According to a new study by online research firm eMarketer, pharmaceutical companies are making the shift from the mass market to more targeted online marketing opportunities. As a result, online spending by pharmaceutical companies will increase 25% by the end of this year to $780 million. The “Pharmaceuticals Online: Direct-to-Patient Becomes a Reality” study also predicts that by 2008, online pharmaceutical spending will hit $1.8 billion.
As part of its research, eMarketer cites a report by TNS Media Intelligence that noted in the first quarter of this year, online ad spending by the top 12 drug companies increased 11.2% to $39.6 million, and that’s without counting search advertising. The 2006 spend increases come after a drop in online spending in 2005.
eMarketer notes two reasons for the shift: increasing regulations of pharmaceutical advertising by the federal government, and the fact that 31.6 million Americans go online for their drug and health information. Rather than advertising specific medications, drug companies are providing more informative and community-based promotions centered around specific ailments and treatments.
In a statement, eMarketer analyst and report author Lisa Phillips says, “The result is a shift in focus from direct-to-consumer to direct-to-patient, from mass marketing to relationship marketing.”