For Direct-To-Consumer Drug Targeting Geo-Data Can Link Ads To Local Pharmacies

That said, simply geo-fencing drug stores does not help DTC brands hit the right mark, says 4INFO’s Chuck Moxley.

Direct-To-Consumer drug advertising represents a lucrative, if fraught area of marketing. Compared to any other product, brand name drug ads are notoriously difficult to target consumers with. But the competition among brands in the space has created enormous demand for insights into consumers and location data is one possible area the pharma brands have been exploring.

However, using geo-data as a starting off point can have its problems too, says 4INFO CMO Chuck Moxley. The mobile ad attribution company is deepening its focus on the direct-to-consumer drug market in an alliance with Crossix, a leading healthcare marketing analytics provider.

Data from Crossix, combined with 4INFO’s ability to match more than 300 million devices in more than 100 million U.S. homes, now enables pharma marketers to identify, reach and engage with relevant health consumers on their mobile devices. But as Moxley notes, there are minefields to avoid when connecting drug ads to consumers via mobile ad targeting.

GeoMarketing: Does this deal represent a new move into pharma/healthcare for 4INFO? Or an expansion?

Chuck Moxley: More of an expansion. We’ve worked with pharma companies on over-the-counter drugs targeting and measuring campaigns based on frequent shopper data. But we see considerable potential in the Direct-to-Consumer advertising for prescription drugs, and have experienced considerable success thanks to the partnership with Crossix and the ability to tap their data and analytics. Mobile is a new, largely untapped frontier for the broader pharma marketing arena so we expect to see tremendous interest and growth.

How do you view the potential for the use of location-based marketing within the healthcare/wellness space?

Good question. Unlike Location Targeting platforms, which use location history to target audiences, we believe in using data to target the right person, and then use location to ensure relevance and manage context.

In other words, if you are wanting to reach people likely to be diagnosed with a certain illness, then we’ll target those people with a drug ad whenever we see them, but if we see them near a pharmacy, we might use a locator ad or promotion to try to drive immediate action.

Similarly, if we see them at home in the evening on their iPad in lean-back mode, then we may use more interactive units or video and drive them to educational content to better inform them.

The key is ensuring that the drug manufacturer is reaching the potential buyer at all stages during the buying journey, not just when they are in or near a point-of-purchase, which is not the best time to educate or sway opinion. And when you reach that person, serve the most relevant ad and direct to the right type of content given their current context in the buying journey.

Is geo-data a good proxy for targeting certain maladies and medical issues, since actual patient/drug data can’t be used for advertising?

We don’t think so. Through our partnership, Crossix is using trusted healthcare data to build models of the people most likely to be treating a given condition. Those models have proven incredibly accurate, and since 4INFO has succeeded in accurately linking mobile devices to people via home address, we’re able to deliver the ads to such niche audiences at unbelievable scale (95 percent of all U.S. smartphone users).

In a recent study of an actual campaign, Crossix found that we were 10X more targeted than the general population and far more targeted than contextual sites (e.g., medical information sites), which in the past have been a popular way to try to reach people diagnosed with a certain condition.  In fact, in that study we were 2.6 X as targeted as the baseline.

How will 4INFO and Crossix go to market? Is this just a matter of shared data on behalf of mutual clients? Or will this involve co-marketing and mingling of sales teams?

It will be both. We’re doing some joint presentations at conferences, joint webinars and events and more.  We are both very bullish on this new opportunity.

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David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.