Recently, Dr. Augustine Fou, an independent ad fraud consultant and pharma industry veteran, addressed a pressing concern for pharma marketers: the high cost of ad fraud. His article in PM 360 poses the question, “is your online audience even real?” Dr. Fou examines how ad fraud is committed, why cybercriminals are drawn to pharma, and what pharma marketers can do to prevent it.
In some cases, there are low tech solutions that will ensure your website audience isn’t bots. But to optimize your ad spend, you’ll need to upgrade your technology. The ability to identify website visitors in real time—including which HCPs are consuming your website content and digital ads—is essential in order to focus your ad dollars (and creative) on the most meaningful HCPs.
A Gold Mine for Cybercriminals
Ad fraud is highly lucrative, and pharma is an especially attractive target. In 2017, U.S. digital ad spend is expected to increase 18% to $70 billion. Pharma ad budgets, in particular, are increasing. Plus, both cost per click (CPC) and cost per thousand impressions (CPM) are much higher in pharma than in other industries.
At the same time, committing ad fraud is cheap. “Bots” are simply automated browser tools that can be developed inexpensively. They’re typically hosted on the cloud, which means there’s no capital outlay for server facilities. So for cybercriminals, pharma represents a huge opportunity where margins can reach 99%.
Pharma Pays a Steep Price
We all know that bots waste ad dollars, since they’ll never become prescribers. They also invalidate analytics by inflating key metrics like click-throughs and time on site. When you make purchasing decisions based on this bad data, you’re likely to continue pouring your ad budget into what are actually your worst-performing websites. Also, as Fou explains, fraud isn’t actually lower in mobile, it’s simply less measurable. This is especially bad news for pharma. Physicians rely heavily on their mobile devices, so marketers need to be able to reach them there.
To get a quick sense of how ad fraud is affecting your campaigns, first determine where visitors are coming from. Bots come from data centers; human visitors don’t. Use organic search data to establish benchmarks for real, human browsing behavior. Then take a close look at any data that’s too good, or too bad, to be true. If your advertising platforms aren’t already providing this level of data, start requiring it from them.
Individual, Not Aggregated Data
If the medical publishers and other healthcare websites where you place ads use audience identity management technology, you can get even more granular. Every time a tagged HCP visits one of these sites, the Audience Identity Manager℠ (AIM) reports that individual’s name, NPI number, specialty, and practice location. AIM can also tell you how often an individual HCP views your ad, how long she spends on that page, and what other content she views on that site.
Because audience identity management technology authenticates the traffic to online medical publications, you can know who views your pharma ads and refine your ad spend accordingly. Instead of evaluating aggregated website data and guessing how best to spend your ad budget, you can calculate page views by individual and even serve targeted ads to individuals in real-time.