Home CTV Blockgraph Wants To Improve Pharma TV Advertising Without Being Creepy

Blockgraph Wants To Improve Pharma TV Advertising Without Being Creepy


Mistargeted and irrelevant ads plague the TV viewing experience.

Pharma brands struggle with targeting and measurement because patient data is highly regulated.

A web of national laws, namely HIPAA, and state laws, such as Washington’s My Health My Data Act, limit the use of patient information. And even if brands could freely access patient files, targeted ads based on health conditions feel creepy and invasive to consumers.

Blockgraph, a TV identity resolution company, is trying to improve TV ad measurement – and, in turn, targeting – for pharma, while also adhering to regulations and without making consumers feel uncomfortable.

On Wednesday, Blockgraph announced a new partnership with health care data company Datavant to help improve TV measurement for pharma brands. Better measurement should also help buyers make more calculated media investments.

Like any brand vertical, pharma and health care advertisers need to prove that their media is leading to outcomes. In their case, that means generating prescriptions, Blockgraph CEO Jason Manningham told AdExchanger.

To do so, they need a way to link insurance claims data to TV ad impressions. Blockgraph and Datavant aim to do just that, he said.

Farming pharma audiences

Brands typically work with multiple third-party data onboarding platforms, such as Experian and LiveRamp, to match claims and impressions data in a way that’s privacy safe.

But this process is expensive, time-consuming and involves a lot of paperwork, Scott Ronay, head of ecosystem partnerships at Datavant, told AdExchanger.

The new partnership with Blockgraph allows TV buyers and sellers to match insurance claims data, which Datavant gets from data partners such as PurpleLab, with TV ad exposure data, which Blockgraph gets from the TV distributors and publishers it’s integrated with. Blockgraph is jointly owned by Comcast, Charter and Paramount.


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“A direct path to TV publishers [helps] measure media performance more accurately,” Ronay said.

Datavant first deidentifies its claims data so it can’t be used to reidentify specific patients. Blockgraph also anonymizes the TV subscriber and ad exposure data it gets from sellers and distributors.

Using Blockgraph’s clean room technology, Datavant matches the two data sets together to create measurement reporting for clients, which includes pharma advertisers and health care analytics vendors, such as PurpleLab.

Specifically, clients want to know how many new prescriptions were written as a result of a particular TV ad campaign, aka “script lift,” which Datavant measures. But making pharma campaigns more measurable should also help publishers and distributors make their inventory more attractive to pharma advertisers.

Measurement for pharma

Targeting is, however, very limited for pharma.

Data matches made between Datavant and Blockgraph go through an additional anonymization step before the reporting is sent to advertisers. While buyers can measure “script lift” at the household level (albeit anonymously), they don’t have a way to target an individual household based on claims or patient data without potential privacy risks. This limitation is why Blockgraph is staying focused on measurement.

Pharma ads are far more broadly targeted than ads in other verticals, said Manningham, noting that it’s not kosher to pinpoint specific households or audiences.

But measurement feeds into targeting, at least to an extent, because it helps pharma advertisers determine which programs, dayparts or demographics – such as age, gender, general location and stage of life – they should target for the best results, Manningham said.

And even slight improvements to campaign targeting can help limit some of the ad waste that pharma advertisers are all too familiar with, Ronay said.

Still, media buyers and sellers are reluctant to share details about how a partnership like the one between Blockgraph and Datavant will improve their pharma marketing strategy.

Blockgraph and Datavant weren’t able to make an advertiser or publisher client available for an interview or name advertisers that plan to use the solution available through this partnership.

According to Manningham, the first step is to gradually roll out its new offering to clients over the course of the next month. The next step, he said, will be to turn client awareness into ad dollars.

Update 7/12/24: A previous version of this article stated that media buyers can access Datavant’s insurance claims data as part of its partnership with Blockgraph. Datavant clarified that it does not have its own data, but gets claims data from partners such as PurpleLab, Prognos Health and Kythera Labs.

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