Podcast #40

The Marriage Between AI and Digital Advertising

Machine learning and algorithms continuously improve to help digital advertisers reach and engage the right audience. The key is finding the perfect balance between artificial intelligence and marketers’ ingenuity. They each have their unique strengths and role in developing effective digital advertising campaigns.

Episode Highlights:

Nicholas Van Winkle

Nick Van Winkle:
“You have to bring a certain channel mix more ready-made for a particular type of client. What we’ve seen over the last two years, maybe five, more generally is that everything is becoming paid search. What do I mean by that? The hard and fast lines between channels are really beginning to blur.”


Alex Kemp: “With healthcare in Google, more often than not, your marketing audiences are disabled. Another route we take to do the same thing is essentially use a third-party display network. What that allows us to do is still get a pixel placement on the website, collect an audience, but we’re not doing it through Google, and we’re doing it in a compliant way.”

Related Resources

Announcer: Welcome to the Ignite podcast, the only healthcare marketing podcast that digs into the digital strategies and tactics that help you accelerate growth. Each week, Cardinal’s experts explore innovative ways to build your digital presence and attract more patients. Buckle up for another episode of Ignite.

Lauren Leone: Thanks, everyone for joining us on the latest and greatest episode of the Ignite Podcast. My first time hosting our CEO, Alex is presenting out in Vegas at a conference this week.

I get to stand in his place. My name’s Lauren Leone I’m the SVP of Client Services and Healthcare Marketing here at Cardinal. I have two really amazing guests joining us today.

If you all think I sound smart in our podcast really all I’m doing is repeating the smart things that Nick and Alex have told me. This is who you really want to be hearing it from. We have Nicholas Van Winkle.

He is the director of Paid Media here at Cardinal overseeing all Paid Media channels, search, social, display, and everything else that we’re going to talk about. His goal is to bring it all together for you and for our clients. We have Alex Kemp who is our five-plus year resident paid search director, all things Google ads. If you need to know something about what’s going on in the Google world, Alex is your guy. Thanks for joining us guys.

Nick Van Winkle: Oh, such a pleasure to be here.

Alex Kemp: Yes, happy to be here.

Lauren: One of the first things we want to dive in, I want to get your perspectives. I get asked this a lot, but I want to hear what you guys have noticed as the experts in your fields. At a very high level, what has changed? What have been some of the biggest changes in the digital space in the last five years?

Nick: How about I take the opening crack.

Lauren: Yes, Nick let’s get you– yes, we’ll get Nick started on that one.

Nick: First, these are big questions. I love big questions.

Lauren: They’re big questions. Yes, pick one or two things that feel good.

Nick: What’s changed? About five years ago I was essentially designing keyword-level bids within paid search. I was manually bidding which it’s almost laughable today, that’s how quickly things have changed. Why is that? The biggest most overarching view here is the level of data that we have access to within our platforms has become far more fine-grain.

At one point it was age, gender, household, income, and location, maybe some behavioral, maybe some site-specific.

Essentially, over the years that categorization has become finer and finer and more predictive of what the user, the human being at the end is ultimately going to do next. We can become more and more sophisticated with when we place our bets, how we place them, why we placed the whole thing. It’s all rather impressive at this point. Five years ago we just didn’t have that level of granularity. It was much more, broad.

What you had then was broad-based audience categorization within a manual keyword-bidding situation. Those are two rather blunted instruments as compared to what we have today which is fine grain, sand grain level of granularity in terms of audience segmentation and categorization. Machine learning has to predict exactly what the user– where they are in their journey and how to speak to them.

In the last five years, it’s just become so much more sophisticated. That’s what I would say.

Lauren: Alex, I’ll ask you to answer the same question and then I have a follow-up already in my mind that I want to ask you. Let me get your thought first on just what you’ve seen as the biggest changes.

Alex: I would– first of all, I agree with everything Nick was saying there about the level of detail we have now, and our reliance on machine learning, and algorithms, and all that. The other perspective I would add-in is around how much digital media people consume nowadays. I would say COVID in 2020 pushed us maybe 5 to 10 years in the future of what digital media consumption would look like on a normal timeline where COVID didn’t happen.

We’ve seen on our end for several different industries and verticals where search volume has just gone through the roof on paid search. If people weren’t already to turning to the internet to solve their problems when it comes to finding solutions they’re doing it at even a greater rate now. Like I said, I really think that 2020 pushed us into the future a little bit and the way people consume media now is so different.

It’s at a level that is so much higher than five years ago and even in 2019. That’s another shift in the landscape I think I would add in terms of how digital marketing has changed.

Lauren: I do a lot of the intake of our prospective clients who want to work with Cardinal, and most of what they’re saying is, “My old provider referral source has dried up. It’s not as strong as it used to be. I can’t rely on it anymore. I don’t know where my patients are finding me, but somehow I need them to find me.”

You’re absolutely right. We’ve heard that in the field quite a bit over the past year and a half. When we are exploring those new partnerships one of the most important things for Cardinal in scoping those is auditing what’s currently going on. Alex does a lot of our audits here at Cardinal. If you’ve ever sat in on a presentation with me where we’re going through an audit most of that information has actually been dug up and uncovered by Alex.

Alex, what are some of the outdated strategies that people are clinging to? What do you see in those accounts that people just can’t seem to break the habit of doing even though the engines have evolved so much?

Alex: I think piggybacking on what Nick was saying about how bidding has changed and how we use the platforms to our advantage. Back in the day, we had very granular campaign structures where we were saying every service that a client has gets its own campaign. Because was as the humans know better in terms of how to allocate budget to that service or to those keywords. We were breaking campaigns out by match type and maybe even device.

Things were just very granular and that’s some of the things I see sometimes where I look at an account and it might be for a single location. Or if it’s for a multi-location but I’ll see way too many campaigns for what they’re spending and what their objective is. That’s one of the biggest things we see is how is the account organized? Is it organized in a very granular way to maximize control? Which is to answer your question I think that’s eventually what it comes back to for people who go with that route is I want to maintain control because I think I know where that budget should go, and I know how I should bid for each of these keywords.

You suggested really the platforms have evolved so much that there are things that we should be delegating to humans. There are things that we should be delegating to the platforms. I think that has just shifted where we’re giving away more– we’re giving the platforms more rein to make changes and optimize the campaigns where humans play a slightly different role compared to maybe five years ago.

Healthcare Marketing Insights At Your Fingertips

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