Ready or Not, Here They Come: The Arrival of Ads on Top-Tier Streaming

In years past, streaming services differentiated themselves from linear TV providers by allowing customers to purchase premium access as a way to avoid ads while watching TV. When these platforms first burst onto the scene, most consumers maintained their cable subscriptions and added one or two streaming services to the mix. Now, the scale has tipped the other way: more U.S. consumers rely on streaming services than cable. In light of these consumer changes, the ad-free platforms appear to be an idea of the past, as such platforms are facing a harsh reality that to maintain competitiveness in an increasingly saturated market time and ensure revenue numbers are reached, they’ll need to incorporate ads sooner rather than later.

The biggest names in streaming, Netflix and Disney+, have recently announced that they’ll start allowing advertisers to place ads within their premium streaming packages. This follows suit with many of the other streaming services — Hulu, Peacock, and HBO Max — that have found great success with ad-based models as well.

Netflix and streaming are nearly synonymous, as Netflix was the first successful platform to emerge when consumer trends began shifting toward streaming. So to see the king of streaming making this change raises some questions and possible concerns. Luckily, the decision to incorporate this ad-based service tier will ultimately benefit all parties involved:

  • Advertisers: Marketers will once again have the opportunity to reach viewers while they consume TV through streaming services, thanks to the creation of new advertising options.
  • Consumers:Consumers have the option to purchase an ad-free tier if they desire, though an ad-based model allows viewers more choice in what they consume and where their money goes.
  • Platforms:An ad-based model is a straightforward way to reestablish a revenue stream for streaming services without making drastic platform changes.

So while the headlines may be jarring, the outlook is not so grim. With more opportunities on the horizon, now is the perfect time for marketers to dip their toes into advertising on streaming platforms. Here’s what you need to know as you begin shifting your budget and business objectives to the different advertising opportunities available across both different platforms and different tiers.

1. Research the ad-supporting streaming services.

Each streaming service has a slightly different subscription pricing structure and approach to paid advertising, so it’s crucial to understand the many options available. For example, Netflix announced in 2022 that it would introduce a lower-priced, ad-supported version in the near future. Hulu already offers different subscription levels, including an ad-supported tier (which 70% of their customers use). Peacock, Pluto, and Tubi are all built to carry ads at a base level, and Amazon Prime, Roku, and HBO Max all have ad-supported services to choose from. Additionally, Disney+ announced in March that it would introduce a lower-price advertising tier as well.

As a marketer, you need to conduct research before choosing which streaming service(s) to invest your advertising budget. The top four platforms collectively earned $3.5 billion in advertising revenue between September 2020 and September 2021. That number will only continue to rise as more and more companies see the value in streaming-based advertising, meaning now is the time to get ahead of the game.

2. Find a digital advertising partner.

This is one of the most effective steps you can take now to future-proof your advertising campaigns. When seeking out a partner, you will want to find a company that has access to premium inventory across different publishers and platforms. This will help eliminate the challenge of navigating the evolving streaming landscape and limited reach and scale.

A good partner will help you target customers while managing your frequency capping and consolidating dashboards. They’ll help you explore solutions such as contextual targeting, device ID, access to premium publishers, inside access to the biggest OTT players, and best-in-breed omnichannel DSP platforms.

3. Invest in automated content recognition.

Consider investing in automated content recognition technology. ACR is an identification technology that recognizes content played on a media device or present in a media file. ACR works when an individual turns on a Wi-Fi-powered device for the first time, and then selects to opt-in to audio and video data collection during setup. The device provider is then able to analyze small fragments of images or sounds from the content being consumed over time.

The tiny samples processed by ACR software are cross-referenced and matched to existing data. This data is then shared with advertisers like you to help better inform ad placement decisions. For instance, you might retarget TV ad viewers or target new users who saw competitors’ TV ads. Using ACR technology allows you to create custom audiences based on observed behavior, ultimately resulting in a better advertising campaign and content tailored for specific consumers.

4. Start small as proof of concept.

You may find it beneficial to shift a smaller “test” portion of your budget toward tiered ad programs to see how to reach your target audience most effectively. If you need a resource to guide you in shifting your budget, this chart can help you understand strategic budget moves for streaming ads.

Because advertisers can still rely on third-party cookies, the next few months present an opportune environment for marketers like you to test out the water and see whether you are ready to dive into a new advertising medium.

Big changes are coming for streaming service customers and advertisers alike. By capitalizing on the advantages of tier-based advertising and related technology, you can proactively position your brand for success among strategic audiences. The principles of traditional advertising still apply, but streaming technology and digital tracking allow you to hyper-target audiences like never before.

If you’re ready to begin leveraging new opportunities in your marketing mix, contact us to learn more about our robust Advanced TV Solutions here.

3 Ways Healthcare Advertisers can Ditch the Third-Party Cookie Diet

We’re moving into an increasingly cookieless environment. And that means marketers who have long relied on these identifiers to target their audiences have to rethink and get creative to continue to reach their audiences while remaining compliant with their digital advertising campaigns.


Luckily, this isn’t a completely new practice for healthcare and pharma organizations, as they have always had to be extremely careful with sensitive data. The industry is heavily regulated, after all. However, being able to leverage third-party cookies did help provide advertising teams with consumer insights that could be utilized for remarketing and retargeting. With third-party cookies going by the wayside as part of the cookieless future, healthcare marketers will be forced to find innovative ways to remain HIPAA-compliant while still creating personalized experiences with patients.


HIPAA mandates that all healthcare entities safeguard consumers’ personal health information. In other words, marketers must be highly cautious about how they gather and use consumer data — even first-party data. Consider this example. All HIPAA clearly states that to receive and use first-party data, healthcare companies and marketers must obtain written authorization from the consumers. This “opt-in” culture puts the power in the hands of healthcare consumers, which is good. At the same time, it creates an additional hoop for healthcare advertising professionals to jump through.


Take data mining on social media as an example. Gathering publicly available unencrypted data on social sites goes against HIPAA. So does sharing reviews or praises on marketing materials — even if the names are changed. Accordingly, many healthcare advertisers have begun to feel that their hands are tied. The good news is that they’re not. Hope is on the horizon.


Certainly, a cookieless world without third-party cookies isn’t what most marketers want because it requires a major switch in mindset and tactics. Nevertheless, there are several key things healthcare advertisers can do to build customer bases and genuine, long-term relationships based on personalization.


1. Rethink your data sources


Reach for second-party data


Third-party data isn’t the only data on the block. Second-party data can be strategically used in campaigns to ensure healthcare consumers have an individualized experience. The trick is to work with a second-party data source that is 100% HIPAA-compliant.


At Digilant, we vet all second-party and other data providers to make certain they follow strict patient data compliance practices. This is one of the reasons we value our partnership with Lasso, an omnichannel healthcare and pharmaceutical marketing and analytics platform.


Within our partnership, we can plan, activate, and measure healthcare provider and direct-to-consumer targeted campaigns without the worry of compliance violations. Accordingly, we can reach patients prescribed a competitor’s medication through competitor RX conquesting or target consumers while they’re at a certain location using geofencing. Everything happens within the boundaries of HIPAA regulations, making it possible to get traction without the need for third-party cookies.


Build out first-party data


As long as first-party data is ethically obtained, stored, and implemented, it can become the springboard for an exceptional user experience. Plus, with the right strategy and resources, it’s not as difficult to obtain first-party data as one might assume. From mobile apps and websites to surveys and direct mail, healthcare entities have many avenues to glean clean and up-to-date first-party data.


Healthcare advertisers have more connections with consumers and patients than they realize. Just using a solid CRM platform to collect, organize, unify, and utilize first-party data can transform a company’s ability to deploy high-ROI digital advertising campaigns.


2. Lean into contextual targeting.


Contextual targeting is one of the best tools advertisers have in a cookieless environment. The beauty of contextual targeting is that it allows marketers to reach audiences by targeting ads based on the context in which that ad will be placed.


Here’s how contextual targeting can create alignment across audiences, content, and ad placements: First, an ad is written and published. AI-fueled crawlers then “read” and learn the context of the ad. When a consumer searches for a similar topic, the ad appears right away. As such, the consumer gets vital information immediately.


Though contextual targeting wasn’t always a surefire curated experience, it’s dramatically improved in recent years thanks to technological advancements and machine learning. Gone are the days of misplacing an ad due to a mistake in understanding a word or phrase. Today, contextual targeting is a winning workaround instead of relying on third-party cookies.


3. Maintain robust relationships with current patients.


A final tip to master a cookieless future is to develop stronger connections with active patients. Current patients can be a great resource and they may even serve as means to grow a healthcare brand through their sharing of awareness campaigns or providing referrals.


Even patients who aren’t actively in need of healthcare should be a focus. Regularly check in and follow up when it makes sense. Sending them surveys can help them stay in the fold, too. In some cases, healthcare organizations may even want to implement loyalty, rewards, or patient appreciation programs. Any form of outreach that maintains necessary levels of data privacy in advertising can keep communications channels open and patients more satisfied.


Deploying cookieless digital advertising is going to be necessary soon, and healthcare advertisers should start planning accordingly. Although the prospect might seem overwhelming, it won’t be long before providers, systems, and marketers realize that advertising without cookies is just as full of potential and opportunity as before. The future is bright.


If you want to learn more about healthcare advertising in the cookieless future, we’re here to help! Get in touch today.

3 Ways to Practice Good Storytelling in Healthcare Advertising

The biggest mistake healthcare advertising campaigns make is being too clinical. While the subject matter may require a certain formality, a cautious tone, and unglamorous language, that doesn’t mean that storytelling in healthcare has to feel like a doctor’s waiting room. In fact, the success of healthcare advertising may rest on our ability to transcend the clinic to share a compelling narrative.

What Mistakes Do Healthcare Advertisers Make?

Advertisers often experience tunnel vision when handling healthcare topics. They sometimes focus on the wrong things, getting stuck in the weeds of the product and its features, rather than trying to build relationships with potential patients. While it may be tempting to highlight new achievements, technology, products, or services at your organization, your storytelling needs to center on the person with the problem.

Because advertisers get stuck in the weeds, they risk overexplaining and becoming too long-winded in their messaging. Today’s consumers are bombarded with ads, and their attention spans are fleeting — with healthcare as with any topic, an ad has only a few seconds to make an impression. For this reason, advertisers also need to be careful that they’re getting their messages to the right audience segments.

What Makes Storytelling Effective in a Healthcare Setting?

Humans have always relied on storytelling to pass down information. It’s rooted deeply in our nature to want to listen to a good story — so much so that we still retain 70% more information when it comes to us via storytelling rather than statistics alone.

This fact is incredibly important for healthcare advertising campaigns. In the world of healthcare marketing, many organizations rely on facts or statistics to win the trust of patients. But what many marketers miss is that an emotional connection may mean the difference between someone becoming a loyal patient and turning elsewhere for treatment.

That doesn’t mean that a healthcare story needs to avoid necessary facts and information that showcase the benefits and prestige of your organization. But even the stuffiest data can be presented in a way that raises awareness, shows empathy for a problem, and inspires action in the end.

The key ingredients of a good story in a healthcare ad? You’re looking to show authenticity and consistency. Patients seek genuine information and care; they won’t stand for anything less. And a personal, human angle is best. Patients do not appreciate being treated as points on a graph.

A good healthcare story will always answer the question: What makes you unique? Consumers no longer have to rely on the organizations in their area. They have the power to do their research and shop around. This makes it even more essential to ensure that your organization stands out from the competition.

3 Ways for Healthcare Advertisers to Implement These Practices

Healthcare and pharma digital advertising can run the gamut from boring to alarming, but the sweet spot is to tell a relatable, authentic story — one that makes a potential patient sit up and listen, and then breathe a sigh of relief. Here’s how it works in practice:

1. Ideate before you narrate.

Effective storytelling in healthcare starts with determining what you need from your story. What could you highlight that will be of interest to your consumers? Is there a particular challenge or situation that your audience is struggling with? Could you turn this problem into a scene, testimonial, or narrative? Make sure that at this stage you consider what will resonate with your particular audience. Don’t talk about pregnancy woes to elderly men.

2. Choose the perfect format for your story.

Your audience will spend more time with certain advertising channels, and certain stories will better suit different formats. For example, an in-depth client story may be best suited for a video ad, but a portion of that story via a quote could work well in a display ad. How can you use different formats to best convey your message? How will you retarget consumers across different channels to continue to move them down the funnel?

3. Reaffirm your message.

Before you get ready to launch an ad campaign, it’s important to check your stories against your central ideals and values: Does the content, tone, and language speak to the essence of your organization? Is this how you want patients to see you? Authenticity and honesty may be two of the most important aspect of storytelling in healthcare and pharma marketing, so it’s never a bad idea to check, double-check, and maybe even ask for a second opinion before going live.

How Can Digilant Help?

The key to good storytelling is knowing who your audience is and where they’re at in their customer journey. At Digilant, our approach starts with consumer research to define target audiences, which allows us to develop an integrated marketing strategy and sets the stage for measurable performance.

Are you interested in learning more about bolstering your healthcare advertising with storytelling? Get in touch today!

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