‘Not reinventing the content wheel’: Why Meredith is admitting its videos into doctors’ offices

doctor tv

Thousands of TVs in doctors’ offices across the U.S. will now display video content from several Meredith brands by using Health Media Network’s existing relationships with healthcare providers.

This three-year-long alliance between the publisher and the network is a play to not only give advertisers more options reaching waiting room audiences, but to expand beyond the pharmaceutical advertisers that most often pay to have a presence there.

Now while patients are waiting for their appointment, they will be able to watch content from People, Better Homes & Gardens, Shape, EatingWell, Parents and Health, among others. The content is not created uniquely for the partnership with Health Media Network, though.

Instead, the content will be curated from existing videos that were recently published on other Meredith channels and fits the description of being “engaging, informational and relaxing,” according to Matt Petersen, svp of strategic content at Meredith. Essentially, this gives new monetization opportunities to video that is collecting advertising revenue elsewhere, like on YouTube or connected TV.

“It’s not a bad idea in the sense that they’re using existing assets to repurpose and remonetize them,” said Paul Greenberg, CEO of digital video consulting firm Butter Works, adding that the margins on doing that is almost 100%. “You’re not reinventing the content wheel.”

As part of a revenue share model, both Meredith and HMN will be selling ad inventory to all of their respective advertising partners. And on Meredith’s end, the publisher will be offering branded content opportunities as well.

However, one issue Greenberg said he sees with this model is that it’s hard to pin-point exactly how many people are watching, how long they watched and who those people are. There are a variety of other factors, including is the television volume on. All that will limit the publisher’s and the network’s ability to report back to advertisers on those KPIs.

Christopher Culver, CEO of Health Media Network, would not disclose the total number of doctors’ offices that are in the network, but said that the company garners 350 million impressions annually through its programming in 204 out of the 210 total designated marketing areas in the continental U.S. He added that there is a broad mix of the types of doctors, ranging from primary care physicians to specialists.

One media buyer that spoke on the condition of anonymity said that this was a strange time for a publisher to enter into this type of partnership simply due to the fact that in the coronavirus pandemic, telemedicine has been a rapidly growing means to healthcare. And telemedicine is expected to be a lasting behavior that lingers even after the pandemic is over, they said.

The buyer added that typically 10% of their pharmaceutical client’s budgets go to in-office advertising at primary care physicians, but because of coronavirus, they have been pulling back on in-office spending in particular. 

Meredith is not new to doctors’ offices, however.

Its Targeted Media Health division has been operating as the publisher’s point-of-care solution for advertisers wanting to reach people in the waiting room. However, until this partnership, the division has only been able use print products, including special health editions of Time and People as well as special covers on magazines that feature advertising spots.

Through those means, 95% of the advertising revenue came from marketers in the pharmaceutical category, said John Kenyon, the managing director of Targeted Media Health. The goal with this new video initiative is that by using content from a variety of publications that all have very different focus areas, the division will be able to sell more non-endemic advertiser into those ad placements.

By being in a variety of doctors’ offices, Kenyon said that each sales team will be able to target specific types of doctors for clients who are looking to get in front of very niche audiences. This can come in handy for endemic advertisers, like a pharmaceutical company that wants to run ads for a specific drug in the offices of doctors who are most likely to write a prescription for said drug, he said.

“We can literally target every single doctor,” said Kenyon.

“While the audience reached in an in-office setting may be limited when compared to the mass scale of video in general, it’s an extremely high value audience for health care marketers,” said Holly Dunn, the evp of digital investments and biddable media leader at Havas Media. “Being able to identify a patient that is proactively seeking medical care, in a moment that is closest to their conversation with a physician is critical.” 

Greenberg said that there are some danger in assuming that because there is non-endemic content playing in a doctor’s office, non-endemic advertisers will pay to play against that content. Particularly because this content already lives on elsewhere including platforms that can provide more concrete information on who is watching and for how long.

“Is [an advertiser] going to bother to allocate dollars to this when targeting and measurement isn’t that good?” Greenberg said.


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