Regarding adjustments needed to measurement, advertising campaigns need to set-up to achieve business goals rather than just media metric KPIs.  To achieve this, individual channels and tactics will need to identify leading indicators, perhaps higher in the funnel, to optimize toward.  Engagement rates, reach, completion rate, and measures of media effectiveness like CPM/CPC should become more of a focus rather than CPAs. Fortunately, programmatic platforms are poised to bring marketers success with this measurement approach, and will be able to optimize against important cost and engagement metrics rather than directional conversion-level data.

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