From Billboards to TV Spots: Using Traditional Media to Meet Healthcare Audiences Where They Are

With digital marketing’s customer reach and targeting capabilities, cost-effectiveness, and measurable results, its channels have begun to push traditional media channels to the back burner. Driven by a belief that digital channels are superior, some hospitals and healthcare systems following this trend are missing out on valuable opportunities to connect with their target audiences.

“Over the years, I’ve seen digital budgets grow substantially – often cutting into the traditional media budget,” says Krista Clark, a media specialist with more than 20 years of experience in the industry. “While digital buys can target very specific audiences, traditional media still carries a lot of weight and power in driving the consumer to the website for more information.”

Combined with your digital marketing efforts, traditional media like TV, radio, print, direct mail, and outdoor advertising can increase your healthcare marketing campaigns’ visibility and provide valuable opportunities to connect with your target audiences.

“The average person can’t help but see television commercials and digital billboards or hear radio ads during their daily travel,” Clark says. “My belief is that traditional advertising is here to stay.

Need some more convincing to include traditional media in your marketing strategy? Data indicates that some consumers are becoming increasingly frustrated with all the digital noise. A recent HubSpot survey found that 57% of participants disliked ads that played before a video and 43% didn’t even watch them. Turning to more traditional media options gives you an opportunity to cut through that noise. Your calls-to-action in this media can then encourage consumers to learn more about your hospital or health system online, drawing them back to your digital channels.

Let’s delve into the various traditional media channels and discover how they can be effectively used in healthcare marketing.


Billboards provide a larger-than-life canvas to showcase your message. In today’s digital age, digital billboards offer vibrant and dynamic displays that can be updated with ease. Consider positioning traditional or digital billboards strategically in high-traffic areas to promote new locations or medical specialties, highlight award-winning departments or innovative procedures, or advertise co-sponsored community events.

Sample strategy. Use billboards in busy downtown areas or along high-traffic roadways to promote:

  • Patient success stories, communicated with a punchy headline and impactful photo
  • U.S. News & World Report rankings
  • Highly effective and minimally invasive cancer treatments or orthopedic procedures
  • Community partnerships that promote public health

Cable TV

Cable TV permits highly targeted advertising based on geographic zones and specific demographic audiences. By selecting networks that align with your target audiences’ interests, such as local networks and cable channels broadcasting live sports, cable news channels, and channels focused on vintage TV shows, you can ensure that your message reaches the right viewers. Remember that cable TV is often purchased in tonnage due to its fragmented viewership, so plan your media buying accordingly.

Sample strategy. Specifically target audiences to promote:

  • Sports medicine and orthopedic procedures
  • Partnerships with sports teams or organizations
  • Age-specific screening and vaccination efforts
  • Patient health success stories related to timely topics
  • General brand messaging

Streaming TV (OTT)

Over-the-top (OTT) streaming platforms have gained immense popularity, and they offer precise targeting capabilities. With OTT, you can reach viewers based on ZIP code, county, age groups, and other parameters. Take advantage of analytics to understand viewers’ preferences and behaviors, and tailor your ads accordingly. Platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Paramount+, and YouTube can help you connect with audiences across multiple devices.

Sample strategy. Specifically target an audience to publicize:

  • Special recognitions and standout outcomes for procedures and treatments
  • New locations, close to viewers’ locations
  • Patient success stories from specialties like mother-baby, orthopedics, bariatrics, cardiology, and cancer care


Traditional radio advertising remains a trusted and effective medium for reaching a diverse audience. You should also consider streaming radio, which offers advanced targeting options. By choosing the right radio format, such as talk shows or podcasts focused on health and wellness, senior health, or even sports; news or music stations popular with your target demographic; or local stations that allow you to advertise new locations, you can engage listeners during their daily routines. Thirty- and 60-second commercials allow you to convey your message effectively, and leveraging local deejays or podcast hosts as voice-over talent can create personal and trustworthy testimonials.

Sample strategy. Consider sponsoring a talk show or podcast segment to promote:

  • Wellness strategies to prevent and treat chronic disease
  • New advancements in cardiovascular or cancer care
  • Treatment technologies unique to your health system (in the region)

Magazine/Print Advertising

Magazine and print advertising provide tangible experiences that captivate readers’ attention. Consider partnering with health or wellness-specific publications or local business magazines to target your desired audience effectively. Craft visually compelling ads that convey your patient outcomes, innovative treatment options, regional and national recognitions, and accessibility and leverage the unique benefits of print media.

Sample strategy. Advertising in health-focused publications can be very effective in promoting your brand through:

  • Patient testimonials
  • Outcomes snapshots
  • Demographic-specific advertising of new or improved programs

Direct Mail

Despite the rise of digital communication, direct mail remains an effective way to reach potential customers. Tailor your mailings to a specific demographic or ZIP code to increase engagement and response rates.

Sample strategy. Consider using direct mail to enhance your brand by sharing:

  • Locations with accessible hours for working people and busy families
  • New telemedicine capabilities or digital medicine programs
  • Patient testimonials relevant to the recipient’s demographic

Transit Advertising

Transit advertising encompasses various mediums, including buses, taxis, bus shelters, train station posters, and digital screens. These channels offer extensive exposure to both pedestrians and drivers, making them hard to miss. By strategically selecting train and bus routes, you can target specific geographic areas and demographics effectively.

Sample strategy. Promote products and services designed to help people:

  • Access preventive healthcare
  • Increase their chances of long-term wellness
  • Find effective treatments that don’t disrupt their lives

The Importance of Planning

According to Clark, “The essence of successful advertising is planning. Media buying is the executional aspect of the media plan. However, it is more than just the actual purchase of advertising space or time; it is understanding the target audience and the product itself. It is understanding people’s media viewing habits and how the target audience goes about their daily business, how they react to the world around them.”

At Lightstream, we specialize in managing all aspects of media marketing, including traditional and digital channels. We understand the unique benefits that each medium brings to the table and can help you craft a comprehensive strategy that maximizes your marketing impact. What’s more, we don’t charge markups, ensuring transparent and cost-effective media buying.

Ready to harness the power of traditional media in your healthcare marketing campaigns? Contact us today to learn more about our services and start reaching your target audience effectively. Together, we can create a winning strategy that combines the best of traditional and digital media to more effectively engage your audiences and achieve your marketing goals.