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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Despite Increase in DTC Ad Spending, WebMD Suffers

2011 is shaping up to be a good year for pharma direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising -- that is, broadcast advertising, NOT Internet advertising.

According to Nielsen data prepared for DTC Perspectives Magazine, total pharma DTC ad spending -- excluding Internet advertising -- increased 3.2% for the first 3 quarters of 2011 vs. the same period in 2010 ($3.045 billion in Q1-Q3 2011 vs. $2.951 in Q1-Q3 2010).

A chart of the top 25 or so drugs promoted in Q1-Q3 2011 in shown below (click on the chart for an enlarged view).


This is good news for TV, which raked in 64% of the broadcast DTC ad dollars during that period and magazines, which raked in 30%. Newspapers and radio shared the scraps left over.

What about Internet DTC spending?

Recall that in October I reported that a representative of Google said "pharma needs to leverage the Internet" and that "pharma was not considered a key client by Google because of pharma's low spend" (see "Double Dip in DTC Ad Spend!").

Of course, Google is concerned primarily with search advertising, which is often said to represent about 40% of the industry's total online advertising spending. But what about online display ads, which are major sources of income for health portal sites such as WebMD?

The Wall Street Journal reported that WebMD's Chief Executive Wayne T. Gattinella resigned, and the health-website operator "called off a search for a buyer as it braces for weaker financial results this year. A key issue, the company said, is pharmaceutical companies holding back on spending as they deal with expiring drug patents." (see "Dip in Drug Ad Spending Leads to WebMD Woes").

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