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Modernizing Media Strategies


Brave New World

As the U.S. moves from managing COVID-19 to managing a recovery, it is clear that the pandemic lockdowns had a profound impact on how people consume media and how they receive healthcare information, and their expectations changed around how brands connect with them. For marketers, building brand value with customers will be tantamount to marketing success in this brave new world.

COVID-19 accelerated digital transformation in healthcare for both patients and HCPs—what could have taken a decade happened in a mere few months. It also led to further media fragmentation, impeding the delivery of a single and coherent value proposition to customers. New complexity will be introduced by future changes in the technology space and for privacy issues. Brands and media agencies will need new ways to think about customer engagement.

Shifted Expectations and Behaviors 

Patients now expect easier access to their healthcare information but want to maintain their privacy. They expect technology to provide more custom and meaningful experiences.

Technology has also impacted how HCPs engage with brands and with their patients. It is vital for brands to understand how telemedicine and EMR marketing can help engage HCP audiences and improve patient outcomes.

The level and types of access the pharma sales force has to HCPs has permanently changed; there is greater reliance on digital resources that provide HCPs with choices around when and how they engage with educational content. Mainstays like email and trusted peer journals, whether digital or in a traditional paper format, have grown in importance due to their inherent flexibility for busier-than-ever and often exhausted HCPs.

Digital video has increased in importance to pharmaceutical marketers for both audiences. It has become the platform of choice to provide education, and of course, entertainment. 

Increased connected TV consumption by patients also reflects shifted consumer preferences for engagement. For HCPs, the gap left by a lack of access to traditional education resources like the pharmaceutical sales force and conferences has led to a penchant for digitized resources online. Both patients and HCPs expect that content is always readily available in a video format.

Tooling for the Future

This landscape shift is happening with a horizon that promises further data deprecation. The combination of expected new privacy regulations, a cookieless future, and walled gardens—where only the content providers (eg, Google, Facebook) own the data—creates a challenging situation for marketers! For consumer marketing, it means less Wild West and more carefully cultivated communities to reach, educate, and influence.

GTO believes that these changes will represent a challenge for 1:1 marketing. The future will require a sophisticated set of solutions to maintain audience engagement. Initially it might seem like a hodgepodge of solutions for marketers and media buyers to unwrap, but those who apply rigorous testing and learning to hone their engagement strategies will offer brands a competitive advantage. 

Importance of Relationship Building 

Concurrently, marketers will need to provide more choice and value to develop customer relationships. That may begin with a re-think on what constitutes a meaningful digital media engagement. Microtargeting, custom propositions, and ongoing trusted engagements will be more important than ever.


Media strategies will need to be built to activate more wholly on mid- and lower-funnel engagements, where relationship building is key. There will be a need to better integrate channel strategy with content strategy to determine the right combinations of messages and optimal UX that will lead to an enhanced customer experience.