Is Your Media Plan Guided by ‘Audience Mindset’?

It’s often a binary choice: Pharma brands either look for awareness or targeting when funding their media plans. Awareness brands buy broad-reach media, while targeted brands invest in smaller, digital-heavy plans.

But awareness media and targeted media are no longer discrete from each other, nor homogenous unto themselves. Thanks to technology and data, awareness media can now be targeted, and targeted media has enough reach to drive awareness. Instead of a simple (awareness or targeting) selection, we now have to make complex choices from across a collection of media options.

How, then, should marketers evaluate the various media options to meet their brand objectives?

This is a question our media team has had to address at Healthline. The vitality of our business depends on reaching and influencing as many people as possible, both for ourselves and on behalf of our partner brands.

But rather than think of media solely from the perspective of our business goals, we’ve been sourcing media based on the perspective of the audience we’re trying to reach.

Audience Mindset

Audience mindset refers to the mindset of the consumer when they encounter a piece of content, an ad unit, or a social post. It is often a composite of the consumer’s prior experience, intent, and need. It drives what media they consume, and what messages they take in. Different people have different mindsets at different points in time. And on any given day, the people in your target audience many represent a myriad of different mindsets.

A person’s mindset may or may not be defined by their health. Remember, the consumer is a ‘whole person’ who lives life beyond their condition. Think about a group of people who are living with migraine and are on a treatment but open to new alternatives. Now, think about how their openness and motivation could differ from each other. One person may have heard about a new brand from a friend, and may be aware and passively intrigued but not consciously thinking about it. Another may be interested in finding a new treatment, but in the moment is on Facebook to see friends’ photos; their migraine attacks are furthest from their mind. And a third may have new insurance, so is actively on Google searching for a treatment with better coverage. All three people have different mindsets, so they’re probably on different channels, consuming different media, in different ways.

Mindset Marketing
In order to produce campaigns with high-performance metrics across audience reach, quality, and ROI, Healthline has been studying different content in different media channels. Based on the results we’ve uncovered at each touchpoint, specifically what resonates and what doesn’t, we’ve identified the most prevailing audience mindset in these different media:

Media Channel

Audience Mindset

What We Need to Accomplish

TV / Print

No conscious intent

Grab target’s attention

Digital Video

Seeking information

Provide information


Looking for an answer

Provide answer


Open to interesting stuff, even an “a-ha” moment

Provoke interest

Audience Targeting (Programmatic)

No conscious intent

Grab target’s attention


Possible intent

Reinforce key idea

Lead Gen

Anticipate future intent

Guide their interest

We’ve learned that each channel works in different ways with different mindsets and therefore requires its own approach. A mix of channels drives the most effective and efficient program to reach the right person, at the right time, to drive a meaningful shift in consumer attention and behavior.

Mindset Marketing Example

At Healthline, we’re focusing on creating great stories and trusted information for consumers, whether entertaining video, educational articles, real stories, or shareable infographics. We then distribute this content in select media channels based on audience mindset, not content type, to make that article useful to people.

Here’s an example. Healthline visitors have an interest in Crohn’s disease. To answer some of these visitors’ questions, Healthline has been creating Crohn’s disease management content. But we vary the distribution of this content to ensure that we are appealing to audiences in different channels differently, according to mindset.

  • In Social, where people with Crohn’s are probably not actively thinking about their symptoms, we try to provoke interest with the message: “Crohn’s Disease: Why do I Feel This Way?”

  • In Search, where people with Crohn’s disease have specific questions about what to eat, we provide them with an answer: “Crohn’s Nutrition Guide: What to Eat and What to Avoid”

  • With retargeting, we reinforce the interest by providing add-on content to the article: “3 Ways to Prevent a Crohn’s Flare … That Have Nothing to Do with Food”

Social: Provoke Interest
Organic Search: Provide Answer
Retargeting: Reinforce Interest

Takeaways for a Pharma Marketer:

  • Understand your audience from the point of view of their different mindsets
    All marketers have sophisticated qualitative research and segmentation studies, but these are rarely used for media planning. Instead, work with your media agency to apply these insights to audience mindset mapping for the purpose of creating a more resonant media plan.

  • Commit to having a mix of media to reach your targeted audience
    Different people have different mindsets. Different media work differently to serve different mindsets. That’s why we need a mix of media. If you can’t fund a full media mix directly, work with partners who have created a diversified media foundation to support their business and their partners.

  • If possible, customize your message to satisfy the consumer’s mindset at that interaction
    Customized content is often the hardest part for pharma marketers because of the need to have each piece of content approved. But if you try to customize your content for the more prevalent mindsets, you may be able to gain from this benefit. Alternatively, this is where publishing partners who have fully staffed editorial departments can help.

Healthline is on a mission to create a stronger, healthier world. A central tenet of this mission is to meet the consumer where they are. One of the ways we do this is by serving media that delivers value to the consumers it’s reaching. Not only do we integrate seamlessly with our consumers’ daily lives, we’re able to deliver on brand objectives with efficiency and impact, without eroding brand equity. Come talk to us about why that’s important for your brand — and how we can help.

If you’d like to share your thoughts, or learn more about audience mindset, please email us at

About Healthline Media

As the #1 health media property in the US, Healthline Media reaches more than 94MM unique visitors each month (Comscore, August 2021). We provide credible health information with a compassionate approach.