WebMD sold: Can it get back on track?

KEY SUMMARY: WebMD has been sold to an investment group and you can bet that there are going to be some big changes coming to the number one health portal that might not include a strategy to attract online pharma dollars.

WebMD’s ups and downs has culminated in a sale to an investment group and you can bet that they are going to do what they have to do to turn WebMD’s traffic into dollars for investors.

One of the big reasons for the sales decline on WebMD has been that pharma is using programmatic buying for ad dollars and frankly there are a lot more opportunities for better ROI than WebMD.  Can WebMD be turned around?  Yes.  Here is a bucket list of things they need to do..

1ne: Replace the CEO with an online marketing veteran who understands the online health seeker market.

2wo: Simplify the site with a better user interface.

3hree: Develop online marketing programs for healthcare marketers that show a clear path to ROI.

4our: Develop Medscape as an online CME provider for Europe, whose CME landscape is a mess.

5ive: Reach out to Microsoft and Apple who are developing EHR’s for patients and providers for a possible joint partnership.

6ix: Form a relationship with Manhattan Research to sponsor WebMD exclusive research important to pharma marketers.

7even: WebMD should present as every pharma conference.

8ight: All hands on deck: there is a huge morale problem at WebMD.  To change that is going to require a people focused CEO.

9ine: Go beyond the click.  Develop online targeting that can enhance online ads.

It’s not going to be easy, but WebMD has the traffic and is still the number one resource for health.  Turning that into revenue can be done, but they need to stop thinking about the number of people who visit and think more about the opportunities that these visitors represent.