Posted By WebMD Ignite on 03/12/2024

3 Tips for Getting the Most out of Your Advertising Spend in 2024: Part I

3 Tips for Getting the Most out of Your Advertising Spend in 2024: Part I

Editor's Note: This article is the first in a three-part series looking at how healthcare marketers can strategically use their advertising spend amid the unique challenges the market will face in 2024. 

It’s only February and yet it feels as if the sprint to the finish of 2024 has already begun. Between the Presidential election, hotly contested races between down-ballot candidates, and even issue-oriented political advertising, your media budgets are going to be stretched to the breaking point this year. Why? Because ad spending for these events is projected to set new records. 

According to a GroupM forecast report, political ad spending is expected to reach over $17 billion this year.1 This may sound higher than other estimates you’ve seen, but it takes into account a number of channels other surveys don’t, e.g., direct mail and digital-out-of-home (DOOH), and includes political action committee and advocacy group spending as well. This influx of cash is going to drive up the cost to reach consumers and crimp a lot of budgets, almost certainly including yours. So how do you deal with this surge in rates while maintaining a strong voice in your market(s)? 

To help healthcare marketers solve this challenge, we solicited the opinions of a few experts from our healthcare marketing solutions strategy and consulting team, WebMD Ignite Activation. They shared their insights from decades of experience in both traditional media and digital marketing, and provided a few pointers about how you can cut through the noise and continue to get your all-important messaging not only out there, but noticed. 

In this three-part series, we’ll start by helping identify how to leverage audience focus to mitigate higher rates. Subsequent posts will discuss finding media outlets that won’t price gouge and that limit or exclude political advertising, and how to time and pace your campaigns based on your market’s political calendar and specific context. We’ll also have some tips for health plan marketers as well. 

Tip #1: Find your audience with more specific channels and tactics. 

For healthcare advertisers, this can start by targeting those who are embarking on a specific healthcare journey — those with real needs — versus a broad demographic. “While it might seem counterintuitive to pay for targeted media when prices are high, a good way to do it is to focus on programmatic targeting for digital audiences and using endemic media, or ads placed alongside premium and sponsored content on contextually relevant, robust, high-quality publisher websites,” says Lindsey Weissenbach, MSM, Manager, Programmatic Strategy and Technology at WebMD Ignite. 

“These are a great option, as these ads contextually align with the content and sites they’re placed on, and help you reach the people most likely to be interested in your services,” Weissenbach added. By speaking directly to hand-raisers, programmatic can offer efficient ad buying with the ability to make real-time adjustments, while endemic advertising can result in increased ad relevance and higher conversion rates. 

In terms of reaching your audience, data and technology are your allies. Use market and patient-specific data, especially if you have a healthcare CRM with risk-modeling capabilities. Consumer demand models help you target just the relevant individuals — avoiding wasteful spending in an expensive media environment. Armed with specific audience targeting information, you can create an integrated campaign, one that includes direct mail and email. Designed with specific health consumer pathways in mind, precise targeting and segmented messaging helps you maximize your ROI potential. 

“Everyone tends to concentrate on acquisition, but remember the importance of retention,” suggests Nora Simmons, Executive Director, Strategic Consulting & Marketing at WebMD Ignite. Maintain regular communications with existing or former health consumers. By providing relevant content, resources, and reminders, you foster an ongoing relationship that generates the highest possible consumer lifetime value. 

“Another key audience tactic, while consumers are being over-saturated with messaging, is to pursue advertising efforts targeted at physicians and other healthcare providers that strongly influence consumers’ healthcare decisions,” says Simmons. “This may prove to have a stronger ROI.” Up your outreach and engagement with the healthcare providers, specialists, and employer groups that are most influential to your brand and core services. Work with your analysts to examine current market and provider trends to create hyper-targeted outreach. Relative to costs to target consumers, reaching providers should be far less impacted (if at all) by excess political spending. 

Another tactic is to think both inside and outside. Inside, one of the best (and least expensive) places to advertise is within the four walls of your organization. Use videos and custom messaging at bedside, in your waiting areas, or anywhere that’s appropriate to this captive audience. Outside, strengthen your commitment to community through engagement, education, and content marketing. These can be effective ways to generate traffic and positively influence perception of your brand. 

A final thought (for now) 

Without a doubt, it’s going to be a very noisy, very expensive year. Yet that doesn’t mean you can’t engage and convert prospects. You’ll just have to think beyond the norm, and be a bit more creative than in a “typical” year. By finding the right audiences (and taking into account the additional recommendations we’ll provide in the coming weeks), 2024 can be a banner year for reach, influence, and improving health outcomes in your market.

Have questions about anything you read here? Simply reach out to Max Dobbs at


1The Guardian. Record $15.9bn in US political ad spending expected for 2024.

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