DTC forecasts are not really that reliable

SUMMARY: According to eMarketer, “in 2020, spending on digital advertising in the healthcare and pharma industry will grow by 14.2% to reach $9.53 billion, making it the fastest-growing sector after computing products and consumer electronics (which will grow 18.0% this year). How reliable is this estimate?

eMarketer has been wrong more times than I can count. A so-called “analyst” who is just a writer, their estimates are done using an excel spreadsheet. They give us insights like this “dollars are being spent on advertising related to COVID-19, as public health organizations and private medical institutions raised awareness around testing, safety measures, and other pandemic-related information,” which aren’t insights at all.

One area I do agree with them is that “healthcare and pharma will make up 7.1% of all US digital ad spending, which is much smaller than top spenders like retail (21.0%) and financial services (14.6%), but larger than entertainment (5.2%), media (4.7%), and travel (2.4%)”. Pharma’s first love will always be TV, and that’s where the most significant slice of the budget goes.

The other study being discussed is the DeepIntent study fielded as a follow-up to an initial deep dive into perceptions around pharma direct-to-consumer marketing in March. According to the survey “, almost one in five do bring up a drug they’ve seen in advertising during a medical visit while one in 10 says they even ask directly for the prescription”. That might seem impressive, but the study omits that those statistics vary wildly from health condition to health condition.

People also reported feeling less informed than ever. While 75% agreed that being informed about pharma treatment options could save lives, more than 30% said they didn’t know enough information before they talked to their doctors.

END Points

I don’t deal in slide decks from vendors who use excel to predict spending or without asking a lot more. I have to I have clients who make budget decisions based on insights I provide. So here are some of mine:

1ne: Digital spending in pharma will pretty much remain flat because of ad fraud and not having people who can provide deep analytics and strategy IN HOUSE.

2wo: Online health seekers are often confused by the quantity and quality of online health information. More Facebook groups are popping up aligned with pretty much every health condition we deal with. The problem is that there is too much misinformation. Studies need to be conducted on how this misinformation is being used.

3hree: Total online healthcare spending will increase. Insurers are fighting for customers, and COVID spending is still vibrant. What’s missing, however, is the need to get patients back into their doctor’s offices for treatments and bothersome health issues.

The number one way to find out what’s going on is to conduct your research and use DRG research by healthcare conditions. It would be best if you always asked, “who did this research and why?” and “how does this research apply to my market.”