New mobile advertising network targets doctors

By Brian Dolan
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Tomorrow NetworksA new mobile advertising network that serves ads specifically targeted to healthcare providers launched this week. Physicians Interactive Holdings, which offers the popular Skyscape app, and stealthy Remedy Systems partnered to launch the mobile ad network, called Tomorrow Networks. The network launched with some 54 different smartphone medical applications having already signed on. Remedy Systems is providing developer relations and the technology behind the platform, while PI is contributing its sales channels, ad operations management, relationships with ad agencies, and a testbed in the form of its popular Skyscape app.

Tomorrow Networks is intended to be a revenue channel for those medical apps that haven't monetized yet or those looking for an additional incremental revenue stream. According to the launch press release, Tomorrow Networks already claims to have an app user base of 275,000 healthcare professionals.

"If you are a healthcare marketer trying to reach healthcare professionals on mobile [devices], there has not been a scalable way to do that with display advertising thus far," Physicians Interactive President Sanjay Pingle told MobiHealthNews in a recent interview. "Sure, there have been messaging opportunities and sponsorship opportunities in medical apps, but you have not been able to target cardiologists in Texas, for example. That has not been available historically, but Tomorrow Networks makes that possible."

Of course, there are a number of mobile ad networks already available. Two high profile ones include: Apple's mobile ad network called iAd and Google's ad network, Admob.

"The only way that Admob or iAd can target healthcare professionals is based on other apps that the user is using," Pingle said. "They guess you are a medical professional if you are using a medical dictionary app, for example. So, they serve you an ad intended for a medical professional."

Tomorrow Networks, however, knows if the users of apps on its network are medical professionals. It's beginning to learn much more than that, too.

"We have launched a number of initiatives to increase the amount of profile data we require from users before we provide them with free content," Pingle said. "We know their profession, their specialty, and like most everybody else -- we know their location."

Pingle said with the granularity of user data that Tomorrow Networks has, the network can, for example, target ads to nurses who treat multiple sclerosis. Thanks to that precise targeting, PI and Remedy expect medical app developers to leverage Tomorrow Networks because it will enable them to charge advertisers higher premiums.

Pingle said that two unnamed pharmaceutical companies have signed up to advertise through the ad network. To address regulatory issues, the ad network worked with the pharma companies and their respective ad agencies on concept reviews over the past several months, Pingle said. The ads will provide the FDA-mandated warnings and other messaging thanks to some creative animation and scrolling.

Other medical app developers are also expected to be a key group of advertisers. Promoting one app through display advertising on another similar or complementary app makes sense. App discovery is a huge issue in mobile health today, as our recent coverage of private app stores and Apple's recently launched iTunes section for healthcare professionals highlighted.

"Beyond that [potential advertisers] would include anybody who wants to reach this demographic," Pingle said. "That is, within reason. We want to keep this as a curated network and ensure that the [adverisements] are content that is of value to users. There is a right of refusal on accepting advertising. We have had discussions with luxury brands and other non-healthcare people that are interested."

Tomorrow Networks also has a handful of consumer health apps already signed app to extend the ad network to consumers. Pingle sees an opportunity for managed care companies, hospitals, health systems, large clinics, diagnostic services companies and others interested in reaching consumers to do so via the ad network. These initial consumer apps have a location-based advertising component since Pingle said healthcare is still very local and advertising to consumers in a particular zip code or region will prove effective.

While Physicians Interactive owns one of the most popular medical apps, Skyscape, Pingle said it welcomes competitors to bring their apps to the ad network. He said they have had conversations with "many people" about participating and they fully expect their initial 54 app partners to grow very quickly.

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More on Tomorrow Networks in the press release below:

PRESS RELEASE: Tomorrow Networks Provides First-Ever Platform Aimed at Creating a Revenue Model for mHealth Developers, While Maintaining a Commitment to Quality Content for the Medical Community

MARLBOROUGH, MA — October 11, 2011 – Today marks the launch of the first mobile network for healthcare, Tomorrow Networks. Physicians Interactive Holdings, a leading provider of healthcare information and mobile clinical decision tools for medical professionals, and Remedy Systems, a leading mobile application company focused on healthcare, are announcing the creation and availability of their mHealth platform, Tomorrow Networks. The platform lets developers market and distribute their applications to the growing population of medical professionals who are searching for well-built mobile applications as a tool to improve both the quality and efficiency of care. Through the platform, advertisers can also deliver targeted marketing messages.

“Tomorrow Networks was designed to solve problems we experienced as developers in this industry. Healthcare app developers are no different than other app developers — we’re both looking for ways to distribute our applications to an audience that is most likely to download and use them,” said Matt Wiggins, CEO of Remedy Systems. “What’s unique about this platform is the community it reaches, which includes over 275,000 healthcare professionals and growing. Our main goal here is to facilitate the evolution of the mHealth ecosystem by creating a symbiotic environment in which healthcare professionals, developers and marketers coexist in an effort to improve the overall care process through a more standardized approach to mobile engagement.”

According to recent research, by the end of 2011, 61 percent of physicians will be using an iPhone. Tomorrow Networks allows developers to service this growing mHealth community, while enabling them to partner with advertisers to monetize their efforts and then target particular segments of health professionals. More specifically, Tomorrow Networks enables advertisers to place in-stream content at relevant points in the healthcare decision making process — including the ability to target ads by audience specialty and location. Moreover, the platform provides immediate insight into how these ads are received by the intended medical audience so that real-time changes can be made in relation to appropriate targeting and placement.

“Think of it this way — with Tomorrow Networks, an ad for diabetes treatment can be shown to a physician using a glucose measuring application while treating a diabetes patient. That type of ‘needle in a haystack’ targeting is unheard of today in the mHealth space,” said Sanjay Pingle, president of Physicians Interactive Holdings. “What we’re looking to do here is take the guess work out of the mHealth advertising model for developers, advertisers and the healthcare professionals. We’re committed to ensuring that the advertising content distributed via these apps is truly useful to the end user who is directly serving the patient — which could realistically be you or me.”

Developers can apply for an SDK that will grant them access to the distribution and monetization platform built into Tomorrow Networks. As of this release, 54 applications have joined Tomorrow Networks. If you’re a developer interested in sharing your mHealth app on our platform or for more information about Tomorrow Networks, please visit www.tomorrownetworks.com.

About Remedy Systems

Remedy Systems designs and builds practical mobile product platforms that lower the costs and improve the quality of healthcare. Remedy leverages its existing mobile application platform to build new product lines for large healthcare companies that need mobile strategists, developers, and creative solutions that can be rapidly brought to market. They seek partners with companies who share similar long-term visions of the healthcare ecosystem. Remedy also assists private equity companies, government leaders and venture capitalists understand the healthcare IT landscape as it relates to mobile, often originating or identifying innovative ideas being proven on the fringes that can be brought to scale through the right partners. For more information, visit www.RemedySystems.com

The founding team at Remedy Systems built and managed mobile ad networks alongside major media companies since the launch of the iPhone. The framework for Tomorrow Networks has been proven at scale with millions of users.

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