HealthiNation, a producer and purveyor of independent health video, is pulling in consumers with high-quality content, and an increasing number of pharma advertisers with a network of valuable consumers. After seeing an ad served against HealthiNation video content, consumers are “twice as likely to ask for that specific brand at the doctor’s office, compared with a control group,” says Tony Estrella, COO and co-founder of HealthiNation, and a former product manager at Pfizer. Twenty-eight percent of HealthiNation’s audience will visit a doctor as the next step to seeing a video, and 60% are either returning from a visit, or planning to see a doctor as an immediate next step, says Raj Amin, CEO and co-founder.

Providing solid ROI is a crucial selling point for advertisers, something that Amin and Estrella say has been a major focus since the company’s launch in June 2006. HealthiNation’s original plan was “to create a better way for consumers to learn about health through video,” says Amin.

HealthiNation launched its content on television, as a video on-demand (VOD) service available in 500,000 homes. Today, HealthiNation’s long-form video content is available on-demand to 28 million cable-subscriber homes across nine cable providers including Comcast, the largest cable provider in the US, says Amin. HealthiNation serves as the VOD health and wellness anchor tenant for several of those providers. An online video platform soon followed.

Kirk Wolfe, principal at private-equity firm MK Capital, says HealthiNation has raised seed money through two financings (one in 2006 and one in 2008), and is moving in the right direction. “We’re thrilled with [HealthiNation’s] performance to date and proven ability to deliver results for their ad partners…we feel confident that there are good things to come.”

Trust, added Wolfe, is crucial for attracting more pharma ad dollars to alternative channels. If so, HealthiNation may be winning industry’s confidence.

As part of its Better You campaign, Pfizer ran ads for its smoking cessation drug, Chantix, against HealthiNation’s Quit Smoking video series, online and on television. The video content, some of which was filmed at the Bodies exhibit in New York, was featured across partner sites online, and delivered “a tremendous impact on brand favorability” with respect to viewers opting to watch the televised content and advertising on-demand, says Amin.

Schering-Plough (prior to the reverse merger with Merck) ran a NuvaRing promotion against a series of videos called Girl Talk, pairing NuvaRing video ads resembling the Girl Talk format with episodes in the series. A stationary banner for the birth control product appeared just below the video player. In addition, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi-Aventis aired a promotion for anticoagulant Plavix against heart disease-related programming featured on HealthiNation’s VOD network.

According to Amin, the biggest difference between televised VOD and the online video platform—a space where HealthiNation is growing as well—is in the viewing experience. Amin says VOD viewers are game for longer segments—10- to 12-minute videos—whereas online, video content is split up into several shorter segments, most around three minutes long.

Consumers viewing the longer segments on television tend to stick around for the entire program; completion rates are at 70% to 80%, says Amin. Online, consumers stayed at for an average of 3.3 minutes in October, according to comScore data.

Video content is focused around condition education areas and designed to hold a consumer’s attention while delivering an advertising message that causes action. Estrella says research plays a big part in deciding which topic areas to create content around, and that includes surveys and consultation with the company’s medical advisory board and product team.

HealthiNation’s videos reach 40 million unique viewers through its 50-plus online distributor partners, and pharma marketers at eight of the top 10 companies have advertised against HealthiNation video content, says Amin.

HealthiNation will launch pilot applications for mobile phones in 2010, but he says the platform isn’t mature enough yet. “[Mobile] is the next big platform; it’s only a matter of time, but advertising and measuring capabilities aren’t quite there yet.”

Honorable mentions for this category include HealthLine Media Network, which quietly powers a host of health sites and has attracted 8.3 million unique visitors as of October 2009, and in the journal space Hem/Onc Today, for strong growth among titles in the medical/surgical category.