Digital to Become a Major Format for Pharmaceutical Marketers

The pharmaceutical industry has been slow to shift marketing resources to the digital format. Part of the hesitation about digital has been related to FDA regulations regarding marketing. But new research indicates that attitudes are changing and digital marketing will play a much larger role for pharmaceutical companies in 2011 and beyond.

According to “Pharmaceutical Digital Marketing and Social Media: Managing Growth, Mitigating Risk and Mastering Strategy,” published by Cutting Edge Information, pharmaceutical firms moved more money into all 3 major digital formats – mobile, social and established media such as websites – in 2011. The digital component of most marketer budgets in this industry reached 54.7%. The channel with the fastest growth rate was mobile which rose from 5.6% last year to 15.5% of the media mix in 2011. Traditional media captured 42.1% of the typical pharmaceutical firm’s advertising mix.

Cutting Edge Information research analysts Casey Ferrell notes that the growth in digital media spending is not limited to large firms. “Small and mid-​sized pharma companies” are also allocating more money to digital.

There has been a slight change in the digital spending patterns in the past year. In 2010, social media grew most quickly, reaching 9.7% of the media mix. This year, mobile has seen the biggest budget increases. The report also indicates that while “print media and television/​radio slipped 5.0% and 2.0%, respectively," these traditional channels are seeing an increase in 2011.

Pharma companies may be increasing their advertising overall to capture some of the expected $330 billion in spending that will occur in the U.S. marketplace on drugs during 2011.

[Sources: Digital Channels Booming in Pharmaceutical Media Mix. Cutting Edge Information. 15 Nov. 2011. Web. 29 Nov. 2011; IMS Health forecast. Centerwatch​.com. 25 Oct. 2010. Web. 28 Nov. 2011] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.