Another year, another WebMD CEO

unknownKEY TAKEAWAY: WebMD has appointed a new CEO and once again the number one health portal shows signs that it’s struggling to monetize its popularity with online health seekers.

I review a lot of online media plans for clients and more and more those online media plans don’t include WebMD.  There are just too many other choices to reach your target audience that have a better ROI despite the fact that WebMD is consistently the number one health portal.


With all the research that I have been a part of, online health seekers usually go to WebMD but the usability experience ranks very low with users often “getting lost” within the site.  Sites like the Mayo Clinic are rated higher in credibility plus online health seekers don’t rely on a single site to make healthcare decisions.

In reviewing metrics for online media plans it has been my experience that WebMD has higher impressions but lower click-thru metrics.  In addition, it’s often impossible to determine how many people are returning visitors to WebMD and follow their actions via a click stream analysis.


The moral of the rank and file at WebMD has also taken a major hit.  People are leaving and management changes are confusing and disheartening. Can WebMD be saved?  Yes, but pharma may never look at WebMD the same way as programmatic buying moves mainstream.

What can WebMD do to earn back pharma?

1ne: Show me the money-demonstrate that advertising on WebMD leads directly to ROI.  That has been lacking from WebMD.

2wo: Forge alliances with market research companies and show results of research at pharma conferences.

3hree: Stop trying to be all things to all online health seekers.

4our: Have account people who understand pharma organizations.

Right now WebMD is not a great choice for an online media plan.