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The US healthcare and pharmaceutical industry will spend $1.41 billion on paid digital media in 2014, including $373 million on mobile ad formats. Digital spending will climb to $2.22 billion by 2018, according to a new eMarketer report, “The US Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Industry 2014: Digital Ad Spending Forecast and Trends,” part of our new report series, “2014 Digital Ad Spending Benchmarks by Industry.”
eMarketer estimates that industry advertisers—including marketers of prescription and over-the-counter products, facilities, services, research, healthcare professionals, hospitals and biological products, as well as establishments providing healthcare services, health insurance and social assistance for individuals—will invest 56% of their paid digital dollars in direct-response efforts this year. The remaining 44% will be invested in branding-focused campaigns.
This balance of direct response and branding reflects a complex industry dynamic. Though search as a direct-response tactic is used for direct-to-consumer and healthcare provider marketing, a significant amount is also spent to raise awareness about conditions, products and services.
While it used to be feasible to assign certain ad formats to branding vs. direct-response categories on the basis of pricing model, it is not clear-cut anymore. While search remains priced on a cost-per-click model, display, video, social media advertising and native formats can be priced in a variety of different ways. Because of this, industry experts see things moving toward a more performance-based analysis of overall spend, regardless of objective.
Despite increasing reliance on smartphones and tablets among US consumers and healthcare providers, the healthcare and pharma industry lags others in its use of mobile advertising. eMarketer expects that in 2014, health and pharma companies will spend just $373 million, or 26.5% of total digital ad spending, specifically on mobile formats, as marketers remain stymied by budgetary constraints and issues related to regulation, privacy, mobile etiquette and measurement.
Paid search advertising makes up the majority of mobile investment. The Search Agency reported that by the end of 2013, more than 26% of the health industry’s paid search click share was coming from smartphones and tablets.
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