Pharma Agency Medicx Taps TubeMogul For Tighter (But Not One-To-One) Video Targets

VidIt may sound strange, but indie media agency and data marketing company Medicx Media has no interest in “one-to-one” marketing.

That’s because the majority of brands it serves are publicly traded pharma firms, makers of over-the-counter drugs and pharmacies, companies whose use of data is sharply restricted.

For instance, targeting users based on health-related conditions at the household level is a big, fat “out of the question.”

And yet, there’s an opportunity to provide more granular messaging to audiences. About $3 billion is spent in TV yearly by health and pharma brands, according to Kantar Media. Much of that spend is broadly targeted and, therefore, results in a lot of waste.

Some, like Medicx, are building proprietary tech stacks to ensure certain brand controls are in place. The agency just signed on as a self-service user of TubeMogul’s video ad platform, using Acxiom’s LiveRamp as its data onboarding tool, to create a video trading desk.

“They have it quarantined, so data flowing through is only available within our instance of the app and no other TubeMogul users have access to our data,” said Mike Joachim, VP of digital media and targeting solutions for Medicx.

Joachim was a media buyer for Novartis at MEC prior to his current position at Medicx. Inventory scale and diversity has always been a challenge for health care marketers, he said.

Because of the sensitive nature of prescription drug messaging, advertisers need to meet “fair balance” rules, an FDA guideline requiring companies to disclose information about drug benefits versus drug risks. 

“Brand safety and transparency was very important, but we also needed the ability to support longer-form video, which TubeMogul does, specifically with 60-[second ads],” he said. “You need [those extra seconds] to meet the regulations that come along with the creative.”

Michael Weintraub, CEO of Medicx, said self-service deployments are a must for his agency to keep client data close to the chest.

“We want the destiny of contract renewals in our hands, not a managed-service vendor servicing 50 other client campaigns,” Weintraub said. “We don’t want to run the risk of our data going into another’s DMP,” so Medicx claims it is judicious in partner evaluations.

Medicx offers two proprietary data sources to clients: a database of “MicroNeighborhood Targets” representing 150 million people, and a panel of 23 million users who have opted in to fill out health surveys in exchange for discounts or special offers.

Medicx claims it does not dabble in personally identifiable information. Instead, the company says it created a hashed “patient key” – in aggregate – via “deidentified and anonymized” insurance claims.

This key might include information on ailment, RX medication, type of insurance and ZIP code, which would be predictively modeled into MicroNeighborhood Targets.

“Before we can publish and target an audience for one of our campaigns, we have to ensure a single MicroNeighborhood Target has a certain number of people who live there and a minimum number of patients,” Weintraub said. “If you only work off of minimum number of patients and you have a small number of people living in one ZIP area, you run the risk of ‘reidentifying’ somebody, which we will not do.”

The company claims it meets HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability And Accountability Act) certification standards and goes through auditing every three years.

Although that “certification process” is laced with ambiguity, Weintraub reiterated, the end goal for its clients is not to send a one-to-one message, but to reduce overall waste in their media campaigns by getting closer (but not all the way) to an end consumer.

“Clients are very specific in their insertion orders –most pharma companies don’t allow any type of retargeting using click streams, so we must onboard data through other means,” he said. “This is still [about managing] clients’ comfort levels. … There is no publicly traded drug company that wants to be a poster child for bad news.”

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