3 Ways Digital Marketing in the Health Category is Different Than Other Markets


For several years, our agencies have worked with healthcare brands and companies selling health-related products.  We’ve developed a specialty in it.

Because of the unique regulatory challenges of marketing in the broader “health” space, it can be challenging for digital marketers in particular.  Marketers are usually pretty well-versed in dealing with data privacy, CAN-SPAM compliance and even TCPA rules.

Add in new acronyms like HIPAA and OPDP, just to name a few, and confusion can set in. If you can become adept at dealing with these unique requirements placed on healthcare marketing, it opens up a new world of possibilities for clients.

Here are 3 important issues you have to address when merging the world of digital marketing with health.

  1. It’s not as simple as flipping on Google Ads.

Advertising pharmaceutical products, telemedicine, many health-related tests, or simply running a comparison of these products requires prior registration and approval from a service called LegitScript. The major ad platforms – including Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Bing and Yahoo – have adopted LegitScript as an approved third-party verification partner for health related companies.  If you want to advertise a service or product that falls into these categories, and/or want to charge a credit card for those services or products, you must work with LegitScript prior to getting approved on these ad platforms.

  1. You have to be ultra clear on what you can and can’t say.

The regulatory nature of healthcare marketing is much deeper and specific than most digital marketers are used to. Whether you’re marketing new medical devices, pharmaceutical or therapeutic products, or reviewing consumer DNA tests, this matters. And it becomes quickly apparent when you start to hear some of the new acronyms mentioned above.

Are you prominently displaying ISI (important safety information) on all pages? Any branded health website that describes a product must display ISI. What about OPDP? The Office of Prescription Drug Protection works to ensure information published or marketed online about prescription drugs is “truthful, balanced, and accurately communicated.”  More specifically, any Google Ads you run must be reviewed by an internal regulatory team as well as the OPDP. While it can be hard to include ISI on ads themselves, it does need to be included on all websites (desktop and mobile).

  1. Data privacy and protection is more serious.

Digital marketers and agencies are used to collecting information from website visitors and either selling or storing that information (or both).  In health care, privacy policies and opt-in language has to also consider additional regulatory bodies like HIPAA.  A good outline of HIPAA compliance that explains what to do with your privacy policy, as well as your data storage, can be found here.