How the pendulum swings and evolves for healthcare advertising

Healthcare advertising is changing, as marketers, we must change with it

An email recently bounced around our agency with a link to an article about the end of advertising as we know it. A healthy debate then ensued among a bunch of S&Jers. Are consumers turning away from disruptive advertising? If so, are we finding new ways to reach these audiences?  Feel free to read the article in question as it posits an interesting point of view. But it was our internal discussion that really sparked my interest.

Comments via our email exchange ranged from sarcastic, “thanks for cheering me up” to intellectual “super interesting and important to keep an eye on.” But, before anyone panics, it’s worth noting that the author of the article works for a firm that is actively trying to eat the lunch of ad agencies. It’s in their interest to cast doubt on current advertising models. 

It’s also worth remembering how adoption curves work.

Long story short: if screen-less interactions become the norm, then we have time to adjust. As the idea of interruption-less ads gains steam, content (especially video content) will gain value. Marketing in micro-movements will become the norm. People will want to interact with your brand when they have a need for your service. Your goal is to be there for them when they need you; not the other way around.

That doesn’t mean advertising is losing its pulse. About 20 years ago they said print was dead too. But it didn’t die — it evolved. If anything, niche magazines are cropping up everywhere. Now, with the advent of fake news, we’re realizing the value of solid reporting. People, once again, are willing to pay for good content and subscriptions to newspapers (while mostly online) are up.

Musicians weren’t earning a great living with the growth of MP3s and free streaming services. Did they panic? Nope, instead, they packed up their bags and hit the road. They used to go on tour to promote a new album, but now artists are creating albums to promote tours.  The value of the live experience has returned. We are creating new models for marketing consumption and reinventing old ones.

Big box stores are losing revenue to online shopping, yet small entrepreneurs are providing a one-of-a-kind, personalized shopping experiences. These boutiques are becoming more relevant every day. The pendulum swings. New interruptions will excite and then normalize until things evolve again.

As healthcare marketers, we have to keep watch of the pendulum and evolve, too. Not only how we market, but what we are marketing. Healthcare models are changing for an on-demand society that wants a specific experience, The pendulum is swinging back – sort of. Telemedicine, if you think about it, is a new model for the old “making a house call.” You might not get the same doctor, physician assistant or nurse practitioner every time, but you don’t have to leave home.

Then there is the subscription-based model. This doctor will be there by appointment for your preventative care over the phone or via video chat. Or, you can text him anytime for a quick answer. Personalized, on-demand care in your home or wherever you are. What’s next?So, no, I don’t think advertising is nearing its end. It will evolve and grow as it has since its inception. Understanding what people need is what we do. Staying ahead of the curve is how we do it.