How Can Pharma Brands Leverage CTV to Better Reach Adults 50 and Over?

By DeepIntent InSites Archives
Cover image for  article: How Can Pharma Brands Leverage CTV to Better Reach Adults 50 and Over?

The notion that connected TV (CTV) is mostly for younger audiences is a common one. It’s also wrong.

There are 52 million adults 55+ that stream online video content. This is 23% of the overall 225 million CTV user base, according to eMarketer.  As pharma marketers and their media agencies are continually looking for ways to ensure media investment leads to a business impact, this opportunity bears consideration. This, from a piece of research fielded by the healthcare DSP DeepIntent in partnership with the streaming giant Roku.

This column is about the key finding of this study. However, there is an opportunity for everyone to get the download first-hand on June 1 at DeepIntent’s virtual “Innovating with Intent” event at 10 a.m. ET. You can register here:

As we all know, pharma brands tend to focus on older demographics, because as we age, we’re more likely to have diagnosed medical conditions. Typically, the pharma marketing industry has always taken a conservative approach to paid media channel mix. At the risk of overly generalizing, pharma media plans tend to start with linear TV, then digital, then point-of-care, then whatever else can be afforded.

This is not an indictment of how pharma brands invest in media per se.  They operate in a regulated environment and the stakes are high where those regulations are not adhered to.

Pharma brands are, however, beginning to invest more and more in CTV but, some would argue, not to the opportunity based on the nascency of the medium and measurement. Well, according to Roku, the co-sponsor of this study, older adults comprising the heart of most pharma target audiences spend 56% of their time streaming. Two-thirds of survey respondents said they prefer to see CTV ads than to pay more to avoid them. In fact, the older the viewer, the more they prefer advertising-based streaming services.

Here are some more figures the research revealed: 79% of "silver streamers,” or CTV viewers 50 and over, stream, and 21% exclusively watch streaming content. This is not a new reality as 52% of silver streamers are streaming more than they did a year ago. Fifty-seven percent of them also maintain cable/satellite subscriptions, making them more likely than younger viewers to watch both linear and CTV.

Following the logic of the research, this means CTV will serve as a robust unique reach extender. According to Roku, 92% of all its Q3 2022 campaign reach was unique to linear TV. Similarly, DeepIntent had a campaign run where there was only 4% overlap between linear and CTV.

We are seeing the audience pharma brands covet is there in streaming -- and the reach metrics bear out that it is not an either/or situation when it comes to linear TV. There is room for both to coexist for the time being.

Now, because silver streamers are more likely to have a diagnosed condition, it would seem to make sense for pharma advertisers to find them on CTV. Not so, according to Roku. Streamers and cord-cutters have far lower pharma brand awareness compared to linear TV viewers.

Compounding this, adults 50+ look unfavorably when it comes to pharma ads’ relevance, with 40% scoring this as poor/very poor -- and adults under 50 scoring 40% excellent/good on relevance. What is behind this? Pharma advertisers may not be fully leveraging programmatic targetability to its fullest potential. Less relevancy translates into less action: Only 7% of adults 50+ booked an HCP appointment after seeing a pharma ad compared to 21% of adults under 50.

The data makes a strong case for pharma marketers to at minimum re-examine their linear and CTV investment strategy to ensure the spend is allocated in a way that has the best impact in the market. Purely from a media math perspective, the unduplicated reach CTV delivers requires marketers and their media agencies to think more progressively.

About the study: The sample size of 3,092 adults were surveyed online over eight days in March 2023. The data was cleansed then weighted to be representative of U.S. population.

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