Pharmaceutical marketers continue to be cautious when it comes to online formats. These marketers know the feds are watching – just last week AstraZeneca agreed to a $520 million fine for marketing Seroquel without adequately informing patients and doctors about side effects. Incidents like this make pharma marketers worry about inadvertent exposure when placing display ads. According to a report in Medical Marketing and Media, pharma marketers have  2 specific concerns:

  1. The company’s ad could appear next to inappropriate material and damage the brand
  2. The company’s ad could mistakenly target a ‘restricted audience’  and the company could end up paying a fine

Because of these concerns, one industry watcher, Winterberry Group, believes that between 10-20% of budgets that might go to online display are going elsewhere. “People don’t trust the display channel to perform; it’s not going to be as controllable or steerable as other media,” says Jonathan Margulies at Winterberry Group.

An additional issue with respect to online media buys is the power of ad networks. These networks may improve the efficiency of the online marketplace but as a result, a marketer may not know exactly where a display ad appears. comScore spokesperson Andrew Lipsman points out that most pharma display ad impression occur at sites controlled by well-known publishers and there’s little reason for worry.

Winterberry Group counters that there should be no need to worry. Appropriate digital solutions could be deployed to ensure a “safe online advertising environment” but nobody has stepped forward to offer such a service. More pharma marketers may be looking for these guarantees before they risk  upping their budgets in the display ad category.

[Source: Iskowitz, Marc. Concern over where ad appear online hindering spend, new whitepaper says. Medical Marketing & Media. 16 Apr. 2010. Web. 7 May. 2010]