WebMD's third-quarter results showed that the health portal is still fighting for share. Sales fell 13% to $117 million for the period ended September 30 compared to the same period last year, while sponsorship revenue and public portal advertising slumped to $96.7 million—a 15% drop from the $115 million for Q3 2011.
On the up side, the site reported double-digit increases in site visits and page views, with about 107.2 million unique visitors tapping into the WebMD Health Network per month and 2.56 billion page views for the quarter.
WebMD's ad sales slide contributed to the January resignation of longtime CEO Wayne Gattinella. The company brought in CEO Cavan Redmond from Pfizer to head things up in June, and added Global Crossing veteran John Kritzmacher, SVP of business operations in October.
Among the company's moves to reshape its image was the September revamp of its WebMD print magazine, which carried over into the tablet-optimized version.
“I am definitely squarely in the target for the magazine,” publisher Heidi Anderson told MM&M in a phone interview, saying that as a mom with three kids, she wants information on things like “battling wrinkles, and caring for [her] kids.” The revamp attempts to do just that. Anderson said the print refresh was about making content accessible.
Executives told MM&M that chages which may appear cosmetic are in fact a shift towards an overall more personalized WebMD experience that can provide light waiting-room information while also being a source of trusted information about deeper medical concerns.
Chief Technology Officer William Pence said from a theme perspective, 2012 was about “trying to get a user to engage with a personalized service which gives them a better value” and that in 2013, WebMD will leverage and expand that user value in the marketing space. “We really want to make sure we can provide high-quality audiences with very high-quality first-party data” he said.