Pharma spent $3.9B on TV ads in 2021

(Endpoints) Pharma TV advertising boomed in 2021 – to the tune of $3.91 billion across prescription meds, iSpot reports. That’s an increase of 4.8% year over year, which may not sound like much but marks pharma’s steady growth through the pandemic. And its continued growth of national TV ad spending while the rest of the industry is on the decline in the US. What a waste of money.

In a year when pharma has come under attack for raising prices and making obscene amounts of money, the report that they spent close to four billion dollars in TV ads is sure to get attention. This is, in fact, a massive waste of money by DTC marketers who are more disconnected from their audiences than ever.

Almost three years ago, it was reported that only 7% of people who viewed pharma ads asked for the advertised product. With the pandemic, that number has, I’m sure, become a lot less. While reports of pharma spending more on digital begin to circulate, TV is still the number one channel. So, where is the disconnect?

1ne: Overreach & frequency – TV ads for products near the end of their lifecycle are still running way too much.

2wo: TV ads lead to searches online, but pharma websites are becoming less critical to online health seekers – They’re too promotional, and their content is too hard to read. Pharma still wastes way too much money on paid media rather than investing money in usability studies and other valuable tools to keep online health seekers at their websites.

3hree: Online data indicates that people want more information from advertised brands – Data for the top brands via Google trends shows that people want more information about drug side effects and prices in simple, easy-to-understand language.

4our: Research suggests that many Americans are shunning hospitals and doctors’ offices, often out of fear of catching the novel coronavirus, rather than seeking care or asking for new Rxs.

The bounce rate, time on site, and the number of pages viewed continue to be atrocious for pharma websites, yet pharma is experimenting with new digital tactics? P L E A S E

TV is number one for one reason: it shows that DTC marketers are doing something and makes agencies a lot of money. Sure, TV is great for a new launch, but DTC marketers seem to be losing how to pull people into the brand.

When politicians read that pharma spent almost $4 billion on TV ads, there’s going to be hell to pay.