Journal Ad Review: Gains on Paper
Medical/surgical dollars were up 9% to $376 million vs. $347 million the year before. That's quite promising, considering that most journal publishers were licking their wounds after a scary 21% dip in 2009.
Still, to put this growth in perspective, medical/surgical journals have clawed their way above 2009's $347 million. But revenue remains a good 30% shy of where it was during the halcyon days of '07, '06 and '05, when it hovered around half a billion dollars. And realistically, we may never see those days again.
Publishers are also seeing more ad pages within their covers, but just 3,400 more since 2009, a modest 5% uptick to 71,088. As they did in the first half of the year, multi-specialty titles led the upturn with 13% annual growth, translating into $14.6 million more in the market Twenty other markets, of 37 covered by Kantar Media, were also up. The top five performing markets in terms of dollar growth vs. 2009 were internal medicine, pediatrics, rheumatology and optometry. Nursing, again, had the biggest negative impact on dollars.
The reigning top five medical-surgical journals posted double-digit ad page increases, except for Monthly Prescribing Reference, which kept its leaf count relatively flat compared to 2009. The best performer in this top-tier group was American Family Physician, which posted a 21% page increase, or nearly 22 pages per month, to 1,480 for the year. Also notching impressive gains—Journal of the American Medical Association swelled 19% to 1,979 pages; The New England Journal of Medicine saw an 18% increase to 3,782 pages; and Family Practice News grew 12% to 1,177 pages.
The rising tide didn't float all boats. Buys were more selective and concentrated in the leading multispecialty books. Specialty titles suffered in page count. Neurology was up 5% to 1,216 pages, but Journal of Clinical Oncology retreated 7% to 2,208 pages, Journal of the American College of Cardiology dropped 11% to 1,049 pages, Oncology Times grew by just a page (0.1%) to 928 pages and HemOnc Today slimmed 4% to 873 pages.
According to Dave Emery, VP/general manager, professional health, for Kantar Media, those medical/surgical journal publishers that have best weathered the volatility are those have embraced a multiplatform approach, with content available in print and online. In addition to websites, some have launched mobile apps for smartphone and tablets and offer an integrated ad package.
“We were able to take market share…because we were able to deliver multispecialty options and targeted options both in print and online,” says Tom Easley, publisher and managing director of the NEJM. The journal's two apps, which have been downloaded 100,000 times, provide another ad vehicle for clients.
While physician app development has taken off, Emery says only about a dozen publishers have developed professional apps. “It doesn't mean they are not thinking about it,” he says of those on the sidelines. “They're just waiting for the technology to settle in a bit and to come up with a strategy.”
Pfizer and Forest have vied for the number one advertiser spot the last three years and together account for 20% of pharmaceutical ad spending. Which company placed the most advertisements last year and for which products?
Pfizer reclaimed poll position from its rival, a spot it last held in 2008, boosting spend 9% to $39.8 million. Products Lyrica, Pristiq, Lipitor, Sutent and Aricept (co-marketed with Eisai) accounted for about half the firm's buys. Number two Forest ceded ground by upping spend just 2% to $37.8 million, riding product placements for Savella, Lexapro, Bystolic and Namenda.
Ninety percent of the top 10 increased spend. Perennial names padding outlays included Eli Lilly (up 26% to $19.9 million), Novartis (up 42% to $17.7 million), Novo Nordisk (up 39% to $13.0 million) and GlaxoSmithKline (up 51% to $8.0 million). Notably, Sanofi-Aventis tripled spend to $19.3 million promoting brands like its Lantus long-acting insulin franchise, helping make it the top-selling brand in the diabetes space. Beyond the top 25, it's easy to see which companies stunted that would-be surge: Takeda (down 30% to $7.1 million), Abbott (down 49% to $5.0 million) and Shire (down 33% to $3.8 million).
Kantar recently started tracking online advertising but not amounts spent. By number of ad occurrences, the top online advertisers in the professional space were Lilly, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis, GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis.
Pharma overall isn't spending a big chunk of money on web ads, says Emery. Industry spends more for site development. At the same time, leading publishers are selling out of online inventory. “We still generate more revenue for print than from online, but the gap between the two is really closing,” reports Easley.
Diabetes drugs, in dramatic fashion, seized the distinction of being the most advertised therapeutic category, with a 101% push spread among four or five products. Conceding the number-one spot was Cytostatic Drugs, which eased spend 4% to $26.4 million.
As one would guess, among the rest of the categories there was more black ink than red: Cancer Therapy Products rose 24% to $20.4 million, Antidepressants grew 44% to $14.4 million, Antipsychotics—Other was up 42% to $9.4 million, Seizure Disorders advanced 55% to $8.7 million and Transplant/Immunosuppressives climbed 52% to $6.8 million. Categories curbing spend were SSRI/SNRI (down 12% to $23.3 million), Beta-Blocking Agents (down 15% to $7.8 million), Alzheimer-Type Dementia (down 13% to $7.2 million) and Cholesterol Reducer Rx Statins (down 37% to $6.9 million).
Forest continues to dominate when it comes to the most advertised brands, owning the top three spots with products Savella (up 39% to $13.9 million), Lexapro (down 3% to $13.1 million) and Bystolic (down 28% to $6.4 million). Beyond that, diabetes drugs surged, led by Lantus Injection (up a whopping 514% to $5.4 million), Humalog KwikPen (up 75% to $4.9 million) and Novo Nordisk's newly launched Victoza Injection (debuting at $4.6 million). Some anti-diabetics scaled back—Merck's Janumet/Januvia franchise, Novo's Levemir Injection and Lilly/Amylin's Byetta.
And while there were fewer NDAs in 2010 than in 2009, new products—or new formulations—fueled the market, like Victoza and Lantus SoloStar, as well as Takeda's heartburn drug Dexilant, Merck's Saphris for bipolar disorder and AstraZeneca's antiarthritic Vimovo.
The fact that medical/surgical journal revenue came out of the doldrums last year was a ray of hope for publishers. Not necessarily for those who want to make bets on markets and launch new pubs. For those struggling to stay viable, the 9% increase provides some leeway as they wrestle with the proliferation of promotional opportunities, whether digital or elsewhere, and products going off patent. “The future is bright,” says Easley, “but it is more complicated.”