Digital Innovation

CTV Considerations for Pharma Brands

October 13, 2022 - by Melissa Ann Frye

Traditional TV has played a dominant role in pharma marketing due to its power in reaching mass audiences. This dynamic has evolved substantially with people streaming content more than ever and advertisers following patients where they are. As a result, pharma marketers have been grappling with striking the best balance of linear TV vs. Connected TV (CTV) and other streaming TV placements such as data-driven linear in their media plans.

Here are some considerations when embarking into CTV and solidifying plans for 2023:

  1. Use brand objectives to guide the way

One of the biggest questions that arises is if the linear TV ship should be completely abandoned given strong streaming trends. While CTV and linear both support awareness and demand objectives, CTV is more targeted and efficient. Brands must consider their specific objectives and budget levels to determine the best mix.  For example, large brands in highly competitive markets may choose to maintain a large linear presence with CTV, while smaller brands with limited budgets and different objectives may solely embark into CTV.

Given the strong data that supports CTV from an efficiency and ROI perspective, there is no reason to not spend in CTV if TV is being considered; however, a fully funded pilot can solidify the approach and further guide allocations. Sufficient pilot funding helps to ensure test goals can be fully measured and program can be appropriately scaled.

  1. Develop a solid targeting strategy

CTV campaigns are most effective when they are highly targeted. A recent Deep Intent study showed that CTV achieved 82% higher on-target reach and 50% higher audience quality than linear. In some cases, targeting also had a high audience quality when compared with other digital channels.1 Furthermore, CTV can leverage both 1st and 3rd party segments with many of the same 3rd party custom audiences as other digital tactics to increase performance. Re-targeting users that have visited your site on CTV is also an effective way of increasing brand engagement.

  1. Determine buying strategy – direct vs. programmatic

The inventory landscape is extremely fragmented and based on trends, this will only continue with Netflix adding opportunities in 2023. The automation of programmatic bidding allows precision in reaching targets which brings efficiencies that are tough to realize when buying direct.  Pharma CTV plans are most effective when they prioritize highly targeted programmatic placements. Paring programmatic and direct buys with partners like Roku and Hulu can help maximize reach and frequency.

  1. Measuring for success

Qualified reach and impact can be measured at a partner and target audience level in CTV, similarly to other digital tactics. Ensure that third-party measurement and tagging is structured to collect these key performance indicators to allow for optimization regularly to maximize business impact.


  1. Deep Intent. 2022. Looking Beyond Linear: How Pharma Marketers Can Capitalize on Connected TV in 2022 [White Paper]

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