Welcome. Part of Propeller’s mission and promise is to be at the forefront of digital. We consistently strive to bring innovation and creativity to our healthcare partners and their customers.

It is in this spirit that we curate a quarterly experience, strategically selecting the latest, most important digital marketing trends and tech innovations—and assess the impact each of these has in healthcare, and why it’s important for you to know, now.

Together, let’s be experts and so on the Pulse!

Q4 2020

Optimized Content Experiences

T R E N D   # 1


Mobile, mobile, mobile

What is it

Chiefly targeted to mobile phones, vertical video is a specific video presentation style using portrait orientation instead of landscape, filling the entire screen and fully immersing the viewer in the experience without having to move the phone to view

Forbes reported that almost 94% of us hold our phones vertically and that if we come across a video that requires us to change the orientation of our phone, instead of doing so, we’re 2.5x more than likely to skip it. In addition, according to Mediabrix, 90% of videos watched vertically have a higher completion rate versus horizontal

Vertical video is embedded in the social media space as the result of its use within leading channels Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok—and even YouTube’s black bar update

Advertisements in vertical video bring significant ROI, reinforcing that orientation matters a lot when it’s about engaging viewers. When more of the viewing screen is filled, people get less distracted and give their full attention to the experience

What it means for healthcare

According to eMarketer, 75% of video views worldwide are on mobile devices, thus optimizing for vertical format is key for healthcare-industry marketing. Vertical video ads provide a big, beautiful canvas to deliver your message on the go and allow engagement with your customers in a way that fits their viewing preferences

For brands newly adopting vertical video within their plans, executional recommendations include: Adapt the experience to tell the story without soundKeep ads short, opening with a strong hook to increase view timeHigh production quality is not necessary for getting results; explore tapping into authenticators to capture social-first content on your behalf


Being an early adopter of Instagram products is strongly recommended to implement vertical video and scale brand communications and influencer strategies.

Instagram (IG) Stories: Temporary 24-hour posts that are either pictures or short videos, usually accompanied with text or other special effects, similar to Snapchat. Hashtags, polls, and countdowns make IG Stories an interactive and effective platform

Reels: Short-format video feed where users can post 15-second clips, typically used as a quick-hit to show off a skill or market the brand. While Reels is relatively new, it hasn’t made the same splash into the video-marketing social media arena as TikTok

IGTV: This is the YouTube of Instagram, a place where people can post their edited, high-quality videos in longer format, up to 10 minutes. It has permanent placement. An interesting opportunity is to leverage the video tool for original episodic series, tutorials, and interviews

T R E N D   # 2


The future is pictures instead of keywords

What is it

Visual search uses real-world images as the input for online searches. It’s a bit of a catch-all term, as it encompasses internet images (via reverse image search), screenshots, or photographs. These queries are then absorbed by AI and machine learning to understand the content and context of these images and return a list of related results

While both visual and image search are based around imagery, the crucial difference lies in the fact people use words to conduct an image search, whereas, with visual search, a user uses an image to conduct the search

Visual search allows you to take a photo and upload it to a search engine like Google Lens. Then, the search engine will generate results that closely match your object

What it means for healthcare

A new method on conducting a search is now being used in the form of visual search. From an SEO perspective, brands can optimize their images, so when someone is looking up something, the product gets displayed among all the other products

In addition, as pharmaceutical brands and medical institutions face a new generation of patients who want to make more informed and quick-to-uncover decisions, image recognition technology can make it easier for patients to reorder over-the-counter drugs from the comfort of their home and to retrieve guidance and instruction on specific medications. Upon authenticating product packaging itself, the experience triggers digital content that stays compliant with regulationsCatchoom allows customers to take a picture of medical product packaging and immediately be redirected to valuable digital content, such as videos, landing pages, and other educational medical information to learn more about the product and its benefits


Ever walk down the street and see something you love but don’t have the words to describe it? Enter, Pinterest’s visual search: Lens. While Pinterest may not be as big as other social media players in the market, its advances in visual search and object recognition have been significant. Lens allows users to search for a specific item by taking a picture of it or by uploading a photo from their phones—and then shop for it.

How it works at a glance:

Open the Lens camera in the top right corner of the Pinterest App

Snap a photo of the item you’re looking for or upload a picture directly from your phone

Pinterest will then return a set of visual search results with related images that include a “Shoppable Pin” feature, giving you the ability to make a purchase directly from clicking the photo

T R E N D   # 3


A blended customer experience approach

What is it

The name phygital refers to a crossover of the physical (phy-) and the digital (-gital) aspects of the brand experience

It is governed by the three Is: immediacy, immersion, and interaction, merging online and offline marketing strategies to create one cohesive experience that’s both

Phygital is a marketing strategy deployed at the physical point of sale to improve the customer experience and increase ROI. Phygital is based on innovative tools from the digital world as well as cutting-edge technologies made available to the general public

What it means for healthcare

Bridging the gap between technological possibility and real-world application, the biggest opportunity for healthcare right now is wearable tech—leveraging tools that can monitor a patient’s health and provide real-time, personalized feedback to help improve outcomes

Major brands have recognized the benefits of the phygital CX in the path to a purchase decision. COVID-19 reinforced online ordering and home delivery; hence, pharmaceutical brands are making their products available online for order and reorder with home delivery

For hospitals, the exciting challenge is unifying technologies that already exist to make the best possible user experience. Imagine a more efficient and accurate way for hospital staff to know the activities in each room, who has been served their meals, who needs medications adjusted, who needs bed linens changed, and so on. By utilizing the phygital concept and creating a CRM, hospitals are able to truly transform the patient experience


In its effort to be the go-to place for everyday purchases, Amazon just launched its new Amazon Pharmacy service, selling prescription and generic medications. COVID-19 and the shift to online retail helps Amazon ramp up the services at a time when many consumers have just discovered the convenience of online commerce (pre-COVID-19, 80% of prescriptions were picked up in person).

Amazon Pharmacy securely manages user information in compliance with HIPAA, and does not share Protected Health Information outside of the pharmacy for advertising or marketing purposes without clear permission from the customer

The Amazon Prime members will get two-day delivery on all medication, plus discounts of up to 80% when they don’t use insurance. Amazon will also allow them to compare whether it would be cheaper to buy drugs using insurance co-pay or to simply rely on Amazon’s bargains

T R E N D   # 4


The superimposed reality

What is it

Augmented reality (AR) has transformed from being a technology-fair showpiece to a true marketing asset. While a buzzing topic for the past several years, the technology to create AR experiences is now more accessible and mainstream

AR layers digitally created elements over the real world, accomplished through the use of special wearable devices, like glasses or headsets, that project a digital image onto the lens—or, more commonly, by inserting those same elements into a camera image, like a smartphone screen

Unlike VR, AR is more like a filter that alters how people perceive the world around them. This means that AR users are untethered from a purely digital environment; they can walk around and interact with the physical world while still viewing digital add-on elements

What it means for healthcare

AR is changing the way surgeons, doctors, nurses, and residents are trained and educated. With AR, healthcare professionals can visualize procedures and surgeries in an engaging, learn-by-doing way

AR provides real-life simulation surgeries for doctors without the risk of getting it wrong with a live patient. It provides surgeons with 3D overlays to enhance the visibility of organs, veins, and diagnosis reports, cutting down on the chance for error and presenting complex ideas in interactive formats

AR is game-changing for driving engagement between sales reps and HCPs, and HCPs and their patients. Field reps can hold a device and present a marketing pitch or turn over their AR-equipped iPad so the HCP can directly experience it. AR can also allow HCPs to be more illustrative when explaining new treatments to patients


There are many new and exciting opportunities to leverage AR trends in cross-vertical brand communications to supercharge storytelling and customer experience, including:

Indoor Navigation: Leveraging AR frameworks such as ARKit by Apple or ARCore by Google, point the app where the user is located to guide you with virtual navigation signs to the destination point

The Avatar: A personified form of an AI agent, bringing to life a character or personality. A new “virtual YouTubers” or “VTubers” phenomenon in Japan leverages digital avatars that look like anime characters

T R E N D   # 5


Preview of the 2.0 model

What is it

Social selling is when salespeople use social media to find and engage with new prospects. Salespeople use social media to provide value to prospects by answering questions, responding to comments, and by sharing content throughout the buying process—from awareness to consideration, until a prospect is ready to buy

The new way of B2B means using social media networks to reach new prospects, educate them on how your company can help them grow their business, and nurture them through content; the growth of social media usage has been a huge factor in why social selling has predicted success and early adoption

An example platform, LinkedIn, offers Sales Navigator for sales organizations that want to build client relationships by harnessing enterprise LinkedIn features to unlock expanded company networks in a more personalized way

What it means for healthcare

In a limited face-to-face world, companies need new commercial models to meet customer preferences and respond to restrictions on access to physicians. Some companies are reimagining their sales force strategies as more pilots and tests are being run across teams. Some pharmaceutical companies render digital as a new channel to engage with stakeholders. Yet others render it as an entirely new way of doing business

According to a Bain & Company study, nearly 60% of the physicians surveyed in 2020 who previously preferred in-person interactions now want more virtual dialogues or fewer in-person visits. Although many doctors previously believed that interactions like consultations on new drug samples or trend data could not be moved to a virtual setting without sacrificing the integrity of the interaction, they now acknowledge that many virtual interactions are high quality and convey the same information as in‑person meetingsAnd of the 75% of physicians who preferred in‑person visits from medtech representatives prior to COVID-19, 47% now prefer virtual interactions or less-frequent visits

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