Skip to main content


Prioritizing Mobile: The Screen Healthcare Advertisers Can’t Ignore

October 10, 2017


Nowadays consumers are using their smartphones for everything. Need to set an alarm? Need to call a cab? Need to buy groceries? Almost all our needs have an easy, instantaneous solution by using our phone. In 2017, U.S. consumers, on average, spend at least 5 hours a day on their mobile devices. Strong mobile usage has led to a great shift in how consumers interact with brands both online and in-store, and for that reason brands have been quick to implement mobile in their advertising strategies. With endless information at our fingertips, consumers are actively researching and purchasing products in a moment of need, regardless of location. Forrester calls this trend the “mobile mind shift” – the expectation that we can get what we want, anytime, in our immediate context. So what does this mean for industries like healthcare who have been slow to jump on the mobile bandwagon?

Branching out and leveraging mobile for a more personalized consumer experience is crucial for campaign success.  

Why mobile is the perfect fit for healthcare

For starters, 72% of consumers say they look online for health information of one kind or another, including searches related to serious conditions, general information, and minor health problems. Additionally, according to eMarketer, U.S. adults spend 37% more time on their mobile devices versus desktop and have collectively downloaded over 900,000 mobile apps related to healthcare in 2017. While the “online health seeker” trend is well known, many underestimate how critical it is to reach this consumer type on mobile. Many also overlook the use cases for health related apps beyond fitness. Mobile health app developers claim that diagnostics, medical condition management, remote consultation, and health records all have higher market potential than fitness tracking according to eMarketer. This further proves that tactics like mobile search and in-app banner ads are virtually untapped frontiers that can be used to supplement desktop-oriented digital strategies.

Another important aspect of the consumer healthcare experience is the social life of health information and peer-to-peer support online. People with health conditions are using their mobile devices to easily share experiences and get support from others like themselves via online platforms. The leading online health resources are condition-specific sites and apps such as WebMD and Mayo Clinic. However, Facebook has become the most frequently used social media resource for consuming and sharing health information. With 90% of Facebook’s active users accessing the media through a mobile device, it brings a great opportunity for the industry to target consumers when they are informing discussions between others and healthcare providers. These trends of online health seeking and sharing health experiences online allow the industry to take a more active role in managing individuals’ health and generating sales.

So what’s the problem?

The healthcare industry faces unique challenges when adopting digital advertising strategies. While digital ad spend continues to increase across the industry, a majority of ad spend is still allocated towards traditional efforts. U.S. healthcare brands face roadblocks because they are prohibited from using first-party data that would allow them to digitally target consumers based on their medical profiles. This goes for all digital channels - display, mobile, social, search, native, and video. Healthcare advertisers also rely heavily on coupon marketing efforts to create demand for their products. As mobile couponing becomes the new norm for consumers, healthcare brands find themselves limited in their ability to tailor digital coupon offers because of poor data availability from specific retailers (e.g. Walmart, Walgreens). As a result, the industry has seen a sharp decline in coupon redemption rates since consumers are required to print healthcare coupons through desktop devices. For the large healthcare companies of the world (Pfizer, Allergen, GSK, etc.), these restrictions are just a slight hiccup in their advertising success as they have the resources and funding to work around these challenges. It’s the small and independent healthcare companies that suffer the most and are struggling to satisfy these more personalized consumer demands.

Making mobile the solution

So, the question is, how can these small and independent healthcare companies fully embrace the “mobile mind shift” of consumers? To begin answering this question, they must first understand how mobile fits into an advertising strategy. Mobile is the dominant first screen for consumers to interact with brands, so a comprehensive strategy weighting mobile research and awareness with desktop coupon conversion activity is essential. Here are some key steps to maximizing mobile:

  • Consider the consumer’s entire path to purchase, and don’t focus on mobile as a siloed channel
  • Apply more generally targeted awareness and interest tactics across display, social, video, and native channels while setting a strong focus in search efforts to actively reach healthcare consumers
  • Incorporate mobile and desktop targeting across these media channels to follow consumers throughout their healthcare experience

These are just some of many proven strategies that have helped our clients reach new users and drive brand interest while working around targeting limitations. As the complex healthcare field expands so does competition, making it harder for small and independent companies to stand out in the market. At MBuy we are up for the challenge and help our clients develop a strong share of voice in the space because we can optimize in real time across various channels. We react quickly to change and capitalize on media channels where competitors are spending less. This is how we lower cost per acquisition, increase brand engagement, and boost sales. By prioritizing campaigns, MBuy was able to decrease one healthcare client’s cost per acquisition by 35% and increase website sessions by 75% year over year, resulting in an 11% improvement in sales.

What sets us apart from other agencies is our ability to run all campaigns in-house. We set our focus on how all media channels work together to drive performance, rather than individually. This fluidity allows us to make campaign optimizations across traditional and digital channels easily while being efficient with our clients’ media dollars. Running all campaigns in-house gives our team access to all the data, allowing us to notice trends and draw conclusions quickly and in real time. We are experts in helping our clients understand who their target audience is and how they interact with their brand. If you would like to know more, visit our success stories page, or click here to reach us.  

Alix Ruder

Senior Account Manager, MBuy