By 2020, digital ad spend in the healthcare and pharma category will hit $3.10 billion annually in the U.S. But, as impressive as that number seems, the sector is still one of the smallest when it comes to digital ad spend.

And it’s not an issue of low consumer demand.

Digital natives are going digital to manage their health

Pharma rich media

Pharma rich media

Patients are proactively seeking out health-related information on the internet and they want pharma companies to reach them through digital channels. The top four areas patients are searching? Medications (80%), chronic conditions (75%), healthcare services (71%) and illnesses or ailments (65%). An impressive 64% of patients are willing to provide details about their health in exchange for free health information or services.

On the other side of the healthcare equation: the era of the digital native healthcare practitioner has arrived and they expect pharma to keep up. The average physician spends one full work day a week on the internet for professional reasons, usually searching for clinical studies or evidence-based medicine. They want more digital resources and higher-quality information so they can serve their patients better.

With all this potential in the healthcare and pharma category, why are there still so few good pharma digital ads? And of the ads that do exist, why are so many snooze-worthy?

Do complex regulatory environments smother good digital ads?

Healthcare digital banners

Healthcare digital banners

Digital pharma marketers walk a tighter rope than most industries. Strict regulatory frameworks and complex approvals processes leave many pharma marketing teams thinking it’s impossible to create high-impact digital and banner ads.

But, despite the hurdles, rich media and HTML5 ad technology makes it possible to create compliant, compelling digital ad campaigns. Interactive websites or banner ads are just the tip of the possibilities iceberg.

The secret to success? Finding a digital production partner that’s experienced in the healthcare and pharma vertical. (Need help with your search? Check out our guide on How to Manage Your HTML5 Banner Project. There’s a section with questions to ask when hiring a digital production partner.)

Creating digital ads for pharma that don’t suck

Healthcare production agency

Healthcare production agency

Good digital production partners that are well-versed in the pharma regulatory hoops don’t just build flawless creative. They understand how to leverage rich media capabilities to build unmissable ad campaigns. Rich media can increase the time pharma customers spend on your messaging, boost brand recall, elevate engagement and increase click-through-rates.

But the foundation of good rich media ads is the creative. That’s especially true for pharma ads, with their complex messaging and detailed information. Quality creative is the best way to capture and keep consumer attention.

Speaking of creative: don’t forget to think beyond banner ads. Interactive websites or micro-videos are the perfect way to level up pharma marketing efforts in a creative, compliant manner.

Storytellers can tell stories on any platform with digital ads

HTML5 Ads For Healthcare

HTML5 Ads For Healthcare

The core of good creative are stories. And the principles of storytelling (and marketing) are platform-agnostic and customer-centric. What do your customers care about? What are their pain points and how do your products solve them?

Pharma marketing teams have been telling customer-centric stories on TV for decades. And it’s a skillset that can serve them well in the digital ad landscape. Rich media is the perfect tool for creating stories, whether it’s a high-impact ad format like an interactive website or a compelling call to action on a banner ad. And unlike the almost-defunct Flash, HTML5 ad technology enables your digital production partner to build cross-screen experiences that maintain narrative consistency.

Digital ads are kind to your bottom line

Pharma Rich Media Banners

Pharma Rich Media Banners

Healthcare and pharma already have a head start on most verticals for one simple reason: an abundance of creative assets, courtesy of their plentiful TV ad campaigns. Rich media banner ads or interactive websites are a great way to repurpose your assets while maintaining a uniform brand experience across multiple screens and platforms. And of course, reusing assets (like with micro-videos) is a great way to conserve resources.

Another bonus: tracking and targeting capabilities ensure you get the most out of your digital ad investment. Dynamic banner campaigns enable you to display the right ads at the right time to the right prospect. AdTech and publisher platforms provide a wide variety of metrics, so you can make data-driven decisions about your efforts.

The final word

Don’t discount digital ads if you’re a pharma or healthcare marketer. Branded or unbranded, they can play a powerful role in your online marketing activities. The key is a digital production partner with hands-on experience in the complex pharma regulatory environments.

Ready to bring your digital ad campaign ideas to life? Drop us a line!