The $1.58 billion forecast to be spent online this year to reach consumers and healthcare providers represents a 23.3 percent increase from last year. But over the next four years, annual online spending will grow at an average of 14 percent. Next year, for instance, spending is projected to hit $1.86 billion, a 17.7 percent rise. By 2016, spending is expected to reach $2.48 billion, but that will amount to a 7.8 percent gain from the prior year.
There are a couple of reasons, according to eMarketer. "Drugmakers have been slow to shift to online tactics. Without definitive online marketing guidelines from the FDA for direct-to-consumer advertising, many marketers prioritize spending in print and broadcast media, for which there is a clearer road map. The shift to digital is under way, but has not progressed as quickly as it has in less-regulated industries," the firm writes.
Another reason: both traditional and online ad spending have been largely geared toward blockbuster medicines, but the recent wave of patent expirations coupled with a growing emphasis on newer drugs that target more specific patient populations will soon translate into lower online spending to reach both patients and healthcare providers, according to eMarketer.
Meanwhile, the spending mix is starting to change between DTC advertising and promotions aimed at healthcare providers. The firm reminds us of a recent Cegedim Strategic Data report showing several large drugmakers reduced DTC ad spending last year but boosted electronic detailing. This underscores that spending aimed at physicians, which has traditionally been larger, is growing even faster as more doctors use the Internet and mobile devices for information and education.