Blog Post

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

07/26/2022 - Sierra Ducey

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.

Like what you see? Join the 500+ clients that have partnered with Digilant.