eMarketer’s report on digital spending by pharma is flat out wrong

SUMMARY: According to eMarketer: The US healthcare and pharma industry will increase its digital ad spending by 20.1% to $3.62 billion in 2019. Uh..NO!

An “analyst” entering data onto a spreadsheet is not a good predictive model for pharma’s digital spend. I am in constant contact with key members of the pharma digital community and I can safely say that they are being pressured to reduce budgets, especially their digital ad spends because of ad fraud and pressures on overall pharma margins.

The other aspect is that pharma purchases a lot of “bundled” media which includes TV and online. I have also been asked to scrutinize search budgets more closely as they are looking to tie spend directly with ROI.

eMarketer goes on to say “part of the reason that digital ad spend in healthcare and pharma has lagged is due to FDA regulations that restrict how prescription drugs can be advertised and data privacy compliance laws that make ad targeting more difficult”. Again, this in incorrect. It’s because the star of any pharma media is TV and with football coming online shortly it will continue to be about TV. It also has a lot to do with the continuing problem of online ad fraud. I just analyzed an online spend for a client and found that 45% pf the metrics were fraudelent.

Another thing to consider is that pharma is starting to experiment more and more with social media and, in some cases, having great results.

Marketers have an obsession with numbers but in this case this data will only be used by vendors who need to convince pharaoh companies to spend more money.