Creating Value Through Online Marketing

  • June 09, 2014
  • by Tyler Hinton

The use of the internet to engage potential consumers has allowed marketers in a variety of industries to do their jobs more effectively, but this strategy has been less successful in the pharmaceutical industry. It is no secret that DTC advertising spending is rapidly declining. In 2005, DTC ad spending peaked at $5.41 billion[1], which dropped sharply to $3.47 billion by 2012[2]. However, as marketing teams across industries seek to utilize the internet to increase their advertising ROI and lower costs, the pharmaceutical industry seems hesitant to follow this trend. In 2012, the pharmaceutical industry spent just $68.4 million on internet ads, which was down 33% from 2011. Although this seems counter-intuitive at face value, a look at the effectiveness of online DTC pharmaceutical ads shows us why companies are looking for other methods to promote their medications.

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comScore completed an interesting study on the effectiveness of online DTC advertising that illustrates the problem pharmaceutical marketing executives are facing. The study shows that prospective patients who are exposed to online banner ads show a 0.8% increase in unaided awareness of the medication, and a 1.9% increase in aided awareness[3]. Interestingly, this same group of potential patients was 7.7% more likely to discuss the condition with a physician after viewing a banner ad, compared to an increase of 30.3% if they visited a branded website[4]. Therefore, much of the DTC ad spend in the pharmaceutical industry is geared towards attracting visitors to branded websites.

Although online marketing to consumers has been relatively unsuccessful for pharmaceutical companies, we know that doctors frequently use the internet to access information. By November of 2009, it was estimated that 86% of doctors use the internet to access health information[5], which is expected to have risen since the study. Pharmaceutical companies have capitalized on this opportunity by developing extensive branded websites, which are loaded with information for consumers and professionals who sift through the site to find the needed information. However, many companies are not satisfied with just creating an online source of information, and want to engage health care professionals on a more personal level.

Although websites and ads often provide valuable pragmatic information, they lack the components that are found in the most effective marketing programs. On-demand videos are an excellent alternative to online DTC advertising because they allow companies to utilize top thought leaders to educate physicians on the disease state and the treatment options being presented effectively. On-demand videos engage HCPs with leading experts and by utilizing real-world case studies that couldn’t be summarized by banner ads. They capture your target audience’s attention like no other ads can, and are highly effective professional marketing tools.


[1] Kantar Health Bulik, B. (2011, October 17). Pharmaceutical Marketing. . Retrieved June 2, 2014, from

[2] Staton, T. (2013, April 2). Pharma DTC ad spending sinks 11.5%, a $2B slide from 2006 peak. FiercePharma. Retrieved June 2, 2014, from

[3]  Mangano, J. (2013, June 20). 2013 Online Marketing Effectiveness Benchmarks for the Pharmaceutical Industry. comScore, Inc. Retrieved June 2, 2014, from

[4] Mangano, J. (2013, June 20). 2013 Online Marketing Effectiveness Benchmarks for the Pharmaceutical Industry. comScore, Inc. Retrieved June 2, 2014, from

[5] Chan, A. (2011, November 1). Doctors Use Google For Health Information, Too, Survey Finds. The Huffington Post. Retrieved June 2, 2014, from 11/11/01/doctor-google-diagnose-symptoms_n_1069654.html


About the Author

Vision2Voice Healthcare Communications (V2V) is a healthcare communications agency that serves the pharmaceutical industry. Our mission is to bring the highest quality medical education solutions to our clients for the benefit of patients everywhere.

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