PharmExec Blog

Pharma Marketers Should Think Outside WebMD, Says Report

Brand marketers ignore sites like WebMD and Everyday Health at their own peril, but they ignore the long tail at the expense of their wallets, a report found.

According to Contextweb, an advertising technology firm, marketers are remiss in assuming that consumers are only interested in clicking on a pharma banner when it’s on a medical or health site. By understanding what kinds of non-health sites – and categories of sites – that individuals visit (individuals that click on a pharma ad, that is), marketers can take advantage of cheap inventory served up in other content categories, like travel or sports, says Tanayia Washington, author of the report.

“We’re not advocating that [marketers] step away from health content, as a pharmaceutical advertiser. We’re advocating that you go beyond it…you can expand your buy,” says Washington. “The assumption is that if individuals are consuming a lot of this [non-health] content, they’re really interested in that content. If we can find them where their interest is, it’s a perfect fit for the advertiser.”

The report found that WebMD and Everyday Health reached 16.9% and 17.8%, respectively, of online consumers searching for information on a treatment for an ailment or condition, while the comparable reach figure for the long tail was 69.9%. Similar figures were seen with users who “bought a prescription for an ailment or condition.”

Washington said that placing pharma ads on a non-health site provided brand lift, although health sites offered the most brand lift.

Scaling up on the long tail is easily done, once a target group’s web behavior can be extrapolated, but safety is a big concern; advertisers don’t want their ads mixed up with inappropriate content. “As a pharma advertiser, you’re very concerned about safe environments, so you need to make sure that partners can provide that environment, and scale it, at the page level,” said Washington.

This entry was posted in Advertising, E-Media, Marketing, Patient Communication, Strategy and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.


  1. Posted August 26, 2011 at 2:18 am | Permalink

    Good Post! Ben.. :)

  2. Posted October 21, 2011 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    good post … thanks for sharing.

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