Reps remain the center of the universe when it comes to professional promotion, but new data show that non-personal promotion is gaining ground.

A Cegedim Strategic Data (CSD) promotion audit with doctors has found spending on outreach to healthcare professionals through digital channels rose 40% worldwide in 2012.

In the US, e-detailing (one-on-one), email and e-meetings (group sessions) accounted for $534 million in promotional spending for 2011, and rose to $879 million in 2012—an increase of 65%.

In Europe, pharmas spent $90 million on those channels in Q4 2012—up 40% from Q4 2011. However,  sales forces were cut 10% in the US and 12% in the top five EU markets.

These three segments are still a drop in the bucket—CSD projects worldwide promotional spending at $90 billion for 2012. Such a rise in one media channel could signal an overall rise of digital budgets as marketers and pharma companies employ a more holistic approach, favoring multiple channels.

Promotional spend is accelerating in Asia, too. China saw a total marketing spend increase of 20%, to nearly $2 billion, according to CSD.

Jerry Maynor, marketing and business development director for the US at Cegedim, told MM&M, “In the US, traditionally defined online details and meetings are growing slowly while in markets like Japan, they are becoming an important part of promotion. E-details in Japan, delivered by appointment, can comprise up to a third of promotional activity for some major brands.”