The concept of custom audiences was introduced in 2012 and is one of the most revolutionary tools for advertising on Facebook. When used in the context of life science or pharma company multi-channel marketing, it offers unparalleled disruptive opportunities.

Custom audiences offer an approach to advertising that’s more than just advertising to the masses; it’s about targeting exactly the audience you want to reach, going far beyond broader targeting options like gender, location, age, relationship status and interests. It has been used successfully by large and small businesses since its launch in the consumer and B2B sectors; but, surprisingly, it has so far had relatively little use in the life sciences industry. Facebook have the most advanced and available tools; Twitter are close behind; and while LinkedIn is more bespoke, currently we’d bet on them to launch a credible, at-scale industry service soon. The services allow companies to engage with not only their existing audience but also reach potential new audiences with highly targeted messages across the world’s largest social networks. But it offers much more than that. . . . .

‘I don’t really do social media’: Said no one, ever.

Contrary to popular belief, healthcare professionals do use popular digital media channels. 87% of physicians aged 26-55 say they use social media, and a majority see the benefits of using social media to access current, high quality information. Therefore, Facebook custom audiences can be used to contact healthcare professionals (HCPs) with meaningful messages whilst they scroll through their friends’ latest statuses or photos of their last holiday.

Just like eating Fairtrade chocolate.

By making adverts visible and accessible only to HCPs in Facebook custom audiences who have been pre-identified or are existing customers, any ethical ambiguity about the social advertising of drugs, disease awareness campaigns and medical products to the general public disappears, something that can’t really be claimed by the majority of scientific and medical publishing networks. [Questionable content: With our service, only verified professionals receive the ads, which are not only relevant to them, but contain content that is suitable for and safe in their highly-skilled hands. Mmm. Delicious.

Very, very cheap (one pound fish).

Due to the ethical safety nets in place and closed community nature of private medical networks, previously advertisers had to spend a lot of buck for not much bang. Luckily, social media advertising is dirt cheap by comparison if you’re not too fussed about who you reach. Custom Audiences enable healthcare advertisers to reach known audiences at consumer rates, making tools like better than great value, offering a low market cost whilst reaching a targeted, highly qualified audience – win-win.

No doubt! (Don’t speak, I know what you’re saying).

‘Yeah, but Healthcare Professionals don’t want to receive work related ads in their social networks right?’ Wrong! We strongly beg to differ, sir. The reduction in media wastage offered by carefully constructed Custom Audiences trumps this contextual argument and we have the evidence to show it, with our users acquired through attaining better than market bounce rates, dwell time and conversion rates. It’s all about making sure there is a value exchange in advertising for the healthcare professional (education, events and news work brilliantly!) Get in touch, we’d love to talk you through the data.

Getting up close and personal.

Advertisers have the wealth of data that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn offer at their service – your age, gender, location and even interests – and can use this in audience optimisation. For example, Custom Audiences could notify an HCP of a seminar about cardiology being held in their area. Layering these parameters on top of Custom Audience lists means customers can be segmented and receive a highly personal message. Think birthday card from your mum vs a mass email from Moonpig.

You don’t need to tell everyone.

To further tailor Custom Audiences, advertisers can use ‘exclusion targeting’ to exclude certain audience members from particular messages. For instance, if an advertiser were running a campaign aimed purely at recently graduated medical students, despite shared qualifications and interests, they could use exclusion targeting to leave out older graduates from the audience.

Spreads like butter.

Advertisers can target not only their existing audience but have the potential to spread to new audiences using the ‘Lookalike Audiences’ feature. Lookalike Audiences expands a businesses’ potential audience by finding people similar to those in their existing Custom Audience list. It takes out the hard work of finding new audiences and what’s more, the service is free.

Safe as houses. Houses with huge security gates and a guard dog named Killer.

All data entered into Custom Audiences by the advertiser is protected and encrypted, while no Facebook user rights are infringed. When data is uploaded it is ‘hashed,’ meaning Facebook cannot access the data but they create a ‘fingerprint’ of it, which functions as a summary. Therefore data never leaves the company server – a key feature due to the importance of confidentiality in the healthcare industry.

Track your audience like a FedEx package.

The ‘Custom Audience Pixel’ means companies can track their audience members’ progress, recording individual click-through rate (CTR) and general online activity. For example, using this tool, advertisers could target people who were browsing medical journals and perhaps began a checkout process for subscription. Directing ads their way for the product they’ve already shown an interest in can help complete the conversion.

Innovate like the valley! (The Silicon one that is).

Let’s face it – non-data driven media buys are a bit old school. Custom Audiences offer the chance for healthcare brands to differentiate and disrupt. As the media is performance related, you can experiment, meaning you can A/B test and iterate so you get relevant campaign optimisation and learn from it. With the additional cost advantages, if ever there was a case for innovating your brand plan this has got to be it. Let’s get you your ‘innovation hero’ badge today!

Quite simply, Custom Audiences delivers results. It is more effective than blanket social media advertising as it effectively targets an appropriate and interested audience, rather than using a hit-and-miss system. It works across platforms, offering tools to target web and mobile app visitors as well as contacts via email – increasing audience scope while maintaining focus to reduce wasted advertising. Various case studies reveal increased CTRs and conversion rates, and decreased cost per user. Campaigns have seen Custom Audiences deliver over five times return on ad spend as compared to standard interest targeting – exciting stuff. is one such innovative development successfully making use of Custom Audiences to target individuals in the healthcare and life sciences industry, and initial figures look more-than promising. is a unique global healthcare advertising channel that uses Custom Audiences to help advertisers connect with and collaborate with healthcare professionals. If you’d like to learn more about why we think Custom Audiences are so awesome please give us a call today on: 020 7148 6814