Pharma and Health Care Ad Money Moving to New Online Formats

Fri Apr 21, 2017

Kathy Crosett

Direct-to-consumer advertising by pharmaceutical and brand name health care product companies doctorpillsremains big business. Last year, these marketers spent $5.8 billion. This year, reports, 72% of marketers in the health care industry will spend more to promote their products. At the same time, these marketers are shifting where they spend their ad dollars.

Pharma companies were slower than most to move their ad budgets to digital. Now, they are re-evaluating how to shift their digital budgets from older to newer formats. For example, the ad industry witnessed a 3.1% drop in digital banner ads in 2016. Health care marketers, and pharma companies, in particular, are seeking fresh ways to connect with audiences.

Some health care brands are eager to reach millennials who are in their prime child bearing and rearing years. In terms of readership on popular online sites, millennials comprise 48% of the audience for, but only 36% of These numbers help to explain why banner ads in some publications are falling out of favor.

Health care marketers, especially pharma companies, are focusing on ‘value-exchange advertising.” For example, an advertiser may sponsor free wifi access to consumers who agree to watch an ad. Some of these ads, especially videos, may be 90 seconds long and address a health condition which is pertinent to the viewer.

Whether companies are promoting the latest drugs, or products designed to improve the lives of patients, health care marketers are going where consumer attention is going. For most, social media is important. This year, 45% of these enterprises will use social media and 20% will use mobile tablets and apps for DTC marketing. The social media format is also allowing enterprises to set up unique channels to interact with consumers who have an interest in specific conditions like diabetes or kidney failure.

Despite the interest in digital, health care product companies remain active in buying traditional media.  At least 28% buy DTC print ads, 14% purchase TV spots, 10% go for out-of-home placements and 9% use radio.

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About Kathy Crosett

Kathy is the Research Director for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel.

View all posts by Kathy Crosett