Beyond Cookies: Leveraging Contextual AI in Healthcare Marketing

Updated on May 19, 2024

When it comes to improving personal health, most people start their journey online before stepping foot in a doctor’s office.

According to a 2023 survey, Americans used online information to self-diagnose their symptoms an average of four times in the past year, and pre-pandemic, Google estimated that 7% of daily searches on their platform were health-related queries.

As a result, healthcare and pharmaceutical-related digital ad spend is expected to reach $19.66 billion USD by the end of 2024.

But with the impending phase-out of 3rd-party cookies, increased regulatory scrutiny, and ongoing consumer privacy concerns, it’s never been harder for healthcare marketers to target ads to the right audience.

That’s where contextual AI comes in.

Contextual targeting, which serves ads based on the content it appears in or alongside rather than a user’s browsing history or demographic information, has existed as an advertising strategy for decades. 

But recent advancements in AI and machine learning are making it easier than ever for healthcare marketers to reach audiences in real time and do so in a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant way without using personal identifiers.

Here are three reasons why every healthcare marketer should leverage contextual AI if they want to future-proof their programmatic campaigns.

1. Contextual AI is Privacy Focused and Compliant 

Compliance is essential in healthcare marketing. Even the slightest slip-up could spell disaster.

Under HIPAA regulations, marketers must adopt strategies that safeguard patient and consumer data with the highest privacy and security standards or risk substantial fines, penalties, and reputational damage.

That’s why, as technology and privacy regulations evolve, more advertisers are turning to contextual targeting and AI to remain compliant with HIPAA while still reaching their target audiences.  

Contextual AI targeting solutions allow healthcare marketers to target ads based on particular phrases and keywords that appear in specific articles on a publisher’s website. This allows healthcare marketers to target audiences when they’re already thinking about a topic, even if it’s sensitive, without relying on 3rd-party cookies or other identifiers, helping them serve highly-relevant ads while remaining compliant.

2. It’s Brand Safe

In the healthcare industry, trust is paramount. If an ad appears in an unsuitable environment, it could have a long-lasting, negative impact on a brand’s reputation. 

For example, if an ad for diabetes medication used to induce weight loss appeared next to an article about food insecurity, it would undoubtedly tarnish a brand’s integrity. The same would happen if an ad were placed on a page spreading misinformation about adverse side effects for a specific type of medication or unregulated alternatives.

Contextual AI reduces the risk of ads appearing alongside harmful or inappropriate content by using machine learning to analyze text on a webpage to understand its full context and meaning. Along with using a DSP that actively vets and creates inclusion lists of approved domains and inventory, this helps ensure ads get placed in suitable environments that align with a brand’s messaging and core values.

3. Contextual AI Improves Brand Reach and Performance

With fewer addressable identifiers in the market due to the ongoing deprecation of 3rd-party cookies and privacy regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), healthcare marketers are wondering how they can continue getting the reach they’re accustomed to in a post-cookie landscape.

Thankfully, with ID-less targeting solutions, such as contextual AI, healthcare marketers can achieve the same, if not better, results by delivering relevant ads to the right audiences based on what’s being searched in real time, effectively scaling their campaigns while also driving performance.

Context is Everything 

As the use of 3rd-party cookies continues to crumble, contextual AI is emerging as an essential tool for healthcare marketers. It ensures that campaigns continue to reach the right audiences and remain effective and compliant, even with enhanced privacy regulations and scrutiny. With contextual AI, healthcare brands and providers can maintain consumer trust and enhance the longevity of their advertising efforts well into the cookieless future.

Jasmaan Panesar
Jasmaan Panesar
Senior Manager, Solutions at StackAdapt
Jasmaan is a Senior Manager, Solutions at StackAdapt, specializing in measurement solutions and performance. He works with various teams to provide strategic recommendations for clients to achieve their business goals through programmatic advertising. Jasmaan has vast experience working with clients on foot traffic attribution studies.