Bringing Efficiency and Innovation to Hospital Marketing

True Media recently has partnered with WebMD to launch a new programmatic marketing program, specifically designed for hospital marketing. Below is Q&A with Sean Cotton, VP of Digital & Social Media, and Candice Rotter, Associate Media Director – Healthcare, on how this partnership was developed and how it will benefit True Media’s large client base of hospitals.

How will hospital clients benefit from this partnership?

​Rotter: WebMD is the premiere place to go for trusted healthcare information. In the past they have always had a minimum spend requirement. This can be an issue when we are trying to target at the zip code level because there has not been enough available inventory to meet those minimum spend requirements. ​Now with our partnership, that is no longer the case, without that minimum we can get as targeted as we would like with each campaign.​

Cotton: Yes, and it is very advantageous for hospitals to have their brands associated with an authoritative healthcare publisher such as WebMD when people in their area are researching their content.

What other advantages do you see with this programmatic buying method for WebMD inventory?

​Cotton: The manual method of making digital media buys is typically a 40 step process. Multiplied over the many hospitals we represent and the individual campaigns that those hospitals run this would result in much of our buying team’s time being spent on data entry and email tasks. This method streamlines the process so our teams can spend more time on strategy and optimization which benefits the performance and results of our campaigns.

Rotter: I like the fact that we have the ability in real-time to see what is available for each symptom/service-line. This allows us to act quickly on timely campaigns and allows us the ability to secure all inventory that is available in those sectors.  

Can you explain how the process works?

Cotton: Sure. Basically True Media is able to work through our programmatic partner, Coegi, to access online the wedmd-medical-content-advertisingavailable impressions on WebMD as a whole or at the topic level down to the zip code level. We can then select, reserve and buy the inventory that we want for our clients – and all of this is done programmatically, or in other words, through online ordering. We actually had custom areas set up for most of the hospitals we work with so we can do this for each of them based upon their market needs and service lines.

​Rotter: First we were able to load all target areas for each hospital in the system. Then we are able to select that hospital for any campaign, and it automatically knows what our targeting perimeters are.​ Then you can select categories or content, such as flu, heart, sports medicine, etc., and it shows you all inventory that is available in those areas. You can then select what ad sizes you would like to commit to, and what impression levels the campaign objective requires. You can then secure at that time. It makes it a very efficient process. 

What results have you seen so far?​

​Rotter: Great performance especially for niche campaigns. For example, one of our hospitals had a campaign promoting services for cervical cancer and we were able to reserve and buy specific content on WebMD for that condition in the area that the hospital served. The performance metrics for these type of campaigns are generally double industry benchmarks.

Cotton: I see an overall lift in the relevance and quality of our healthcare campaigns. Being able to integrate the leading healthcare Web site into any of our campaigns automatically improves the impact and relevance to the consumer for our hospital client’s brands. It has been very exciting for our team to be able to be at the forefront of this innovation and I feel that our hospital clients understand how the exposure on a premium site such as WebMD benefits them in terms of their brand image as well.

Healthcare Marketing For Seniors Goes… Mobile!?

As part of a new series of original content, we welcome this post, written by Candice Rotter, Associate Media Director and our Healthcare Marketing expert.
We handle a large amount of healthcare marketing here at True Media. When working with healthcare providers, one of the most frequent questions I hear is: “My target is older; are they even online?”
The answer to this question is YES. And that’s an emphatic “yes,” because they’re not only online, they’re using digital media at rates that shatter our previous conceptions of the demographic.
The way everyone spends their time with media has shifted dramatically in the past few years. According to eMarketer, time spent within digital media has increased 18% since 2010 for all Americans over 18 (fig 1). What’s even more surprising is the percentage of that growth attributed to seniors. In a second graphic, we can see that seniors are not only online, but the hours they spend with digital media are close behind the hours spent by younger, traditionally media-savvy demographic groups (fig 2).

Time Spent on Major Media by Adults, 2010-2014

Fig 1, courtesy of

Average Monthly Time Spent Online by US Internet Users, by Age and Platform

Fig 2, courtesy of

American adults are spending twelve hours a day with some form of media. TWELVE hours! The real game changer for healthcare marketing is realizing that of that media usage, not only are seniors accessing a large portion of that media via digital sources, but almost half of that digital usage is on a mobile platform.
A few years ago, the primary ways we targeted older audiences was via the evening news, The Andy Griffith Show (which, by the way, still pulls a 12 rating in Florida,) and newspaper. Now that audience has changed; they are playing mobile games, posting pictures on Instagram, and pinning wedding ideas on Pinterest for their nieces and nephews. These people are now watching television, reading a book on their iPad, and shopping for a new pair of boots on their phone, all at the same time.
So, this brings us back to the original point. Older audiences are clearly a part of this digital savvy world, but are they looking online for healthcare information? Again, the answer is YES (fig 3). 43% of 65+ internet users have looked online for a specific disease or medical problem, while 36% have looked up a certain medical treatment of procedure. And not only are they performing searches to get this information, they’re using social networks to get the information they need (fig 4). Year-over-year growth in social networking is the greatest among people 55+, and the percentage of older Americans using popular platforms such as YouTube continues to increase. In fact, in one of our recent promoted YouTube campaigns for Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), Google TrueView saw our highest view rates coming from Adults 65+!
Types of Health Information that US Internet Users Have Looked for Online, by Demographic

Fig 3, courtesy of

Year-Over-Year Growth in Social Networks Greatest Among People Age 55 and Older

Fig 4, courtesy of Arbitron

We need to be looking forward as we address meeting seniors in the marketplace. Soon, it will no longer be valid to pour our resources into traditional media, or even desktop internet usage. The future of the American Senior is on the Smartphone. This target no longer simply spends time online, they spend more time in mobile than they do on desktop. Smartphones are quickly becoming the key piece of technology linking seniors to the services they need. As the penetration of smartphones is expected to double for seniors 55-64 by 2018 (fig 5,) we need to be prepared for a world in which reaching seniors means targeting on-trend media. Now, they’re mastering YouTube- before long, they will be adapting to the six second video with Vine.
US Smartphone User Penetration, by Age 2012-2018

Fig 5, courtesy of

The journey of healthcare is changing every day. With the ability to research and find out information about symptoms or diseases prior to visiting a doctor, the marketing landscape changes immensely. It’s important that your brand has a voice in all segments of the market, in order to influence older Americans in the research phase of the consumer decision journey. Advertising through paid search, video, mobile, display, and social media are all keys to crafting the conversation about what you offer, what sets you apart, what makes you human, and what you can do for your patient.
Ultimately, when you’re creating your marketing strategy, digital can’t be ignored. Everyone is using digital media, and cross-platform delivery, at that. Gone are the days of grandparents glued to Matlock and getting their information from the evening news. This is an age in which the technology gap is closing, and youthful habits are lasting longer into adulthood. Believe it or not, Grandma is quite trendy. It’s important that your strategies are, too.