Include Contextual Advertising in Your Healthcare Marketing Strategy

graphic of woman meditating in a living room with a connected tv device to illustrate healthcare marketing strategies

Healthcare is an ever-growing market that comes with unique challenges—particularly in the wake of the pandemic. Between changing pandemic restrictions, HIPAA compliance, and the evolving privacy landscape, marketers are looking for a healthcare marketing strategy that will help them reach new patients. 

Google has previously revealed that about 5% of all Google searches are healthcare related. And, when consumers start researching health related topics they are more likely to call a provider. Given this, healthcare marketers will find success if they can ensure their digital ads appear on the pages that users are turning to for their healthcare information. One tactic for placing ads on relevant content is to leverage contextual advertising. 

Read on to learn how contextual targeting benefits healthcare campaigns, and explore examples of healthcare marketing strategies that leverage this targeting methodology. 

Contextual Advertising as a Healthcare Marketing Strategy

Contextual advertising targets ads based on the environment in which the ad appears. Using sophisticated algorithms, this method targets ad placements based on keywords, website content, and other metadata. This way, ads are shown to users based on the content they are consuming at that exact moment in time. Healthcare marketers can use this targeting methodology to ensure that their ads reach users who are in a receptive frame of mind. 

For example, a user researching how to treat a runny nose might go online to research home remedies. With contextual advertising, a company selling medicine or lozenges can target metadata related to that topic, like the keyphrase “cold remedies.” This way, the ads appear on blogs that are relevant to a user who is in a receptive frame of mind when it comes to products that will help them treat their runny nose. 

Contextual targeting isn’t constrained by privacy legislation. Instead, it leverages the context next to which the ad appears. Aside from the benefit of reaching niche audiences in highly relevant environments, contextual advertising can be used to create strong brand affinity. 

IAS research has shown that context is critical and the power of that environment influences a more positive sentiment and stronger brand recall. IAS found that users’ receptivity, favorability and memorability all rose when ads were run along contextually related content. Given the limitations of health based marketing due to compliance and industry rules, contextual advertising is an exciting tactic that marketers can leverage to reach the right audience. 

Drive Awareness by Reaching Receptive Users

The pandemic brought on more than just a COVID-19 health crisis—the isolation and stress of pandemic restrictions also led to an increase in demand for mental health resources. With nearly half of the US population reporting that the pandemic was impacting their mental health, many Americans began to look for support and resources that could be accessed from home. For example, the online therapy service Talkspace reported a 65% increase in clientele since the start of the pandemic. 

Since contextual advertising places ads on hyper relevant pages, it can be a useful tactic for enabling companies and services that address mental health to reach people in need of support. For example, an online therapy company can use a contextual campaign to drive awareness using in context and out of context phrases. 

Contextual advertising enables a marketer to identify the phrases and keywords that are most appropriate to target. To drive awareness for online therapy, a marketer could target in context phrases like “mental health support,” “tips for anxiety,” or “mental health tips.” Ads would then be placed on content related to those phrases, reaching an audience that is actively looking for resources. 

Educate a Broad Audience About New Options

Healthcare marketers often face the challenge of identifying users who fit their target audience, largely because of compliance regulations. With contextual advertising, you can widen the contexts you are targeting to reach new, broader audiences. One way to do this is to experiment with inputting phrases related to the healthcare category, instead of the specific product or service. 

For example, a brand selling a monitoring system for glucose levels can use contextual targeting to serve ads within content that relates to diabetes broadly. By targeting keyphrases like, “diabetes information,” “diabetes management,” and “how to treat diabetes,” the brand can reach a large pool of users who are receptive to information about diabetes. 

While the audience may not be looking specifically for a glucose monitoring system, the ad placement may spark the reader’s curiosity to have a conversation with their healthcare provider to discuss. 

Contextual targeting provides the option to cast a wide net when targeting your audience. Taking this broad approach gives you the ability to reach receptive users beyond the limitations of the compliant audience, who have an interest or connection to the healthcare concern that your product or service addresses. You have access to the full reach of web pages on which content exists, which exponentially increases the reach as a result. 

Include Contextual Advertising in Your Healthcare Marketing Strategy

With contextual advertising, healthcare marketers can ensure they are reaching the right audiences, in the right frame of mind. By evaluating your customer’s journey, you can get your message in front of those that need it most, and use contextual advertising to reach them to address their health concerns. And using contextual advertising in your healthcare marketing strategy will help boost the performance of your campaigns. In StackAdapt healthcare campaigns, we found that in 76% of campaigns, contextual advertising outperforms retargeting when it comes to eCPA. 

There are other benefits, too. When targeting with contextual advertising, the user doesn’t have to accept cookie tracking to be reached. It isn’t constrained by privacy legislation because it doesn’t collect or use information about users. And, since contextual advertising campaigns are served programmatically, you can use many different formats to serve your ads like native, display and video, and you can review real-time metrics and optimize for maximum performance.

Looking to start experimenting with contextual advertising? Request a demo.

John Carvalho
John Carvalho

Director, Client Services


John is responsible for managing team performance, delivering exceptional client service, and driving operational excellence to ensure the successful execution of all client programs. He is always looking for ways to give his clients a creative edge.