With programmatic advertising rapidly evolving, the pharma marketing world is going to become much more targeted, dynamic and diverse, as has been occurring in the retail and movie industries with players such as Amazon and Netflix.

Passing on the messaging for various drugs, diseases and physician tools across multiple digital marketing channels is something that the big pharma industry players have been focused on intensively over the past decade. GlobalData believes that the ability to promote a brand’s story or raise awareness of a disease will evolve further into a more personalised form, where patients and physicians can be fully engaged by a customised experience via the media format that is most suitable for them.

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With an increasing focus on personalised medicine, it is recognised that pharma marketing must take a more personalised shape. The pharma industry has been going through a transformation, giving up on the blockbuster “one drug fits all” approach, and thus with drugs being developed for much more targeted patient pools, personalised marketing will be inevitable.

It is critical to engage a patient who requires specific information by using the right channels—channels that would, for example, offer them assessment tools for an early diagnosis and help them decide on the next steps, like picking the right physician tool.

Digital infrastructure development will play hand-in-hand with the evolution of digital marketing. The huge advances in artificial intelligence and big data will help transform the marketing data into actionable behavioural insights. For example, pharmacy prescription data and ICD-10 codes could be used to access highly targeted and challenging patient profiles.

Although marketing departments in many industries are now allocating more than half their digital advertising budgets to programmatic advertising, pharma marketing is only dedicating up to 5% of their budgets to this.

One great hurdle that the pharma industry is facing in this journey towards personalised marketing is the concern around personal data privacy. However, tech giants such as Google are still able to deliver personalised ads to customers around the world, despite the recently introduced General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe. With Big Pharma also being quite experienced with protecting customer privacy, the partnership between these two big industries—pharma and tech—should be able to eventually overcome those hurdles.