While the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act registration is at the center of the US government shutdown and has faced criticism over technology glitches this week, healthcare-oriented contextual ad network Precision Health said its expansion into real-time bidding and "audience extension" through AppNexus has gone off without a hitch.
Precision Health's work with AppNexus has been in the works for six months and was officially debuted about three weeks ago. It lets Precision Health's ad buyers, which include Publicis Groupe's Razorfish Healthware unit, look beyond the 220 sites in the vertical ad network to the millions of pages flowing through AppNexus.
CEO Bill Jennings said Precision Health's positioning as a "platform" company has eclipsed its profile as an ad network.
"There are a lot of ad networks that can represent health-related publishers' ad inventory, but with this full integration with AppNexus, we're able to access spots in real time and place the ad in less than 10 milliseconds," Jennings said. "This is a fully programmatic solution – and all based on contextual targeting, not cookies and behavior."
There are numerous restrictions on the targeting over-the-counter and prescription health care brands can do. Suffice it to say, behavioral targeting generally isn't acceptable for the obvious reason that sickness and wellness issues are among the most concerning topics when it comes to online privacy.
As a result, pharmaceutical advertising, though one of the largest categories of TV spending, has been fairly absent from ad exchanges.
Brian Werner, media director for Razorfish Healthware, confirmed that a year ago there wasn't any real option in the exchange space for pharma marketers.
"The collaboration of Precision Health and AppNexus gives us many more options in contextually relevant places above and beyond what Precision Health was able to do with the 220 sites in its network," Werner said. "I'm sure our health ads have been showing up on exchanges' pages before, but it's largely been by accident, not design. Now, we can do it on purpose. There are a lot of sites that the exchanges might represent, but we can choose the sites based on the quality of the performance as scored by Precision Health."
Precision Health, which was founded as Good Health Media close to six years ago, began expanding from its vertical ad network roots about three years ago. It began a range of self-serve options and analytics based on contextual relevance.
It created a PageMatch private marketplace as a way to promise health care marketers a degree of targeting, while steering clear of the privacy tripwires associated with RTB and exchanges. Precision Health initiated talks with AppNexus, which offered to work with it on page-level targeting according to context.
"For two years, we've been focused on page-level analysis and scoring pages on the quality of the content and their traffic performance," Jennings said. "Through AppNexus, we've been able to expand into page-level targeting on exchanges. Page-level targeting isn't a concept without the exchanges, where you can elect to run on the specific pages you want. We rank the order of pages that we would like to buy for each category. So if it's a condition like COPD or weight-loss, we know which are the right pages to target and we can access that through AppNexus."
Precision Health is in talks with several other exchange operators about collaboration – AppNexus claims access to 15 billion impressions daily – as long as the targeting remains contextual and cookie-free.
In the nine months that PrecisionHealth has been operating its PageMatch private marketplace, the company claims that click-through rates for customers have increased 20-30% over the course of an average campaign.
"It's too early to talk about the success with AppNexus, but we expect those trends to look even better as more inventory becomes available," Jennings said.