According to Compas, Inc. while pharma marketing budgets have remained steady, since 2010 the media mix has shifted toward more digital and targeted media. There are many reasons for this shift, including the decrease in sales force and increased adoption of new technology.” Looking at how pharmaceutical ad dollars have been distributed across various media channels since 2010, we have seen the well documented increase in digital media channel, which now is commanding as much as a projected 40% of the media budgets in 2013, almost double that of 2012.
While digital suppliers are seeing a major increase, it is not because of an increase in overall budget – rather, this shift is at the expense of print and alternative media budgets which have seen a slow, but steady, decline. Print media spend has fluctuated quite significantly since 2010, seeing a 40% increase inform 2009-2010, and then a 20% nose dive in 2012. However, its representation of the total media budget allocation has only declined on average 2 – 3% year on year, continuing to represent about 40% of all media budgets.
The growth in this channel is directly linked to the growth in both consumer and physician usage of mobile technologies. Kantar Sources & Interactions 2012-2013 shows that 75% of the physician population currently uses a smart phone or tablet device with a staggering 25% increase since 2012 in the usage of tablets. They also have data that reports the ability to reach physicians through online methods are also on a steady rise, with the highest being online journals and reference guides online having reach of 75%. Additionally, digital media offers are wider array of creative options for advertisers making it an easier and more dynamic method of targeting the right message to the right audience at the right time. And digital media is generally more easily measured, making the expense more justifiable relative to print and other alternative media.
Fewer sales reps means a greater need for non-personal promotion (NPP) to get your message in front of your target audience. It has been reported that pharma sales forces have been cut on average 30% in the last three years, 10% of which were made in 2012. While no one form of media will ever replace the personal sales force, the decline in sales effort is forcing clients to look to NPP to recover the loss. We expect to see renewed growth across all NPP, digital in particular, to fill in the gap that has been created by the loss of sales reach and frequency.
(1) This supports Accenture’s findings that more dollars are being shifted into digital.
(2) While the dollars are being shifted into digital pharma HCP marketers still need to find ways to reach physicians through multiple mobile devices and office PC’s. Why would a physician want to engage a pharma company via digital (eDetailing) ? That is the key question that needs to be asked and whole solution needs to be evaluated as physicians don’t have the time to spend more time online.
(3) There are some products which warrant more engagement (Oncology) and some which may not (Testosterone). It is essential to develop value in the messaging to HCP’s so that they want to engage pharma marketers.
(4) I believe that too many pharma marketers have the mistaken belief that digital marketing is less expensive than off line marketing when I know this is not true. Trying to do more with less, in digital marketing, could result in failure to leverage the digital channel.
(5) I still believe overall media spending will decline within pharma marketing both for HCP’s and DTC. More targeted media is the solution to increase the reach within restricted budgets.