Saturday, March 02, 2013

Pharma DTC Ad Spending Took a Nosedive in 2012!

According to data from cegedim Strategic Data (CSD), DTC spending decreased by 22% in 2012 compared to 2011 (see chart below and here):

(click for an enlarged view)

Boy, was I wrong when I predicted that Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) advertising by the pharmaceutical industry would decrease by about 3.3% in 2012 compared to 2011. I made that prediction back in April 2012 and based it SOLELY on the loss of Lipitor advertising (see "Lipitor Holds Key to DTC Ad Spending in 2012").

CSD bases its analysis on surveying a panel of 2,455 physicians and other healthcare professionals. But I like to use "measured media" data from Nielsen to plot the trend in DTC spending over the years. The Nielsen numbers are somewhat higher than the CSD numbers. The more important thing is the trend in the numbers (% increase or decrease).

Here's my chart that I have used many times before and which has been copied by others (see, for example, here):

(click for an enlarged view)

Notice that there are 3 different bars for 2012. These are different estimates that I have made for what Nielsen will eventually report as the measured media DTC spend for 2012 (I don't have that data right now):

The BLUE estimate ($4.16 Bn) is my April 2012 estimate based on the loss of Lipitor advertising as explained above. This is obviously too optimistic -- it only takes into account Lipitor's contribution.

The PINK estimate  ($3.35 Bn) is based on CSD's estimate of a 22% decrease in spending in 2012 compared to 2011 ($4.30).

The ORANGE estimate is based on Nielsen data comparing Q2 spending in 2012 vs 2011 ($0.896 Bn vs 1.137 Bn, respectively). You can find that data here. That's a 21% decrease. However, I did not assume that the 2012 total would also be 21% less than 2011. What I assumed was this: Q2 spending in 2012 is to the 2012 total as Q2 spending in 2011 is to the 2011 total. The equation is: (Q2-2012/x) = (Q2-2011/Total-2011). I know all the Nieslen numbers in this equation and calculated x = $3.15 Bn, which is about 27% less than the total DTC spending for 2011. That's quite a nosedive!

The last time DTC spending decreased by double-digital percentage points was in the recession of 2008, which saw a 10% drop in DTC spending compared to 2007.


  1. No surprises here John. With so many high profile drugs coming off patent and budgets getting squeezed I'm surprised it's not down more than that. Pharma is smartly switching more money to digital but they mistakenly believe that digital is less expensive than other channels

  2. Indeed, no surprises here! How do you think DTC spending will fare in 2013?

    1. It's too early to tell, although I'm seeing a lot of TV ads myself. When we get around to approving biosimilars in the US, I'm betting the DTC advertising for biologics will EXPLODE!


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