Will digital budgets ever match TV?

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Will media budgets trend toward digital and away from televised DTC this year, as several pharmaceutical executives have intoned? Or will digital media continue to be nickel and dimed?

Dorothy Gemmell, senior vice president, 

We are seeing DTC digital media dollars increasing as we move into 2010. As consumers demand more control and transparency over health information, the digital space has emerged as the leading platform to deliver on this promise. Pharmas can no longer be assured that their message is being delivered effectively in a national broadcast approach. The pressure to reach the right audiences, at the right time and in a responsible environment makes digital a prime platform to deliver on this need. Brands are looking to digital for innovative solutions that can deliver proven results. Consumer empowerment is also driving the movement toward digital. Digital provides transparency for consumers on both the risks and benefits of products and allows consumers access to information.

Bob Bernstein
, chief media officer,
 Draftfcb Chicago

Dollars will migrate from all traditional media forms to digital for the foreseeable future. Across all categories, interactive media now represents an estimated 20% of media spend. Rx drugs, however, are only spending 2% in the interactive space. The comparison suggests digital media such as search, display advertising and social media are under-represented given what we know about how important these vehicles are to consumers. Consumers are increasing their reliance on digital as a source of information, connecting with other sufferers, using it to feel more at ease when talking with physicians and comparing products. It is important to intersect this process and for that reason, digital should be a greater piece of the pie.

Tina Breithaupt, mMedia director, 
Intouch Solutions

Some clients are realizing the power and measurability of digital media. Others are using digital, but not fully embracing it. Google reports 31% of consumer media consumption time is spent online. But few—if any—marketers spend 1/3 of their budget online. Regulatory issues can hinder branded efforts. In some cases, online units don't provide enough space for safety info, making it hard to do branded campaigns. But unbranded online lead generation can be both effective and cost-efficient. For the best of both worlds, branded TV and unbranded digital work together to raise brand awareness and build a database. Will online spend someday match the level of influence online has on healthcare info-seeking and decision-making? There's hope yet!

Beth Harper Gray, 
SVP, media strategist, 
inVentiv Communications

Media budgets will shift in the upcoming months, but mostly that is a function of the marketplace changes. Total budgets will be down in 2010. TV upfronts are slowly moving this year and the theory that holding back dollars, negotiating expansion rights and waiting to spend in the scatter marketplace will ultimately backfire on favorable pricing. TV does not become the bargain everyone expects, and dollars don't stretch as far as anticipated. DDMAC is beginning to craft guidelines for pharma advertising on the web. This action has immobilized the industry. Digital spending therefore, may be stunted as well. Who wins? I'm betting on the printed word.
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