Paid Media Strategies for Healthcare Advertising Success

by Andrew Schuler   |   May 30, 2024   |   Clock Icon 14 min read
A doctor in a white coat with a stethoscope around their neck is holding and using a tablet. The background is out of focus.

Even with the most skilled medical professionals, without patients, a healthcare company cannot thrive.

Beyond providing trustworthy, reliable care, healthcare organizations must focus on patient acquisition to attract clients and drive revenue.

But which marketing channels are the best for your healthcare practice?

Paid media advertising is one viable option to acquire new patients and build your healthcare business. In this blog, we’ll review the benefits of paid media and different types of ad campaigns to help you grow your practice through engaging content and detailed targeting practices.

What is Paid Media for Healthcare?

Unlike organic marketing channels like search engine optimization (SEO), paid media requires paying to display content to a target audience.

Paid media such as Google ads, Microsoft Ads, Meta, X, LinkedIn, and display ads, which we’ll cover more in-depth below, offer more advanced targeting options (interests, content engagement, etc.), allowing you to reach qualified users faster. These ads serve alongside the organic results in a user’s feed to meet them where they are and encourage them to engage with your content.

Benefits of Paid Media Advertising for Healthcare

Paid media may be more expensive than other forms of digital marketing, but the benefits can be worth it for your healthcare business.

More Targeting Options

Paid campaigns offer more targeting options to reach qualified users. You can set your audience based on demographics like age, location, or interests such as Health & Fitness buffs, health insurance, healthcare industry, and more.

Note: Targeting options must follow HIPAA regulations (see more on this below).

Faster Results

Increasing organic rankings can take time; with paid search tactics, you can gain visibility in SERPs faster. This helps you drive more traffic and acquire more patients in less time.

Analytics and Reporting

Paid campaigns offer more options to measure performance. You can track things like cost-per-conversion (CPA) or click-through rates (CTR). By integrating your own first-party data, you can also track results like the number of new patients acquired.

Healthcare marketing doesn’t have to be an either-or decision. Digital marketing strategies such as paid media and SEO can complement one another, so it can be wise to use a mix of both. Learn more about various options to promote your business and acquire more patients in our Healthcare Marketing Guide.

Types of Paid Media Advertising for Healthcare Providers

Understanding different types of paid media will help you choose the ones that are best for your business and your goals.

PPC & Search Engine Ads

Search engine ads are the paid results that appear at the top of SERPs, above the organic results. By bidding on keywords related to your services, your ads can appear when users search for those terms. You have the flexibility to bid on broad, phrase, or exact match keywords, which allows you to either maintain more control with exact match or cast a wider net with broad or phrase match.

Paid Search platforms such as Google Ads have many bidding strategies that you can leverage based on the goal of the campaign. Below is a bit more information on those paid search bidding strategies.

  • Target Cost Per Action (tCPA):
    • How it works: Google Ads automatically sets bids to help you get as many conversions as possible at the target CPA you set.

    • When to use: When you want to maximize conversions while maintaining a specific cost per action.

  • Target Return on Ad Spend (tROAS):
    • How it works: Google Ads sets bids to maximize conversion value while aiming for your target return on ad spend.

    • When to use: When you want to maximize the revenue from your ad spend rather than just conversions.

  • Maximize Conversions:
    • How it works: Google Ads sets bids to help you get the most conversions for your campaign while spending your budget.

    • When to use: When you want to quickly increase the number of conversions and you're flexible with the cost per conversion.

  • Maximize Conversion Value:
    • How it works: Google Ads sets bids to help you get the most conversion value for your campaign while spending your budget.

    • When to use: When you want to maximize the total value of conversions and you're flexible with the cost per conversion.

  • Maximize Clicks:
    • How it works: Google Ads sets bids to help you get the most clicks for your campaign while spending your budget.

    • When to use: When you want to increase site traffic and you're flexible with the cost per click.

  • Target Impression Share:
    • How it works: Google Ads automatically sets bids to help you achieve your impression share target.

    • When to use: When you want to increase brand visibility and ensure your ads appear in a specific percentage of auctions.

  • Enhanced Cost Per Click (eCPC):
    • How it works: Google Ads adjusts your manual bids to try to maximize conversions, while keeping your average CPC below your max CPC.

    • When to use: When you want to maintain control over your bids but want Google Ads to make small adjustments to improve performance.

  • Manual CPC Bidding:
    • How it works: You set bids at the ad group or keyword level, giving you full control over your maximum CPC.

    • When to use: When you want full control over your bids to control CPCs, or automated bidding methods are ineffective.

  • Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM):
    • How it works: You pay per thousand impressions, regardless of clicks or conversions.

    • When to use: On Display or YouTube Campaigns when your goal is to increase brand awareness and visibility.

  • Target CPM (tCPM):
    • How it works: Google Ads sets bids to help you achieve your target CPM.

    • When to use: On Display or YouTube Campaigns when you want to control your CPM costs while maximizing visibility.

  • Cost-Per-Thousand Viewable Impressions (vCPM):
    • How it works: You pay per thousand viewable impressions, where an impression is counted only when the ad is viewable.

    • When to use: On Display or YouTube Campaigns when you want to ensure your ads are seen and not just served, maximizing the value of your impressions.

Paid Social

Another option is paying for ads on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, X, and LinkedIn. Understanding which social platforms your target audience uses the most can help you decide where to invest in paid social media.

You can target users based on behavior, activity, and interests as well as create custom audiences using criteria like age, and location..

You can choose your ad placement for Facebook and Instagram. For example, do you want your ad to show on Facebook Messenger, Instagram Stories, or in the Newsfeed?

Ad placement depends on your campaign objective, ad type, and KPIs.

Display Ads

Display advertising helps you introduce your healthcare organization visually on different online platforms and encourages users to take a specific action, such as submitting a contact form or visiting your website or landing page.

Here are four types of display ads to consider to reach potential patients.

Banner Ads

Banner ads can appear at the top, bottom, or even on the sides of web pages; you may also see them in email newsletters. While your banner ads should include persuasive ad copy, they also need a compelling image or bold headline to grab users’ attention.

The goal is for a user to click on your banner ad to go to your website or a specific landing page.

Responsive Display Ads (RDAs)

Responsive Display Ads allow you to combine assets such as video, text, logos, and images, enabling Google AI to generate automated ads based on what it identifies as the winning combination. The benefits include automated optimization of ad variations, broader reach, time savings, and the ability to leverage feeds.

Native Ads

Native ads are designed to match the style of the website or app that they are being served on. Many users interact with these ads daily without even knowing it is paid advertising.

Native ads include in-feed content, content recommendations, and branded content.

Interstitial Ads

Unlike display and pop-up ads, which appear in a specific location or at a certain time, interstitial ads cover the entire screen of a website.

Interstitial ads can include images or videos and commonly appear when a user waits for a webpage to load.

Rich Media Ads

Rich media ads let you incorporate interactive elements like video or audio, quizzes, or forms, making them more engaging than other ads.

Video Ads

While you can incorporate videos in other ads, you can also invest in video advertising on platforms like YouTube.

There are a few different types of video ads to choose from:

  • In-stream: These show up within a YouTube video. You can create skippable or non-skippable in-stream ads.

  • Bumper: These play before, during, or after another video. They are 6 seconds or shorter, and users cannot skip these ads.

  • In-feed: These show up next to related YouTube videos or in YouTube search results.

Creating Successful Advertising Campaigns for Your Healthcare Practice via Paid Media

Understanding the different types of paid media is the first step, but you should learn best practices for creating campaigns to get the most out of your investment.

Best Practices for PPC Ads

Do Thorough Keyword Research

To create the most effective PPC campaigns, you must determine the terms your potential patients are searching for. Pay special attention to long-tail keywords with high intent, which means a user is more likely to take action.

For example, keywords like “orthopedic doctor near me” or “dentist accepting new patients” are more intent-driven than general keywords like “dentist” or “doctor.”

Competitor Research

Understanding where your brand fits in the market is crucial, and conducting competitor research can help you devise a stronger strategy. By leveraging tools such as Semrush or AdClarity, you can gain valuable insights into your competitors' strategies from a paid media perspective. These tools give you insight into estimated spend, keywords they are bidding on, channel coverage, and more.

Write Compelling Ad Copy

Creating compelling, persuasive ad copy can influence a user to click through to your site vs. another result. Highlight the benefits you offer, including convenience or proximity, specialized services, and experience and expertise. Use the copy from your site to help improve the quality of your search results. Search engines, especially Google, will refer to your landing page to ensure that the content matches.

Include a strong call to action (CTA) to encourage a searcher to take a desired action, such as contacting your office or scheduling a free consultation.

Optimize Your Landing Page

Users need to get the most relevant, useful information when clicking on your ads. Ensure your desktop and mobile landing pages are optimized for users to take action by including contact forms or click-to-call buttons. Make sure that the user coming to your landing page has an option to convert without scrolling to the bottom of the page. Don't make them scour the whole page to find it. It’s ok to have multiple conversion touchpoints throughout their experience!

Best Practices for Paid Social

Running successful paid campaigns on social media requires choosing qualified audience segments and creating ads that appeal to them.

Audience Segmentation

Don’t just send your ads to everyone; use the segmenting features to target qualified users who are more likely to take action based on their interests, behaviors, location, and more.

Tailor Messaging for Your Audience Segments

Your content should not be generic or broad. Instead, create specific content for each audience segment. Incorporate elements like video or infographics to give users more insight into your brand. You can also use patient testimonials to build trust and credibility for potential patients. You want your content to have an organic feel. Using the latest social media trends and patient testimonials is great for this.

Looking for more tips? Learn more about using social media advertising for business growth.

Best Practices for Display Ads

Create Visually Appealing Ads

Your ads should capture a user’s attention and convey your message effectively. Incorporate images and include clear, concise copy.

Use Contextual Targeting

Contextual targeting allows you to match your ads to relevant sites in the Display Network based on keywords or themes.

Google Ads offers these recommendations to create contextually targeted campaigns:

  • Each ad group should have specific themes related to the services you offer, with unique creative/ad copy for each theme

  • Each ad group should have between 5 - 50 keywords

  • Add negative keywords so your ads don’t show up for irrelevant searches

  • Use conversion tracking to measure performance

  • Utilize a blend of creative types (video, static images, and ad copy)

  • Review and optimize your ads frequently and make adjustments as needed

  • Review and optimize your audiences regularly to ensure that your ads are reaching your target audience

Best Practices for Video Ads

With YouTube Ads, you can target users who have searched for or watched videos related to your healthcare services and are more likely to be interested in your video.

YouTube has various targeting options to help you reach the most relevant, qualified users.

  • Demographics. You can reach users based on general demographics, like age or gender, or create audience segments around detailed demographics like behaviors, interests, marital status, education, and more.

  • Affinity audiences. These are groups of customers with similar interests. You can select categories like lifestyle and hobbies or beauty and wellness.

  • In-market audiences. This option allows you to target users with higher intent because they are already researching services related to your practice.

Understanding HIPAA Regulations for Paid Media

Healthcare providers and their marketing teams must take caution to avoid disclosing personal health information (PHI). This includes personally identifiable information such as names, dates, phone numbers, and addresses.

Some healthcare content cannot be advertised at all and some content is only permitted if the advertiser is certified with Google and only targets approved countries. HIPAA regulations also restrict some demographic, audience, and retargeting options.

To avoid penalties and to ensure your advertising is compliant, work with a team that understands paid media best practices and Google’s advertising policies for healthcare and medicine.

If you found this blog post useful for navigating Paid Media Advertising in healthcare, be sure to explore our comprehensive guide, 'From Patient to Advocate: Your Healthcare Marketing Guide' This guide covers everything from Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Analytics to HIPAA compliance and more!

Acquire More Patients and Grow Your Healthcare Business With Paid Media

Results from paid media campaigns may not be instantaneous but they can be faster than SEO or other marketing channels. To create successful advertising campaigns, you must understand your audience, the types of ads to use, and how to customize your messaging to reach potential patients. You must also consistently monitor and update your campaigns to maximize performance.

Need help getting started? Contact our team to learn more about our paid media services.

Portrait of Andrew Schuler

Andrew Schuler

After graduating from Stetson University in 2019 with a B.S. in Communications and Media Studies, Andrew started his career managing paid media accounts for a large digital marketing agency in southern VA. He joined Workshop Digital in May 2023 to utilize his passion for digital marketing to drive impactful results for his clients.

As a new resident of Raleigh, Andrew spends his free time exploring the city with friends, hiking the trails nearby, and attending concerts downtown.