Publisher combats ad spend drought

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Elsevier is rolling out a series of electronic newsletters and ramping up patient guides and other direct-to-patient (DTP) offerings as it struggles to cope with a drop off in journal ad spend.
The medical publishing titan expects to see a 5-7% drop in spending on journal ads this year, as pharma firms pull resources out of traditional professional advertising and detailing and plow it back into online activity and consumer promotion.

Elsevier sees opportunity in shrinking sales forces.

“Our strength is in the physician, and we want to capitalize on that,” said Luis Portero, VP commercial sales for Elsevier's journals group.

Portero sees spending on online advertising to physicians and DTP promotion via the doctor replacing some of that which went into detailing—a channel that, he notes, was growing by double digits until recently. To that end, the publisher recently produced patient guides for Unilever's Vaseline which were bundled with copies of The American Journal of Medicine—in turn, sporting a sponsored cover to complement the patient guides.

Elsevier is also launching a series of online newsletters over the next six months—across its pediatrics, OB/GYN and urology titles—patterned on the pilot of AJMPlus, an e-mail recap of The American Journal of Medicine that goes out to 30,000 physicians weekly. AJMPlus directs readers to the journal's Web site, which is linked to those of other Elsevier journals, allowing subscribers to search across multiple titles—and allowing advertisers to buy across numerous journals.

Portero sees online spend increasing as younger, “Web native” physicians—those in their 30s and younger—increase in number. “The younger generation learns differently,” says Portero. “Paper is not going to go away, but online is going to be more of a preferred venue.”

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