DV works with various partners – from brands and agencies to DSPs, SSPs and publishers — with the goal of providing confidence and clarity in their digital investments. Since 2018, PulsePoint has been one of our premier partners. PulsePoint is a marketing technology company that uses real-time data to revolutionize health decision-making. Through a process of machine learning and programmatic automation, PulsePoint is able to unify and interpret digital, clinical and other data signals to find and activate premium audiences on behalf of both advertisers and publishers in the health industry.

Through our partnership, PulsePoint has leveraged DV’s pre-bid avoidance technology to eliminate unwanted ad requests — before reaching their advertisers. As such, the partnership protects PulsePoint advertisers’ investments by ensuring that their ads are seen by real humans in a brand-safe environment.

We recently spoke with Gareth Shaw, SVP of Operations at PulsePoint, to learn more about the benefits of their data-driven solutions and how they fit into the overall digital ecosystem.


What would you say is your key differentiator from other competitors? 

We specialize in health, which makes us different from our competitors. Because of this specialty, we’ve been able to spend the time and resources to develop finely refined capabilities in health. So, for example, our health-specific contextualizer can contextualize health content at a very granular and specific level using a detailed health-first taxonomy. No other product on the market can do it to the detail we can.

Also, we’ve been able to use our millions of health transactions to develop digital determinants of health. Our data management platform unifies these digital determinants of health with clinical and other real-world data to create the most integrated view of the health customer. We use this information to identify and predict health traits and patterns in real-time on behalf of our partner brands.

We’re currently in the process of developing even more sophisticated data capabilities that will further differentiate us in the market.


Why did PulsePoint decide to focus on health specifically? 

We decided to focus on health for three reasons:

  1. We wanted to coalesce our company around a meaningful purpose, and saw in our capabilities the opportunity to commit to improving health outcomes for the world’s population through data and technology.
  2. When we were contemplating, in late 2017, to focus on health, programmatic penetration in health was far lower than other industries. So from a business perspective, we knew there was a growth opportunity.
  3. Lastly, in studying the health market, we discovered that, more so than any other industry, health has different and very specialized needs, which were not being met by the generalized programmatic leaders. We knew that if we invested in developing an approach specifically for health, we would be fulfilling a need in a differentiated way.


How can healthcare marketers effectively utilize programmatic to reach their audiences?

Programmatic technology enables healthcare marketers to reach their audiences efficiently, at scale, in a very targeted way. The technology itself has been around for a while and is basically a commodity. What’s different comes down to targeting intelligence, i.e. reaching clinical sub-populations; access to quality content and audiences; the ability to measure and optimize dynamically; and of course performance and ROI.


What measures are put in place to ensure quality data that is vetted for fraud?

We monitor the volume of ad requests blocked by the solution and sample a portion of the allowed impressions via a post-bid measurement pixel. Our benchmark is under 5% measured invalid traffic (IVT) rate. Also, our clients run blocking technology on their campaigns and we have access to the blocked data which we monitor to make sure our blocks never go over 3% of the impressions blocked by advertisers. Further, the lack of advertisers’ complaints and clawback requests is additional proof that everything is working as expected.


What new challenges have arisen for healthcare media advertisers and publishers since the onset of the pandemic?

The pandemic shined a spotlight on health. People, both consumers and healthcare professionals, have been on active alert about COVID-19, as well as risk factors, underlying conditions and overall immune responsiveness.

Furthermore, the pandemic significantly decreased in-person interactions, both patient/doctor interactions and sales rep visits to doctors’ offices. To make up for this increased interest and these lost impressions, respectively, health marketers have increased their digital media spend. eMarketer predicts that health and pharma media spending will have increased 14.2% in 2020 vs 2019.


How have stricter privacy regulations in both healthcare and online data affected your overall business model? What measures have you put in place in order to ensure you’re compliant with these regulations?

Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) and other privacy-protecting browser changes will change the way we do programmatic advertising. Cookie-based targeting and measurement will virtually disappear. To counter this loss, we’re getting more sophisticated with contextual targeting, specifically assigning and classifying context relative to audience motivations, and using context to deliver real-time portraits of audiences as they move across content, platforms, and devices.

We’re also continuing to nurture our relationships with publishers who have high volume, high quality first-party data and augmenting our ability to unify and automate large scale buys across these publishers with advanced data intelligence and augmentation expertise.


What does the future look like for PulsePoint as we head into 2021? 

We’re still in the midst of the pandemic; so although much is undecided in terms of workforce management and work-from-home policies, we continue to have a lot of exciting stuff planned for 2021. Our executive team is constantly reimagining ways to deliver against our mission of building health-first data-driven solutions that improve health outcomes for the world’s population. Look out for breakthrough health data solutions which build upon the success of HCP365, recently named Best Data Measurement solution by MarTech, and improve health decision-making in dramatic ways.