Will journal ad recovery last long?

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Journal ad revenues took an unforeseen turn for the better in the first half of the year, with overall ad spend jumping 14.3% from January to June. What's behind the upsurge and will it continue?

Alan Imhoff
President and publisher,
IMNG Elsevier

The recovery has extended into the second half of the year. I think it will continue, and there are a number of factors involved. This year we have seen the approval of a number of new products, many of which have blockbuster potential. There also continues to be some trepidation on the part of pharma marketers when it comes to web promotion, as FDA rules concerning search and social media are unclear, and some of that money has no doubt made it into print promotion. But I believe the single most important factor is the continued effectiveness of professional advertising. The data shows that physicians point to journals as one of their most important sources for reliable information, and readership of medical publications is as strong as ever. Going forward, an integrated buying approach that takes advantage of the brand equity that journals provide in print, online and through live events, will continue to be an effective strategy.

Mark Bugni
CEO/president, Prescribing Reference Group,
Haymarket Medical

The journal ad recovery through June has escalated further, with multispecialty ad pages up almost 20% through August. Some pundits have declared “print is dead.” Kantar Media surveyed physicians asking how they “kept abreast of new medical developments,” printed medical journals and reference publications ranked second and fifth respectively among 39 options. The value of journal advertising has been validated by the Kantar Health division. Studies they've conducted for pharmas typically show that campaign awareness—recall and message performance—improve with investments in print advertising. Print media delivers unsurpassed reach and more annual ad exposures than any other form of promotion. With a robust number of products awaiting FDA approval, the future for print media is positive for continued growth in 2011 and beyond.

Art Wilschek
Executive director for global sales,
The New England Journal of Medicine

The increase in journal advertising is a sign that marketers are using their promotional budgets on the strategies and tactics that deliver results. Not every specialty has turned around, but some specialties are up significantly and the increases came in the specialties with the greatest amount of new products. After a year of tumult with economic concerns and the uncertainty around healthcare reform, marketers are returning to what drives business—strategic promotion. As things have improved and concerns lessened, there have also been more product introductions. Will the increase continue? I think it will, because agencies and product managers are learning how to structure multi-channel media solutions to promotional challenges. Recent studies support this perception, that in fact as the media mix gets more diverse, doctors consider print medical journals as one of their most important sources of information.

Stephanie Hanaway
American Family Physician, Family Practice Management, Annals of Family Medicine

There's an obvious shift this year toward a back-to-business mode following the economic uncertainty that froze spending during the past two years. New products and indications certainly help, but most encouraging is the return to (or increase in) advertising for some existing products that had reduced spending during the peak of the general economic crisis. Journal advertising is returning to fashion quietly, helped by several compelling new studies that prove that journal advertising is just as vital as ever for ROI in campaign awareness, product recall and message retention. The best economic minds in the country can't agree on what the future holds for the general economy, but journal advertising should ultimately remain strong because, quite simply, it works.
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