A new forecast from eMarketer says the U.S. healthcare and pharmaceutical industry will spend $9.53 billion on digital advertising in 2020 — an increase of 14.2% over 2019.
That’s a faster pace of growth than any other industry, with the lone exception of computing products and consumer electronics, which is expected to increase by 18% this year. (Much of that increase, of course, has been driven by the work-at-home (and study-at-home) culture that’s an outgrowth of the COVID-19 pandemic.)
The research firm says the healthcare/pharma space has been slow about utilizing digital marketing when compared with other U.S. verticals, with spend hampered by heavy regulations that complicate ad targeting. That reality has bolstered the popularity of traditional media buys and in-person marketing.
That said, the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted many of those in-person options, resulting in an effort by the B2B and business-to-consumer (B2C) segments of healthcare and pharma to give digital another chance.
“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,” writes Blake Droesch, the author of eMarketer’s “US Healthcare and Pharma Digital Ad Spending 2020” report. “The crisis also led to an influx of marketing around medical supplies, consumer adoption of telemedicine, and regional advertising for reopening doctor’s offices and medical clinics.”
As Inside Radio reports, some of that money is flowing into radio as major pharma companies in pursuit of audience reach, make network and national spot radio a bigger part of their media buys — including the lengthy disclaimers long considered a listener deterrent.
Healthcare/pharma comprises 7.1% of U.S. digital ad spending overall, the report says. That figure substantially trails those of top spenders like retail (21%) and financial services (14.6%) — but for perspective, it’s still larger than the likes of entertainment (5.2%), media (4.7%) and travel (2.4%).
According to eMarketer, the fastest-growing format within healthcare/pharma will be display — up 15.7% this year to $4.04 billion. (Overall, 55.6% of digital spending will utilize search, with 42.4% for display, eMarketer says.)
A majority of the healthcare/pharma digital spending (57.5%) will go toward mobile, below the 68% average for all industries. Desktop/laptop spending is expected to be 42.5% this year, higher than average.
The firm says that while digital advertising spending in healthcare and pharma is growing faster than in previous years, it’s growth this year is “substantial,” especially considering that the total U.S. digital advertising market is forecast to grow just 1.7%.