Where will pharma's web dollars go?

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This year the healthcare/pharma industry is expected to increase web media spend 13% to $1.2 billion, according to an eMarketer forecast. Where should that spending go?

Eugene Lee
EVP, chief digital officer,

“Web media” has evolved from a phrase traditionally used to describe online media plans and promotion opportunities to one that is now much broader in context, encompassing areas like app development, mobile content delivery, social media platforms and virtual interactions. The changing healthcare landscape and more challenging rep access at institutions continue to support the growing trend of HCP's desire for self-service, portable and consumable information. This means we must learn how to make the “non-personal” personal through channels like real-time and on-demand virtual sessions, social conversations and peer-to-peer interactions. This also means we must continue to create and promote content in the desired context, format, destination and device wherever the HCP initiates the interaction.

Michael Winter
Vice president,
Digital Initiative

Growth in healthcare spending will be from channels which had recently been viewed as “emerging,” namely video, social and cause-related marketing. Having increased in both scale and performance, these channels are now able to deliver richer content and experiences, as well as the community support and advocacy that consumers are searching for. While fair trade restrictions have prevented these marketing tactics from being an obvious choice over traditional marketing channels, such as display banners or sponsorships, it won't detract from the effectiveness of digital media because we're still creating “stickiness” with consumers. Ultimately, it comes down to building and creating relationships which is one of digital's core strengths.

Dan Chichester
Chief digital officer, senior partner,
Ogilvy Healthworld, part of Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide

Healthcare is communication. Often, a discussion of one's health is not the discussion anyone wants to have. But, it has to happen; at least, it has to happen between patient and doctor. Then, add in friends and family, for an even wider circle of exchange and support. This spirit of conversation is why social media—in its many forms—is such an interactive place. And this high level of interactivity is why any investment in healthcare communications needs to be here—in the social media sphere. But, you say: “What about restrictions, oversight, open fields?” These are nothing but convenient bogeymen. Other industries have overcome them. If people care enough to have these digital dialogues, then as marketers we have to care enough too, and meet them in their comfort zone.

Tina Breithaupt
Senior media manager,
Intouch Solutions

In the ever-changing e-landscape, pharma marketers are constantly being challenged to update the way they communicate with consumers. Most of these updates are encouraging to the industry and allow brands to facilitate personal dialogue with their audience and provide value beyond safety information. Standard online advertising is still a safe and successful marketing channel for advertisers and the increase in spending should be utilized to include more interactive and effective ad technology. In addition, the increase will include more emerging media tactics, like mobile and social media, that foster open communication with patients and between patients to create brand advocates online.  
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