To WebMD or not to WebMD?

screenshot_193POST SUMMARY: WebMD is the number one health portal on the Internet, but is it really required to consider WebMD as part of pharma marketers online media plans?  Not really.

Online media planning is getting more serious if you look beyond the click and impressions.  While WebMD is the number one health portal online media consumption has become fragmented as consumers have more choices than ever searching for health information online.  Is it better to capture consumers when they are looking for health information or take the message to where they are online?


Consumers don’t get up every morning and say “today I’m going to search for health information”.  Health searches are usually started by triggers like a family member getting sick or worrisome symptoms.  It’s important for DTC digital marketers to understand the difference between consumers who are reading the NY Times and going to WebMD for health information.  It requires two different types of messages and is a key reason why DTC marketers should develop a portfolio of online ads to be tested via different web properties.

The other challenge is understanding that there isn’t one health site that’s going to lead to a treatment decision.  Click stream analysis continually indicates that, depending on the health condition, online health consumers will go to several sites to get the answers or support they need.  This supports the development of additional online media development to reinforce key brand messages.

Your online media plan should take into account the following circumstances:

1ne: Where your product is in its life cycle.

2wo: Key brand objectives like awareness vs. driving certain behaviors.

3hree: Measurement of all online media against bounce rates or other metrics like downloading coupons and redemption.

Above all your online media agencies should be continually optimizing your media placement and testing different sizes of ads along with messages.  WebMD charges a premium for their ad space but your media dollars may be better spent looking at taking the message to where your audience is online and giving them a compelling reason to want to know more.