Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pharma Online Ad Bellwether WebMD Foresees Ad Slowdown

"WebMD Health Corp. on Wednesday lowered its financial guidance for 2008, citing a softening ad marketplace," reported Online Media Daily (see "WebMD Dampens Financial Prognosis On Ad Slowdown").

This is WebMD's second cut in its revenue guidance since February. In the beginning of the year, it forecast 2008 ad revenue in the range of $415 million to $430 million; now it forecasts a range of $380 to $395 million, which is about an 8% dip. And it's only April!

Although eMarketer predicts that pharmaceutical companies anticipate spending more in 2008 on Internet advertising (Web sites, search and e-mail marketing) and less on traditional media, the prognosis from WebMD suggests that pharma ad money is NOT where their mouths are. WebMD, after all, relies "heavily" on pharmaceutical advertisers for revenue.

Don't Let the Bad News Get You Down!

However this "softening" of the marketplace plays out, I believe the current situation requires that vendor companies, consultants, and agencies who do business with pharmaceutical companies need to work smarter as well as harder to keep clients and find new ones. Part of working smarter is expanding your business network.

That is why I am doing my bit by hosting the 4th Annual Pharma Marketing Networking Event/Dinner Reception on June 4, 2008 at the Princeton Marriott. Join over 100 of your colleagues for great food, interesting speakers and fun!

This event is in the evening from 6:00 PM to 9:30 PM during the week (Wednesday). Therefore, it does NOT require you to leave your office during business hours and you'll still get home early enough to get a great night's sleep!

It costs less than 10% of what it would cost you to go to a regular industry conference -- a lot less than that if you consider the fee for a room at hotels. My event does not require that you stay overnight in a hotel!

Most importantly, I am going all out to help you network with all interesting pharma marketing and sales people I expect to be there. I have a unique idea that rewards one lucky attendee a $200 gift certificate for meeting up with a minimum number of attendees. It's a contest! For details, please see the agenda.

HURRY! Register by May 5, 2008 to get the reduced EARLY BIRD SPECIAL RATE!


  1. Anonymous10:37 AM

    Perhaps it is WebMD's overly aggressive sales techniques and lack of ROI that is hurting its sales. Smart marketers are putting their money elsewhere -- WebMD is finally feeling the effects.

  2. Web MD has always been a legend in their own mind. There programs do have some value but they have benn hesitent to tie that value into hard quantitative ROI performance. Impressions and clicks mean nothing unless a marketer can determine the ROI from such online interventions and Web MD does not want to guarantee any ROI metrics. Other sites like Quality Health are willing to tie in pay-for-performace and are much more targeted.

    In a time of shrinking dollars for online, regardless of what survey's say, Web MD is a nice to have and we just can't afford any "nice to have" programs anymore.

    The other aspect that marketers need to worry about is Web MD's cozy relationship with pharma. Consumers are smart enought to know that promotional messages are being pushed on them and want a fair balance of information rather than pharma sponsored sales messages.


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