Rx and OTC products, paid digital ad spending by
healthcare and pharma marketers is expected to grow
at an 11.6% compound annual rate during our forecast period.
This lower-than-average growth rate has resulted in
a share loss when it comes to total digital advertising
among industries. Healthcare and pharma currently
accounts for 2.8% of total digital spending, down
from 3.0% in 2013. Through 2018, however, this share
is expected to remain relatively stable.
INDUSTRY ADJUSTS TO NEW SPENDING
After several years of sluggish investment, healthcare and pharma advertising is showing new signs
of life. Though patent expirations for mass-market
blockbusters have slowed, there are fewer of them to
market. At the same time, the industry is adjusting to
a pipeline that will produce a promising new crop of
higher-priced specialty treatments for diseases that
are less common and more complicated.
Some of the industry’s largest advertisers are starting
to open their checkbooks again. Kantar Media reported that Pfizer alone spent $1.14 billion on paid media
in 2013 (including internet display but no other forms
of digital advertising). Pfizer’s investment grew 26.8%
over 2012— the result of marketing pushes for blood
thinner Eliquis, rheumatoid arthritis drug Xeljanz
and more spending on established brands, including
Viagra, Chantix and Lyrica.
Generally speaking, several factors are driving this
boost in industry spending:
Changing industry dynamics: Mass-market blockbuster drugs that have come off patent in the past
several years are being replaced by a new wave
of more expensive specialty drugs that treat less-common diseases. Marketers are using more digital
media to target these drugs to smaller populations of
consumers. They are also beefing up efforts aimed at
More digital experimentation on the unregulated
side: While big spenders in pharma remain constrained by FDA rules, some marketers in less-reg-ulated sectors of the industry are moving full speed
ahead with digital.
The Affordable Care Act rollout: Insurers and other
service providers have increased consumer-focused
spending to promote their plans and will continue
to market to their members in efforts to keep them
DIGITAL AD SPENDING FORECASTS
The US healthcare and pharmaceutical industry will
spend $1.41 billion in paid digital media in 2014,
including $373 million in mobile ad formats. Digital
spending will climb to $2.22 billion by 2018.
eMarketer estimates that industry advertisers—
including marketers of prescription (Rx) and over-the-counter (OTC) products, facilities, services, research,
healthcare professionals, hospitals and biological
products, as well as establishments providing healthcare services, health insurance and social assistance
for individuals—will invest 56% of their paid digital
dollars in direct-response efforts this year. The remaining 44% will be invested in branding-focused
campaigns. Search and display will command the
largest chunks of digital spending, with higher-than-average growth expected in mobile, digital video and
While ad spending remains tempered by regulatory
and privacy concerns, changing consumer behavior
and industry dynamics are pushing healthcare and
pharmaceutical companies to incorporate more digital advertising in the media mix.
Though constrained by regulatory requirements on