WebMD profit jumps 60% in the first quarter

David Schlanger
David Schlanger

Pharma's pipeline—and its need for places to promote new drugs—contributed to a 59.6% increase in WebMD's first-quarter profit to $10 million.

Total revenues rose 7% to $143.3 million in the first quarter of 2015, compared to $133.8 million for the same quarter last year. Revenue from biopharma and medical device sponsorships and advertising jumped 10.7% to $75.8 million, compared to $68.4 million in the same quarter last year. But advertising and sponsorships revenue from consumer-packaged goods and over-the-counter treatments fell 13% to $29.9 million in the quarter, compared to $34.5 million in the same period last year.

WebMD CEO David Schlanger told investors that the consumer- and professional-information service could help healthcare marketers connect with audiences in two phases of a product's life, from unbranded prelaunch communications to postlaunch. He said the company can target messages to decision makers in a way that competitors cannot.

WebMD websites include the consumer-facing WebMD.com and Medscape, a news site for professionals.

Overall page views grew 21% in the quarter and mobile continued to increase its share of page views, with 37% of the quarter's visitors using smartphones to visit WebMD web properties. Desktop traffic accounted for 25% of the quarter's 4.25 billion page views, and tablets provided 8% of traffic. WebMD executives reiterated that mobile traffic has not come at the expense of other channels.

WebMD said it saw a 21% increase in unique users compared to the same year-earlier period.

Although the company affirmed its expectation that revenues in 2015 will be between 6% and 9% higher than last year, the company said it had dialed back expectations about when certain connectivity programs would launch, such as tools that would allow doctors to send secure messages to patients or that would provide secure physician-to-physician messaging environments, until the market is set to support it.