MediaRadar Blog

Pharma is Growing Its Digital Ad Spend. But by How Much?

Pharma is Growing Its Digital Ad Spend. But by How Much?

We all know that 2020 was a big year for pharmaceutical companies, but it’s not just companies like Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson that had an active year. 

Pharmaceutical brands and their ad tech partners were challenged to find new ways to reach buyers. As the industry went through a digital transformation, so did its advertising.  

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AI-powered ad intelligence for medicine ramps up

The health industry has traditionally been slow to adopt new, digital technology because of strict regulations. However, COVID-19 forced the industry to lean into new tools in order to facilitate sales and patient engagement. 

Talking Medicines recently released an AI-powered social intelligence tool, PatientMeRx. The ad intelligence platform gathers the comments of customers across social media, blogs, and forums, and connects the conversations to a curated database of over 130,000 regulated global medicines. It processes the data to give pharmaceutical companies feedback on the medicines. 

“The pharmaceutical sector spends $30Bn on marketing each year in the US alone without really knowing if that investment is doing any good,” said Jo Halliday, CEO of Talking Medicines. “What we’re able to do with PatientMetRx is de-risk social data collection for pharma by offering arm’s length and agile data collection from wherever the patient is speaking and decoding it to align to medicines.”

Even though social listening has been used for many years across other industries, this type of tool is the first of its kind in the medical field.

Likewise, Xandr just announced a partnership with Lasso, as they develop a joint platform. The new platform allows pharma companies a way to efficiently market individual brands in the digital space.

“When we looked at the ecosystem, we saw that it was riddled with fragmentation, legacy technology, and companies taking outrageous margins,” reported Mike DiNorscio, Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer of Lasso. “We’re here to change that. From RFP to ROI measurement, Lasso gives marketers every tool they need to do their job smarter, cut costs, and drive meaningful results, all within a single platform.”

He noted that with Xandr’s history of powerful technology, they can create a more clear and efficient media supply chain. 

MediaRadar Insights

MediaRadar data reflects how strong the digital push is in the pharma space. 

In 2021 so far, pharmaceutical spend in the B2B space is up 41% overall. This is heavily influenced by digital ad spend which increased 242% YoY (January-February 2020 vs 2021).

imbrance ad

While the spend increased significantly, the number of brands remained flat YoY. 

Meanwhile, print publications in the B2B space weren’t circulating in their usual way in 2020— negatively impacting the spend in this format. Print ad spend in the B2B space was down 11% YoY overall in 2020, which is an improvement from its lowest point (down 33% YoY in Q2 of 2020). 

emgality ad

Print is still down this January and February by 23% ($10mm). It’s typical of pharma companies to buy less early in the year, but this decrease is likely caused by the increasing popularity of digital ad spend in the B2B space.

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