Accent on health and geotargeting

AccentHealth is a media network that provides health-related and educational content, produced by CNN, in 12,300 doctors’ waiting rooms in the U.S. and claims an annual viewership of 173 million people.

The programming within AccentHealth tends to focus on promoting a health and wellness lifestyle

Over the past two years, the company began geotargeting ads in its network to promote businesses within a three-to-five mile radius of each waiting room.

Direct Marketing News spoke with Andrew Schulman, the company’s VP of marketing, and Gina Metsker, the company’s marketing manager, about AccentHealth’s targeting strategies. “We’ve seen trends where advertisers aren’t looking to search the ocean,” Metsker explained. “They want targeting.”

Consequently, AccentHealth currently has what it calls a “Retail Finder,” which engages a waiting room audience about various retail locations within a certain radius, and “Pharmacy Finder.” The finder lets customers see where the nearest pharmacy is. The Retail Finder initiative, according to Metsker, began ramping up over the past two years; Pharmacy Finder began one year ago.

“What makes us really powerful is you’re sitting in the waiting room, watching the show, and see an ad for the pharmacy,” Schulman said. “You’ll probably need a prescription or go do some shopping and [the ads] will tell you the closest location: the distance, the address, and the phone number.”  

DMN: To what do you attribute the growth of AccentHealth’s geotargeting?

Schulman: It was a great capability, but we didn’t know how to package it [to advertisers]. We could serve up ads, but to serve up a package, we use Pharmacy Finder and Retail Finder. The way I’d explain it is we wanted to make it a turnkey solution for our retailers knowing we can hit them down to the office and get the consumer that they want. So how do we make it relevant to them? Pharmacy Finder and Retail Finder are things that make sense to the waiting room patient and consumer. They also make sense to the ecosystem that surrounds the office.

DMN: Do people really want to run errands after visiting the doctor?

Schulman: We have insights into the patient. We have a panel of over 4,000 viewers where we do surveys and polling. We found that seven out of ten go shopping after their appointment. That’s a total benefit to our retail partner. How do we drive traffic?

DMN: Are your enterprise-customers generally local businesses or are they large enterprises?

Schulman: We deal with national brands trying to engage regionally and locally.

DMN: What considerations did you have to deal with as you rolled out Retail Finder and Pharmacy Finder?

Schulman: The first was how do you creatively display the ads? We have the [brand customers’] information and we can deliver it in a clean and unique way. But we had to bring the brand sensibility in the ad itself. It’s been rather easy as we work with those retailers to get those locations so we know where to apply that asset so it’s relevant.

Metsker: When we were rolling out [Retail and Pharmacy Finder], we were looking at how long the ads should be on screen and the optimal number of retail locations to display. We also had to look at how far are consumers willing to travel. We were nailing down an ideal trade radius.

DMN: It seems the upper limit is five miles.

Metsker: It’s about five miles. What we always consider is, you don’t know where someone’s home is in relation to a doctor’s office. You want all the traits there that could be relevant.

DMN: Does that radius vary from location to location?

Metsker: In New York, that five-mile radius is a little far, but in suburbia it’s natural. We can adapt to the buying environment and location. We have partners only interested in an urban environment. Others only interested in Manhattan. It varies based on the needs of our clients.

DMN: How about attribution? How do you know whether an ad has been effective?

Schulman: We do extensive research in terms of ad impact and effectiveness. We have a tool where we can build research into the programming itself.

DMN: How so?

Schulman: Consumers in the waiting room will see the ad, then they’ll go online. We have surveys that measure the awareness, the intent-to-purchase, and how they feel about that brand. Everything we do is grounded in research.

DMN: How do you snag those survey-takers?

Schulamn: The survey would be promoted on air, or it’s an intercept. We’ve done intercepts where you’re leaving the office and we offer a chance to win a prize if you take the survey. Or we embed a billboard into the show that says, “Hey we want to learn more about you. Please log onto such-and-such.” There will be questions about what you recalled.

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