Data Privacy in Healthcare Campaigns

Maintaining Data Privacy in Healthcare Campaigns is a complicated and nuanced feat. It is helpful to understand how we arrived at this point where, in some cases, technology initially outpaced regulations and where that leaves marketers in guiding healthcare clients.

I have had the unique experience of intimately seeing many sides of data privacy as it relates to healthcare. As a patient, in my previous life as a Registered Nurse and now, as a media professional running healthcare campaigns. But how did we get to this point? 

As computers took hold of our daily lives and social media was on its meteoric rise, the Federal Government recognized the need for healthcare to also make the digital leap in the name of improved patient outcomes and increased efficiency. The plan? To shift all paper medical records to electronic medical records. 

No easy feat, in 2009, the Federal Government wrote the HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) Act and put $27 billion aside to incentivize medical systems and providers to adopt these electronic health record (EHR) systems and designated billions more to help train health information technology (HIT) workers and get hospitals and providers up to speed on these systems. The goal? To bring all of the paper medical charts from endless rows of floor to ceiling shelves in hospital basements into a shared computer system for providers to improve healthcare and patient outcomes. 

EHRs bring exponential benefits such as greatly reducing drug interaction, medication and other errors, lower costs and decreased mortality rates. With a simple release of information, all of a patient’s medical records could be shared with any provider digitally, arming providers with all of the information they need to provide the best care to a patient, even if they are meeting them for the first time.

As a Registered Nurse I was working in hospitals as EHRs were being implemented. Despite my excellent doctor handwriting interpretation (a now obsolete skillset), many times I had to gently remind MDs to put their orders “in the computer” as we all had to work together to get these systems off the ground. There were “super-users” rolling through on “cows” (computer on wheels) at every turn to try and facilitate the adoption of a new way of taking care of patients. We all learned the specific EHR functions for our roles and many of us noted the unfathomable amount of patient data available to us, and wondered how we could put it all to use. The instinct, that we had our fingertips on massive amounts of data and what seemed like endless functionality of EHR systems, was exactly what was happening digitally, everywhere, in every industry. 

Technology was outpacing regulation. 

Meanwhile, while the medical community was focused on employing advances in technology to improve how they worked, so was every other industry including marketers/advertisers. As the whole world transitioned to an electronic/digital model, and the data available was infinite, marketers entered a wild west of sorts, where automation could track and import data for machine learning and lookalike modeling to reach that ‘right person with the right message at the right time’. 

But where was the general public while all of this innovation in technology was happening?

Enchanted by their handheld computer that could do just about everything, (minus the education and transparency of what was happening on the back end of their favorite social media platform or healthcare portal). As we uncover data privacy breaches in real time, such as the June of 2022 class action lawsuit filed against Meta Platforms “for using its Pixel tracking to get patient information from hospital portals for target marketing purposes”, marketers and consumers alike take a pause and at times become fearful of a world where we feel vulnerable in the wake of all of this innovation. 

We all fear that which we don’t understand and thus, the answer is here is education. 

As marketers, we must continually educate ourselves so that we know what questions to ask of partners, play that vital role in educating our healthcare clients, colleagues and consumers at large (when they casually mention it was ‘creepy’ that they were served an ad for a medication after googling related symptoms).

At True Media, in addition to continued, proactive education:

  • We are vigilant in working with only the most respected HIPAA-compliant partners in the healthcare vertical who follow extensive privacy policies that spell out exactly what information can be collected including non-PII vs PII, exactly how that information is collected and how it is used. 
  • Things like contextual targeting, retargeting, and geofencing put clues together to identify a relevant audience. While these methods are data privacy compliant, healthcare clients need to be aware of the user experience that may lead consumers to feel their privacy is being compromised. 
  • We are proactive in asking the right questions about ensuring we are working with “Non-PII” data unless explicit consumer consent was given. When first party data is available, we address how files are handled, and educate our healthcare clients and what is and is not possible in healthcare marketing. 
  • Being the data nerds that we are, we also feel confident to explain to that consumer why they were served that ad for that medication and help them navigate the many points at which they can opt out of tracking across their devices and the web, should that make them feel more comfortable. 

In closing, while centering around the core value that maintaining data privacy in healthcare campaigns is a critical priority, we also recognize the great value for society for the right healthcare message to get to the right person at the right time and the many ways that HIPAA-compliant healthcare data can be a star in the next chapter of healthcare innovation.

Authored by Amy Hess, RN & True Media Senior Client Strategist

Implementing a Full Funnel Strategy

When we think about measurement strategies, especially with a full funnel approach, it’s not always a direct path from plan to implementation. So, what comes next once you’re on board with a full-funnel strategy? It’s not enough to just check the boxes of various funnel stages to make sure you have a presence in each part of the consumer journey, from upper to lower funnel. It’s vital to think through the user experience and how your brand interacts with new, prospective, and existing customers when developing the framework. As you’re working toward a full funnel approach, here are a few things I like to think about during the measurement planning process as it relates to how you’re showing up for users. 

Creative Messaging

Messaging can and should be different for users depending on where they’re at in their journey and their relationship with your brand. It’s a crucial piece of the puzzle to pay attention to the messaging you’re serving to new vs. existing customers. A new customer needs to be exposed to a different experience with advertising than a repeat customer that is already brand loyal. Similarly, creative messaging for retargeting is going to be served to an audience that was already exposed to your previous messaging or took a certain action, so you should speak to them differently with ads that are tailored to a lower funnel conversion that is highly relevant to that user. 

Market Share

Along the same lines of creative messaging, it’s key to understand your brand’s market share if you have a local or regional presence across various markets. You shouldn’t have the same rinse-and-repeat strategy that is a blanket approach across those markets, especially if you’re introducing your brand to new locations. If you hold the highest share among your competitors in certain areas, your channel and measurement strategy should be different from markets that have a lower level of awareness for your brand. Brand awareness studies can be a great way to keep a pulse on this.  

Landing Page Experience

Once you get users to your website, how are they experiencing it? I like to go through my clients’ landing pages from a consumer point of view during the planning process to make sure that experience is seamless. If we’re asking users to fill out a form, but that form is buried five pages deep within the website, you’ll struggle to get conversions. The URL that your ads lead to should be reflective of what you’re asking customers to do in your creative messaging, which will ultimately lead to a positive user experience – a win-win for everyone!

Journeys Are Not Linear

With all this being said, a key consideration of the user journey and developing a full-funnel strategy is that the customer journey is not linear. We often visualize and present the journey as a top to bottom, one-time process, but it’s more of a continuous (and sometimes indirect) path. Customers don’t all behave the same way because no two customers are the same, making things a bit more unpredictable. But this is all the reason to show up for customers no matter what part of the journey they may be in, which is why full-funnel strategies are so beneficial. By casting a wider net at the top of the funnel to promote awareness, you’re priming that audience to hopefully turn into long-term customers.

Take note that this doesn’t necessarily mean that only certain tactics can be used to drive awareness, while others can only drive sales. Any tactic could find a place within any stage of the journey, but a good media partner will use research and past learnings as a foundation to develop a channel and tactical strategy that works best for a given client and campaign, and will know where and how to use certain tactics as part of a full-funnel approach so your paid media is working as hard as it can to achieve your objectives. Everything we do at True Media is rooted in data and research so we’re bringing the best recommendations to the table for our clients, which also means every media plan we develop is different. 

Taking all of the above into consideration, this is why it’s so important that creative teams and media teams work together as early as possible in the planning process. These teams are often thought of as separate entities, but both of these teams should be talking to each other at every step of the way to ensure the process is seamless and that creative and media are cohesive. And when the time comes to report on campaign success and performance, everyone will know what that success ties back to because you’ve had a solid measurement framework in place from the very start.

About the Author

Anna Rice, Client Strategy Supervisor

Anna leads strategy and planning for a variety of clients at True Media to promote innovation and drive business results through integrated marketing campaigns.

Six Questions to Consider for a Strong Measurement Strategy

The old adage goes, “you have to spend money to make money.” But as we all know – an important distinction is that you have to spend money wisely to make money. Not all advertisers spend their money in wise ways. Whether that means not being able to attribute success to their channels and tactics to learn and grow or not having a definition of success in the first place.

This is why a strong measurement strategy is key to both short and long term success. Without a clear measurement strategy in place, you may find yourself looking at your campaign in a year (or sooner) wondering what your dollars got you in the first place while having no meaningful results or learnings to show. No matter what you are trying to achieve, clearly defining your measurement plan will allow you to tackle the challenge and make the best, strategic choices for your campaign and ultimately drive business success.

Our teams don’t just develop media plans, we bring in our full selves everyday to stretch our clients’ dollars as far as they can go to achieve their unique goal. We try to think beyond data and technology to challenge the status quo and build upon previous learnings to continue fine tuning every campaign. Measurement is a topic I am extremely passionate about so when I was asked to share how I start every measurement strategy for this blog series, I couldn’t have been more excited to geek out over it. Below are the key steps I take with every measurement strategy that can help you hone your strategies as well.

  1. What are my business and marketing objectives?

If you don’t know the problem you are looking to solve, there is no way to determine the answer. I always encourage my clients to identify both their business and marketing objectives. It is important to do both, as sometimes they are not the same. Sometimes there are multiple steps needed to achieve a business goal, other times media can’t actually be optimized for a particular objective.

Generally, the business goal represents the way a company brings in revenue and/or a grander vision of how they want to see the world. Marketing goals represent the steps your marketing will take to achieve the ultimate business goal.

For example, a business goal may be to drive YoY growth in sales, but you may have three marketing goals such as driving awareness of the brand, driving consideration of the brand, and ultimately driving first time trials of the brand… Again, while you could just focus on final conversions, it is important to consider the entire user journey and how you build demand for your product or service. Focusing only on lower funnel initiatives may prove fruitful at first, but building a strong brand is key for long term growth. The KPIs and tactics you consider for each of these are completely different, so this is the foundation for a good media plan.

  1. What KPIs

Your KPIs (key performance indicators) should directly connect back to your marketing objectives. If you want to drive website sessions or online actions, looking at impressions or CPM as your KPI doesn’t get to the heart of what you are trying to accomplish. Looking at the wrong KPIs can cause you to make decisions that ultimately hurt your business.

I always ask myself, when it comes to my KPIs, what action do I want them to take next? That answer ultimately should become your KPI for each marketing objective. Some goals can be answered directly by media metrics such as sales, sign-ups, and website metrics, but others may be more nuanced and go beyond what media can measure alone. This may be a time you incorporate or invest in advanced measurement. Whether it is a brand lift study, a foot traffic study, or a sales lift study – these studies can help prove out the value of media. We will be dedicating a separate post to advanced measurement later on in our series to help you understand the best times and ways to integrate this type of measurement. 

  1. How will I compare performance across time and channels?

Volume KPIs (impressions, site sessions, sales) have their place, especially when setting goals for your organization. However, it will be important you also establish a metric that is normalized despite the amount of spend/impressions so that you can compare performance. 

For example, let’s say I said search traffic dropped 10% year over year. At first blush, you may think that is a negative thing. But if I followed it up by saying our total search budget decreased by 55% year-over-year, then this paints a very different and positive picture. The same thing can be said as you start comparing differing channels and tactics that have differing costs. So, as you build out your strategy, it will be important to determine how you compare both quantity and quality in your campaigns.

Quantity metrics are generally based around cost (cost-per-X). These are great for measuring efficiency of tactics. This removes spend as a variable (as budgets between tactics or campaigns could vary widely) and compares on more like terms to determine the best use of dollars to drive volume.

Quality metrics on the other hand focus on rates. This could be things such as video completion rate (video completes divided by impressions) or pageview rate (pageviews divided by impressions). This is similar to Quantity metrics in that it compares tactics with both large and small volume in a more similar way. What percentage of the time did the user do the desired action? This is important especially for lead campaigns where driving high quality leads is more important than driving cheap leads that don’t convert.

  1. What performance do I want to see?

Once you know what you want to do and you know how to measure it, the next step is understanding what you will define as “performing well.” Firstly, it is important to understand benchmarks. This is generally defined as the performance baseline and what you can expect to see. Every tactic has different benchmarks, so it is important to take that into consideration.

Going one step beyond benchmarks is setting goals. This is the performance you would love to see in an ideal world. While it is important to set realistic goals that are achievable, this is where we generally push our boundaries and challenge ourselves. This is especially critical for campaigns that are based on conversions, as benchmarks are likely hard to come by, knowing every sale and conversion are different. If you clearly communicate your goals with your agency or team, they will be more likely to deliver results.

  1. How will my creative strategy and media strategy work together?

Creative strategy that mirrors the ultimate media strategy is absolutely critical to media success. At True Media we work with both in house teams and creative agencies to ensure that assets developed follow our measurement strategy. This means that your call to action should be very clear (and directly related to your KPI). This helps ensure the consumer understands what their next step is and has a good user journey and experience.

  1. What is new?

It can be easy to just keep doing the same approach every campaign with the same tactics; however, the media landscape is constantly changing. An approach that worked three years ago (or even 6 months ago) may be outdated, with new measurement solutions and metrics becoming available. This evolution ensures you are on the cutting edge and moving the needle with your marketing dollars. While doing this can take time, in my experience, cookie-cutter plans rarely outperform campaigns that regularly adapt and are custom to an organization’s goals.

This list is by no means exhaustive. Every campaign has its own unique challenges to be met, but no matter the campaign, these six questions can be the start of a strong measurement strategy that will align with business goals and lead to long term success. By defining success and understanding what metrics will indicate success, you can create a wise paid media strategy leading to overall growth for your organization.

About the Author

Kallie Hagerman, Client Strategy Supervisor

Kallie leads strategy and planning for a variety of clients at True Media to promote innovation and drive business results through integrated marketing campaigns.

The Importance of a Measurement Framework

Welcome to our series on Measurement Matters. Throughout the next several weeks, we will have client strategists who are passionate about a particular aspect of campaign measurement dive a little deeper and provide a point-of-view that has been built over time, experience, and pursuit of honing their craft of campaign planning. Campaign measurement strategy and frameworks are the most critical part of a planning process (audience definition and planning is a close second, but more on that in a future series). Throughout my career in media, I have developed an enthusiastic affinity for measurement strategy – something all my clients can attest to. Here’s why:

Measurement strategy is our roadmap

Have you ever had a specific destination in mind and started your trip without a clear understanding of how to get there? If so, it probably took longer than necessary, there were avoidable detours, and unnecessary frustrations. The same goes for campaign planning. A proper measurement framework that includes a solid understanding of the business and business goals, sets the tone and trajectory for channel and tactical planning, data and tagging strategy, campaign optimization, and performance results and communication. The most rigorous solutions will include the role of each channel in the customer journey and how it will be measured. It will easily flow into message mapping and will tie together creative elements to ensure a seamless customer experience.

We care about your business

Each business has its own unique challenges, opportunities and goals. Measurement frameworks should reflect that too! A proper measurement framework will put business goals first, illustrate how marketing and media can support those goals, and facilitate a robust conversation about priorities and numeric goals or benchmarks. Those meaningful conversations will also provide invaluable insights to prioritizing the goals, identifying relevant metrics, and defining how to accomplish success. A measurement framework is one of the best ways to de-risk your marketing investment. This leads me to the next point.

“Every tactic/channel has its place, and function and should perform accordingly”

Just like we all have a job to do on our teams, every channel has its role to contribute to the campaign. Part of the art and strategy of these measurement frameworks are translating business goals into metrics that are good indicators of success (or failure leading to a need for optimization).

During this series, we will clearly align how we translate sales, awareness, and/or engagement to success metrics that we can measure. We will review how each channel works together throughout the audience journey/funnel, and identify what is going to move the needle in each particular business. A solid measurement framework will set the stage for learning agendas, testing, and optimization. In each of these cases, there is a requirement of a clearly defined business goal and a knowledge of the role the channel plays in its success.

Discussion about success early is a requirement to achieve success

There are too many important conversations that are often missed when teams set off on campaign planning. In today’s world, if someone isn’t thinking philosophically about success for a new campaign before it goes to market AND how it will be measured, the campaign will fail. Yes, I said it.

If you don’t fundamentally know HOW to show success, success is out of reach. There are many data points that can help build the actionable insights throughout the campaign. There should be thoughtfulness around advanced measurement such as brand lift, foot traffic, and sentiment tracking.  We need to understand if incrementality with measurement is an option, i.e. do we realistically have a control group? There should be discussion around third party indicators such Google Trends and industry benchmarks. Not all of this is necessary or accessible for every campaign. Regardless, there should be a thoughtful discussion at the very beginning of the campaign before it’s too late to implement. The reality is, the teams that are charged with illustrating success with accountability to the business goal should have a clear vision that will allow them to bring actionable insights rather than mere tactical observations and vanity metrics.

All that said, I am very excited for our team to formally share some of the areas of measurement they are most passionate about over the next several weeks. Each will bring their unique perspective that helps meld our team’s individual areas of expertise and knowledge that makes it stronger. 

About the Author

Rhonda Meier, Senior Vice President Client Strategy

Rhonda helps lead our company’s media planning and strategy philosophy to deliver strategic and fully-integrated campaigns across all media platforms.

Video Trends and COVID-19

Over the past few weeks as workers across the United States have settled into new routines, social distancing and working from their kitchens, dens, basements, and even bathrooms, we have seen a dramatic shift in media consumption and habits.

  • Americans are searching for news and coronavirus information, homeschooling tips, and ‘drive-by baby shower ideas.’
  • Publisher paywalls are coming down in order to provide greater access to COVID information.
  • Out of home viewing has declined significantly as commuting and shopping ground to a halt.
  • Online shopping for grocery items and household essentials is overwhelming websites and causing delays.
  • Americans at home are spending significantly more time with their TVs and connected devices — from local news to Netflix binging.

Interestingly, linear TV viewing is slightly down in the early morning hours, as workers may be sleeping a little later since they don’t have to commute. But by 8am, TV sets are on and stay on throughout the day. Local News is an important source of information for Americans, and connected TVs are a fast growing source of entertainment for viewers of all ages.

While we all wait for the COVID-curve to flatten, we are starting to see a flattening of the curve when it comes to video viewing. Americans have adjusted to work-from-home settings and have settled into new routines. The week that ended on March 29 shows that the rapid growth in total television viewing over the past 5 weeks has slowed. Only a week before,  week-over-week increased in double digits — ranging from +12% to +42% across different demos. The following week flattened out across the board for most components of TV usage.

The current, higher levels of television usage is expected hold throughout the mandatory shelter-at-home period, and we anticipate that some of these trends may have an effect beyond the pandemic. Streaming services were in a growth mode before, and will likely benefit more in the future. There are still a lot of original programs left to binge on Netflix. YouTube continues to grow. And new services are challenging the established brands. For example, Quibi launched with a 90-day free trial, adding yet another option to the menu.

When the recovery begins, certain COVID-influenced behaviors will likely remain. People may be wary of returning to the office, large crowds, subways, sporting events, and concerts. There will be a continued need for information. According to recent research from GlobalWebindex, many people say they will continue to consume video much like they are today.

Marketers, particularly those that have halted or cut ad spending during this crisis, will need to look at the new consumption patterns and engage with their consumers accordingly.

As SVP Activation Strategy, Vaughn provides strategic direction to our agency, playing a crucial role in planning for the future growth of the agency, including molding and training activation teams.  He understands the correlation between brand, content, and channel to drive incremental, measurable results. His background in media strategy from start to finish allows him to lead his team in focusing on the acquisition of the most efficient, relevant, engaging and effective media touchpoints for client media plans, while always looking for innovative solutions along the way.

What is True Local?

At True Media, innovation is one of our four core values. Each month we award teams who demonstrate internal or client innovations, and at the end of the year we award one overall Innovation Award winner that stood out amongst other winners. This year’s Innovation Award winner is Senior Search Strategist Steve Sherfy for his leadership in the True Local initiative. 


True Local is a management services and review monitoring platform that enables you to view and respond to customer reviews in one place. It gathers information from your stores, uploads and maintains listings. This includes changes to hours, new stores, and consistent brand information. True Local also provides a single platform from which you can reply directly to customer reviews — an essential practice for improving local search result performance. 

Who Needs It
  • Any brand with brick and mortar locations needs a local SEO program which extends beyond the search platforms to other directory sites like Apple Maps, Foursquare,, Facebook, etc.
  • With Google now incorporating GMB location activity into the paid search metrics, along with the store visit conversion paid search metric, a local SEO program is more important than ever for your brand. 
Successes – Client A
  • 27% increase in total views of their listings
  • 16% increase in views on search results and a 43% increase in views on map results
  • Total interactions with the listings increased 60% with a 59% increase in clicks to the banking website, 15% increase in clicks for driving directions and an 82% increase in clicks to call a bank location
Successes – Client B

Within first 90 days on the program we were able to show our client:

  • Over 1.1MM views of their business listings
  • Approximately 12,000 store visits
  • Estimated 7,800 in-store purchases
  • Worth an estimated $297K
  • ROI of 94:1

Search Strategy Q&A

Google has been investing in its shopping products to keep up with competitors like Amazon and Instagram. Recently, Google revamped its shopping program to include visual product search, price tracking, and a “buy with Google” capability. True Media Senior Search Strategist Steve Sherfy is here to to help you understand what this means and how exactly it will effect Search Advertising. 

Q: How do these updates change the game for Search?

A: For quite some time the game has been ‘find it on Google, buy it elsewhere (either on Amazon or the seller directly)’. Other platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram have moved into their territory in the ‘discovery’ phase, but most people still fall back to the idea of searching on Google for the things they discovered on the other platforms and buying through shopping ads or buying on Amazon.  With Google adding in the “buy with google” feature, it is an attempt to capitalize further by bringing the purchase in house and away from retailer sites and Amazon as much as possible. This shows that the new battle is time on platform — with the longer the time on any one platform, the more likely that platform will be utilized through the entire buying cycle. This change illustrates that shopping has fundamentally changed and it is not going back to previous formats.  For most retail clients that means adjusting how they think of reaching their customers and earning their customer’s purchases. Optimized product feeds and shopping ads are no longer something nice to do, they are a necessity.

Q: In regards to the updates being an attempt to compete with Amazon and Instagram — who do you think will accomplish this best in terms of growth and opportunity? 

A: Google has made themselves synonymous with discovery and these new features play into the growing consumer demand for ease and quickness of purchase.  If they are able to seamlessly integrate the entire cycle for the consumer, Amazon is the most likely to feel the pinch.

Q: Google will soon be beta testing the ability to automatically optimize for brick and mortar store visits into campaign, as well as segmenting out new customer acquisition shopping campaigns from those for existing customers.  How can this help retail clients specifically?

A: Some retail clients still do not have e-commerce as a high priority, especially clients in the Farm and Home space, where many products have shipping charges that make buying online a less desirable choice.  With store visit conversions being a metric to optimize against, this can be a game changer for these retail clients, allowing them to enter into the shopping campaign space with an offline goal that can be strategize and measured.

Q: Google is also attempting to fine-tune its search results to handle more general searches. For example, broad based searches would include typing “living room ideas” or “outfits for Fall” — these searches will now result in more image-driven advertisements, along with aggregated content. How does this change how keywords are used? Will they be necessary or used moving forward? 

A: There will never be a time when keyword-based search is a necessary tactic for paid search.  However, keyword-based campaigns do need to evolve with consumer search practices along with available options for targeting.  These changes bring to the forefront the need to segment paid search campaigns by age and other demographic indicators as generational differences in online discovery and purchases have never been greater.