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My Least Favorite Question (For Now, At Least)

Our Veterinary Pre-Education Technology™ systems are paid for by sponsorships. We work hard to find companies whose products/services are well-aligned to the needs and preferences of veterinary practices, not just pet owners. Since sponsors are paying to get their message heard, they naturally want to reach as many pet owners as possible. So they often ask my least favorite question:

How big is your network right now? How many practices are you in?

Ugh! I understand the question perfectly. It’s an age-old concept dating back to TV market sizes and magazine circulation volume. And it’s a reasonable question to ask – in some circumstances. But instead of asking to determine maximum reach, most people ask it to evaluate our pricing – how many people will I reach for the money I’m spending?

But that question isn’t relevant to our pricing! Here’s why:

The Flexibility of Digital Out Of Home Marketing

There are many benefits of digital marketing. A major perk is how fast, easy, cheap and flexible it is to deploy content. The overall size of a digital network is not the best way to evaluate or plan a campaign’s pricing. Because content can be deployed anywhere, any time, the “old school” style of evaluating reach is not applicable. For example:

  • When you purchase air time in a TV or radio market, you can’t choose to divide it up and only show an ad to a subset of the market. With a digital network – you can!

  • When you place an ad in a magazine or newspaper, you can’t select which copies will run the ad and which ones won’t. With a digital network – you can choose which screens to run on.

  • When you buy space on a billboard, your audience size, quality and dwell time are relatively unpredictable. With a digital network, you can get much more accurate demographic targeting and reach estimates.

Apples to Apples

There are some standards for performance and pricing metrics with Digital Out of Home systems, but transparency and consistency across different platforms and industries is still elusive. The best piece of advice I have for anyone evaluating digital marketing proposals is: Make sure you’re comparing similar numbers.

  • Terms like “reach” and “impressions” mean different things to different people.

  • CPM (cost per thousand) is also characterized in various ways – be sure you’re clear on exactly how each proposal defines or calculates it

  • The environment in which a digital impression is delivered matters – a lot. An ad viewed for less than 1 second while scrolling through a Facebook stream is very different from a message that’s integrated as part of an educational content segment in a veterinary waiting room. Even medical office environments can vary. For example in human health waiting rooms audiences tend to keep their smartphones out, whereas in veterinary offices the phone gets put away in favor of keeping attention on the pet(s).

In summary, it’s completely appropriate to ask about the size of our network, as long as you’re evaluating the maximum reach you can acquire. But since we configure our pricing based on segments of the total available market size, we always come in at very competitive Digital Out of Home rates. And they are NOT based on the total size of our network.


About Pet Cause Media

Headquartered in Central Massachusetts, Pet Cause Media is the national leader for improving veterinary practice outcomes using data. Smart Outcomes™ is a portfolio of integrated client outreach technologies for veterinary offices that focus on just-in-time messaging. Veterinary staff are made aware of products, procedures and best practices to discuss with management, trainers and product reps. Pet owners, while in a “pet frame of mind”, are presented with contextually-relevant information to discuss with veterinary staff. Benefits include increased compliance, improved pet health outcomes, and elevated practice revenues. Visit for more details. Follow Pet Cause Media on Facebook and Twitter.


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