Healthcare Marketing: New Ways to Buy Broadcast Media

Both television and radio are providing opportunities to place ads in precise contextual locations to maximize effectiveness.     

The usual way to purchase broadcast is to buy a Run Of Station schedule or specific programming/dayparts matching the program audience with the brand’s target audience.  But recently, there have been even more narrowly specific conceptual targeting options available in broadcast.

Here are a few examples:

  • TIAA CREF uses a song by Lady Antebellum, “I Run To You” as the music for one of the company’s ads.  In the recent ABC’s Country Music Association Awards show, the spot appeared immediately after the band preformed the song on national television during the show.

  • Allstate Insurance ran a spot focusing on teen driving in a special episode of “Friday Night Lights” devoted to the same subject.

  • Radio listeners heard ads for AC/DC’s “Black Ice” album sold exclusively at Wal-Mart immediately after an AC/DC song was played.

  • Geico illustrated its “save 15%” brand message on radio by airing 15-second spot after other ads for cars, motorcycles and RVs and by running spots at 15 minutes past the hour.

These all represent creative ways to place spots in a context that supports the brand’s message. It is not an easy thing to accomplish.  And some media outlets are still resistant to such precise spot targeting.  But with media revenues down in a tough economy, more media properties are open to specific contextual targeting.

In fact, Clear Channel Radio has introduced a new service that uses contextual placement.  “Over the years we’ve really built up proper systems to speak in one voice with programmers and automate these programs for advertisers,” stated Jeff Howard, Clear Channel’s president of radio sales.

With new possibilities like the ones cited above, creative media buying can make buys much more effective.


Hospital Marketers Should Learn From Retailers: Holidays are Social (Media)

Over half of national retail advertisers embraced social media as part of their media mix for the 2009 holidays.

Just two years ago, only 4% of national retail advertisers utilized social media in their marketing strategies.  But in 2009 more than half  embraced social media.   According to a survey by BDO Seidman, of those retailers using social media, 76% are focusing on Facebook, 50% on Twitter, 14% on MySpace and 14% on YouTube.

Natalie Zmuda and Kunur Patel wrote in the December 7th issue of Advertising Age that Facebook was the second most visited site in the US on Black Friday.  And on that day “4.3% of Facebook users and 2.3% Twitter users visited the website of a top 500 retailer immediately after perusing the social-network site.”

Some of the retailers Zmuda and Patel cited as successfully using social network sites were Best Buy, ebay, JC Penney, Toy ‘R ‘Us and Wal-Mart.  These retailers used a combination of giveaways, support for traditional advertising, customer service, charitable donations and promotion of online specials.  Amazon, Abercrombie and Fitch, Kohl’s, Old Navy and Target were listed as retailers who did not do such a great job utilizing social media.  Their various sins were lack of coordination with traditional media, lack of holiday specials, unanswered consumer complaints and unchecked pages.

This gives a microcosm of how extensive social media is used both successfully and poorly by retailers.  Lessons are abundant for healthcare marketers:


  • Social media is a viable option and should be included in a hospital’s marketing strategy.   As can be seen by the dramatic growth in the use of social media, retailers are way ahead in recognizing the value and importance of social networking.
  • When done right, social media can be very effective.  It can create and enhance relationships with consumers.  It can create an ongoing conversation with consumers. 
  • When done poorly, social media can damage a brand.  When a brand isn’t active and engaged and doesn’t respond to consumer comments it sends a message that it’s not consumer-focused.

Social media is growing.  Brands are recognizing the value and benefits of engaging in social media.  Hospital marketers can learn valuable lessons.  Retailers have taught us that indeed the holidays are very social.