The other day while trolling around the internet in the world of healthcare, I came across an interesting social media infographic: 41 percent of patients say social media affects hospital choice courtesy of healthcarecommunicatons.com. I thought that factoid was pretty interesting. Then I started thinking about the connection of this factoid to native advertising.
If you not familiar with the term “native advertising”, the simplest way to explain the concept is that it’s online advertising that seeks to gain attention by providing content in the context of the social media or online user’s experience. Native advertisement fits the form and function of the user’s experience in which it is placed.
Now given that 41 percent of people are using social media to choose a hospital and that number will grow over time, native advertising offers healthcare providers a large target audience rich environment to reach with relevant brand content woven into the context of the user experience. I am assuming of course in this statement that social media utilization by healthcare marketers is becoming more diversified, creative, and contextually appropriate to their brand.
That assumption may be debatable, but if a healthcare provider is ignoring social media and using the medium solely as a billboard for the warm fuzzy quality and we’re the best messaging when the market is evolving to a semi-retail model based on price and quality, well, they are missing an opportunity to build brand and revenue.
But I digress. So what does native adverting look like? Let’s start with what it is not.
Native advertising is not advertorial advertising. It is not an ad box. It is not automated.
Now let’s look at what native advertising is. Native advertising integrates high quality content in the user experience. It is delivered in stream and does not interrupt the user experience but adds to that experience. It is selective, remaining true to the brand in the context of the user experience.
If you are looking for examples of native adverting take a look at Facebook, The Washington Post, and the NY Times. Oh and I would suggest that you hire an agency. Native advertising is not easy and is the next big wave in 2014 to come crashing down on under-resourced healthcare provider marketing departments.
You will need to do the market research to understand the social media habits of the particular healthcare audience segment in your marketing plan. One will need to segment the social media native advertising efforts because one size does not fit all. The content that is developed may fit in and work well on Facebook, but not on Google+ or LinkedIn as an example.
It should be remembered that native advertising should be used in an integrated fashion within the marketing mix of the organizational efforts with direct mail, trade shows, programs, thought leadership, advertisements, public relations etc.
Native advertising offers the healthcare provider the opportunity to standout within the context of the use experience. And when so much time and attention is given to the healthcare consumers experience, shouldn’t that be extended to the advertising experience as well?
I leave it up to you to decide if healthcare provider's are ready for native advertising.