Digital spending for customer engagement continues to grow globally. In 2016, global marketers have been found to spend an average of 14.85% of their marketing budget on non-personal digital channels, which is expected to grow to 19% by 2018 as revealed in the study.

Sanjay Virmani, EVP Indegene, stated that “China and the USA are leading in non-personal digital spending at 33% and 31%, respectively, spending over 20% annually. By 2018, 50% of marketers in China and 40% of marketers in the USA will spend more than 20%.”

Health care technology company Indegene polled 104 pharma marketers on their marketing habits, among them 42% from the U.S., 25% from Asia-Pacific countries, 15% from the E.U., and 18% from China. The study was conducted from August to October of this year.

According to the study, Brand Promotional Emails, KOL Webinars, and HCP Portals are the top three preferred channels by the global marketers to engage HCPs. However, by 2018, KOL Webinars, Social Media, and Mobile Apps are expected to become the most preferred channels of engagement.

Advertisers in the health care category might want to follow suit and invest in digital advertising. The most current AudienceSCAN study found 34% of Internet Pharmacy Users plan to make eye doctor appointments in the next 12 months, and 32% plan to buy vitamins/supplements. They’re already on the internet filling their prescriptions, so hit them there with some digital ads.

“We expect to see a slight shift in prioritization of spending, with KOL Webinars becoming the first choice of engagement and Social Media and Mobile Apps receiving greater focus,” added Virmani.

All surveyed marketers said that KOL webinars, brand promotional emails, and online and in-person detailing offered the best return-on-investment for their marketing dollars. And for every $100 spent in their digital marketing budgets, they spent $17 each on brand promotional emails and KOL webinars and $15 on content portals for healthcare providers.

Investing in these types of advertising could help health care marketers reach Internet Pharmacy Users. The latest AudienceSCAN survey revealed what these users plan to spend on health care needs throughout the next 12 months. Dentists and veterinarians should advertise to them, because 20% of users plan to pay for Dental fillings, crown, bridges or root canals, and 19% plan to pay for vet services for their pets.

In terms of the channels they preferred to use to reach health care providers — but didn’t necessarily offer the best ROI — marketers ranked brand promotional emails, KOL webinars, and HCP portals as the top three ways to engage providers.

Pharmacies and local drugstores could try some digital ads featuring their prescription delivery services, because AudienceSCAN data said 18% of Internet Pharmacy Users plan to pay for delivery.

In the U.S., marketers said social media, mobile apps, and detailing — both online and in-person — were their preferred ways to engage health care providers.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.