How to Protect Data Privacy and Boost Attribution Accuracy in Healthcare Marketing – Adweek

By Anna Clement, Director of Healthcare

While digital marketers across all industries are dealing with a range of new, privacy-centric changes to ad tech measurement and attribution, healthcare marketers must layer on the even-stricter requirements of HIPAA. But their digital campaigns still have to be both efficient and effective while meeting consumer demands for personalization.
What’s a healthcare advertiser to do?
A growing number of healthcare brands now rely on streaming audio and podcasts to achieve both upper- and lower-funnel campaign success. The reason? Digital audio is one of the rare mediums that offers HIPAA-compliant measurement capabilities.
One of the most effective means of measuring campaign performance while remaining HIPAA-compliant is probabilistic modeling. This method uses machine learning to gauge campaign effectiveness without jeopardizing privacy. It uses signals that are both publicly available and devoid of user-specific attributes (user agent, OS/version, etc.) to link an ad exposure to a conversion event.
This means that no special identifier has been developed that can be used to track users over time and across different websites, providing customers and advertisers with a solution that respects their privacy. 
Digital audio is one of the rare mediums that offers HIPAA-compliant measurement capabilities.
Because of this, healthcare marketers are strongly encouraged to collaborate with media companies that place a high priority on this strategy. For instance, SXM Media collaborates with independent measurement companies to offer a cookie-free measurement option that is activated by a single ad tag.
So, what, exactly, does this method entail? Consider the following example: Often, a third-party pixel is added to a health system’s appointment registration page, where it stays throughout a streaming audio ad campaign.
This enables the healthcare advertiser to evaluate the success of a campaign without exposing sensitive data. The pixel never follows the user to gather or mine data (for instance, this pixel would never appear on a consumer’s MyChart portal page). The pixel simply remains on the website page and determines whether the user was exposed to the audio in question. If the answer is ‘yes,’ the conversion is accounted for—that’s all. 
Because it maximizes the accuracy of campaign attribution while preventing the creation of a distinctive, persistent or permanent identifier that can be used to identify a user and/or device, such probabilistic modeling is perfect for healthcare marketers. According to this model, a user’s identity only exists in relation to the campaign; it cannot be used to follow a user across different campaigns, websites or the entire Internet.
Using these techniques and probabilistic modeling, advertisers can strengthen the accuracy of campaign attribution while limiting the impact on the privacy of specific users or devices.
With the prioritization of unbiased, probabilistic attribution, the chances of achieving a pixel-less future are high. And when you consider recent class action lawsuits against some of those who have violated HIPAA regulations, it’s clear why it’s more important than ever for healthcare marketers to fully understand the measurement technology they choose to leverage and consider whether a pixel-less option makes sense.
As cookies and mobile advertising IDs (MAIDs) retire, a pixel-less alternative could arrive on the scene, and healthcare marketers will be among the first to welcome it. 
It’s crucial to keep using and looking for a pixel that doesn’t mine data, as healthcare marketers execute campaigns today. Independent measurement providers have their own pixels that are not intended to collect private information, such as protected health information or other auxiliary data. Such technology is beneficial and widely used because it aids marketers in understanding a channel’s effectiveness and the part advertising plays in generating website actions.
It’s also beneficial to use a cookie-free targeting solution that makes use of contextual signals to enable advertisers to reach target audiences in a privacy-friendly way, such as targeting podcast listeners based on predictive behaviors.
For healthcare marketers, podcast and streaming audio advertisements are now an essential part of the media mix. The ability to attribute an appointment registration back to a campaign on Pandora, Stitcher or the SXM Podcast network––along with HIPAA-compliant targeting or predictive audiences––is crucial for the healthcare industry as it navigates economic challenges.

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