People searching for health-related information online is up 62%, amounting to about 93 million Americans and 80% of internet users. Is your healthcare institution meeting them where they are and providing them with the information they want? Here’s how digital advertising for healthcare can help you succeed.

Hospital advertising has become much more competitive over recent years and digital marketing is a strong avenue to pursue to stay competitive in this landscape. A whitepaper from Kantar Media on Healthcare Advertising argues that as insurance plans have pushed more of the costs of coverage onto subscribers, they have become more incentivized to shop around for healthcare which has resulted in a more competitive environment for hospitals at the consumer level. In years prior to this shift, hospitals relied on physicians to refer patients where now consumers have the ability and incentive to make those decisions. Therefore, hospitals need to reach these consumers with targeted messaging to be able to compete and thrive in this environment; a perfect argument for digital advertising for healthcare.

The what and the why

Digital advertising includes; social media, paid search, mobile and online video, and multiple other tactics. Major healthcare institutions have adjusted their paid media mix and are continually investing larger percentages of their advertising budgets into digital advertising. Targeted online display advertising has the most cost-effective CPM and is one of many digital advertising tactics that can work in tandem with traditional media tactics to garner brand awareness and facilitate the patient’s journey to find the care that suits their needs. In 2011 major hospitals spent around 14% of their advertising budgets on digital advertising and by 2015 this allocation had jumped to 21%. It is reasonable to assume this percentage has continued experiencing continued growth into 2019.

Digital advertising can target specific population segments, facilitate the pursuit of health information, and it can also connect people to the digital offerings that hospitals have begun to incorporate over recent years. As hospitals begin adopting more technology such as electronic medical records, digital appointment booking, and capacity to connect patients with providers digitally – there will be further validation of digital advertising in how it ties into the interconnectedness of the growing quantity of digital healthcare offerings that can facilitate the patient journey to receiving care.

Don’t forget the rest of the mix

Digital advertising is an important arrow in the quiver of paid media advertising but it is not the only avenue to pursue. The aforementioned Kantar Media Healthcare whitepaper provides data that shows TV still rules the lion’s share of hospital advertising budgets and that those budgets continue to grow. Digital advertising enhances the effectiveness of traditional media channels – adding online increases the ROI of all paid media. Utilizing a strategic mix of tactics based on your target audience, budget, goals, and competition is vital to continued growth in the ever-changing healthcare industry.

Key takeaways of digital advertising for healthcare

Paid Media is strategic and cannot be reduced to a simple catch-all formula that can divvy up media budgets into respective tactics. Identifying the target audiences, media market realities, and strategic goals for each institution’s unique situation remains the foundation of paid media strategy development. In addition, understanding industry trends and supporting data can enhance efficiency and help inform media strategies to best optimize the available resources to help support strategic goals, build brand awareness, and facilitate patients’ journeys to seeking care from your healthcare institution.


This post was originally published in June 2018.