The latest healthcare marketing trend – hosted content

How much are you paying for a healthcare professional to visit your website?  

Did you know that pharma websites are amongst the least trusted sources of information for HCPs? 

What if you could increase the trust in your content and at the same time reduce your cost per view? 

Think I’m selling magic beans? Let me introduce you to hosted content. You get the full benefit of the reach and trust of platforms like medical journals but you pay less for the pleasure. 

But what is hosted content exactly?

Most of us use it daily – post your photo to Instagram and, presto, it is now hosted content: 

And it’s the same when it’s a part of your campaign – you create (or co-create) interesting text, videos, images or interactive pieces and then you publish (or host) them on someone else’s platform. 

Depending on the platform you might also have heard it referred to as Branded Content. It’s the same thing! 

Why include hosted content

Remember that photo you posted on Instagram? Now 1 billion Instagram users can potentially view that photo. That’s a lot more than you could show it to if it’s only on your phone! 

And this is the point of integrating hosted content into your marketing strategy – your information and brand become accessible and visible to so many more people than if it only exists on your own website.

Here are 5 key reasons to include hosted content in your healthcare marketing campaign: 

  1. Traffic, reach and eyeballs

The ultimate goal of all marketing campaigns is to show your target audience information that makes your brand interesting to them. Interested enough to buy or, in the case of HCPs, recommend your drug. 

Hosted content makes this simple. The available platforms already have a large audience actively looking for interesting content.

They have a large hungry audience, waiting for your content! So this makes exposure simple. 

  1. Cost per eyeball

This is a mutually beneficial relationship. The platforms want their audience to stay, the users on the platform want interesting content. 

If you provide interesting content, that keeps discerning customers on the platform.

Therefore the platforms will work for you, promoting your content using a variety of different methods as your content helps them keep their users engaged. 

As users are much more likely to click through to a second or even third piece of content on the same platform, you can make good use of the different content formats available to lead your target market through the sales process.

This means that when calculating “Cost Per View” hosted content can be significantly cheaper than content hosted solely on your own site. 

That’s more eyeballs, more trust and more engagement for less money. 

  1. Credibility

Trust and credibility are very important within healthcare. And, online, establishing trust with your target market is key. 

By placing your brand in alignment with credible and trusted platforms like journals, CME sites and HCP social media platforms you enhance your brand credibility. 

  1. Entertainment

People interact and remember things that interest them. You don’t need to have bells, whistles and dancing girls, but you do need to present content in a way that will interest your audience.

Many platforms offer opportunities for webinars, patient case studies, videos and podcasts as well as papers and articles. These catch the eye and hold the attention of the HCP giving them an opportunity to learn more in the format they find most interesting. 

  1. Interaction

Most of the forms of hosted content give HCPs the opportunity to interact. That might be simply clicking, or it might be sharing, discussing and commenting on the content. But all of that interaction gives you valuable information about what they find interesting and what their questions are. So your campaign improves. 

What to watch out for

While all that targeted conversation and interaction is wonderful there are also downsides to hosted content: 

  1. Traffic stays there

On many platforms users don’t want to leave for external sites. This can be particularly true for HCP social media platforms and CME sites.

This can make hosted content unsuitable for some marketing goals such as traffic generation to your website. 

This also leaves you totally reliant on the platform and it’s tracking information to assess success. 

Each platform will be thrilled to show you how much traffic your content is receiving and (if applicable) how much traffic they drive to your website. 

But this may not be the information you require to calculate your KPI / ROI. Remember that they get to charge more based on favourable figures.

  1. No data

If your goal is data capture for an email mailing list then some platforms are not going to be successful – traffic stays on platform. 

And platforms don’t hand out user details (there’s some pesky regulations about things like that!). So first you have to convince them to leave and THEN you have to convince them to hand over their contact details. Two really big barriers! 

So you need to make sure that your goals align with what the platform can offer.

  1. Figuring out the budget

All that lovely targeted traffic comes at a cost. Fixed pricing and specific options. 

And that doesn’t include the cost of creating the platform specific assets, possibly with the platform specific agency. 

So you need to be sure that the right people are going to do the right thing when you put that information in front of them. 

  1. Availability

Would you want to read a newspaper that was only adverts? Nope, me neither. 

And the same applies to all of these platforms – to maintain their credibility they must restrict the amount of paid for content they provide. 

This means that there are limited spaces. And, the better the platform, the faster those limited spots get booked. Wait too long and miss out. 

What are my options? 

There’s almost as many content types as there are platforms. Some can be branded, others unbranded so you must think carefully about the platform / target market / time to launch.

What not to include

First, let’s cover one thing that is often bundled into hosted content discussions which is not what we are talking about. The banner. 

Example of a pharmaceutical banner in the New England Journal of Medicine

Yes, technically this is a piece of graphic content you and your media agency lovingly designed and published on someone else’s platform. BUT a banner drives traffic to your external website – it does not encourage users to continue to interact with your information on platform. So, this is the last time we will talk about it here. 

Instead try these


Preferably with some lovely graphics to better illustrate the points being made. The content creation process doesn’t have to be hugely complicated and / or expensive. A well written article can be easier to access, particularly for those who can’t listen (public places / poor connectivity) but want to continue to consume content. 

Look at this wonderful example from 

Hosted editorial content on

Well written with secondary content options integrated. And promoted across their platform! 

Articles are also a less complicated option for cross posting across different regions. They are less costly to translate and the graphics can be reused. 

Video content – webinars, information and symposia

Video is the new darling of the web. And a favourite way to consume information and education. 

It can take multiple forms – recordings of live congress presentations and symposia (a brilliant way to share this information now people are travelling less!), or webinars also work really well. 

You can create specific KOL videos introducing talking points and addressing specific areas of concern or misunderstanding. 

Hosted unbranded webinar on EMG

This is an example on EMG of a webinar of experts discussing key topics in their area of expertise. Notice that discreet logo in the bottom right hand corner? Yup, this useful, interesting content is part of Servier’s new pancreatic cancer treatment education campaign. 

This content is also publicly viewable on YouTube through the EMG channel. So even more potential exposure. All with the credibility of a panel of international experts on a well respected platform. 

The addition of subtitles and graphics can help increase the reach across regions. 

Podcasts and Audio

Some prefer audio content without the video. This can be a specially created audio recording or an edited version of the video audio from another media piece. 

Hosted unbranded podcast on ReachMD

Reach.MD has podcasts, audio only versions of their videos as well as healthcare dedicated streaming radio. Perfect for the audiophiles within your target audience. 

Hosted unbranded podcast on esanum

Esanum also includes podcasts as part of its broad branded content packages. Available not just directly on the Esanum platform but syndicated to a number of podcast specific platforms as well. Yup, that’s even more reach for your buck! 

Interaction and discussion

One thing that many of these platforms offer that your website just can’t compete with is the opportunity for interaction with, and discussion of, your content by your target market. 

Hosted unbranded interactive quiz on ReachMD

Let’s go back to Reach.MD for a second. Before playing the video content you selected they have a short quiz. Because this is educational content! Your users are here to learn. 

But guess what? You find out exactly who is watching your content! And what questions they have / what gaps in their knowledge there are. 

So your content plan gets better and your target market gets happier. That’s a win/win. 

Hosted unbranded patient case study on HowITreatMD

Or new USA based platform HowITreat.MD. They present patient case studies, asking verified healthcare professionals how they would treat these examples. 

That’s real users discussing the pros and cons of your product and telling you how they want to use them. 

That’s marketing gold. 

So, should I include hosted content in my healthcare marketing plan?

Yes, absolutely. 

So long as it matches your goals and your target market. With research this is a brilliantly cost effective way to put your content in front of the right audience. 

But, it can also be a wonderful way to burn through your budget without a clear ROI. 

Do your preparation and then reap the benefits of reduced cost per view to a better targeted audience. 

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