As pharma shifts dollars from TV to digital, Condé Nast's new buying plan scores

Conde Nast Health Carrie Moore
Carrie Moore, head of health at Condé Nast, talked about the success of the company's digital HealthFront among pharma marketers earlier this year. (Condé Nast)

Pharma companies embraced Condé Nast Health's new way to buy upfront digital advertising in a big way this year, and it’s set to be even bigger next year. The publisher debuted its Health NewFront in the spring to keen pharma interest, particularly in the severe asthma and psoriasis categories.

Among its top 10 pharma buyers, one unnamed pharma marketer has already tripled its ad spending with Condé Nast Health for 2020, said Carrie Moore, head of health at Condé Nast. And along with that big buy, the traditional leading TV advertiser also bought early—at the same time it bought TV, in fact. That’s a big shift in the way pharma has traditionally bought digital, previously more often as an add-on after the TV spend.

“With TV viewership trends changing and evolving, pharma is slightly behind the eight-ball as it relates to shifting TV dollars into more digital-first strategies, but we’ve seen a significant investment from one of the largest spenders in the television category,” Moore said. “… We consider it to be a milestone because we know as larger players make these moves, more and more people in pharma will follow.”

RELATED: Pharma's digital ad spending set for a leap in 2020 as TV flattens out, forecast says

That’s not to say pharma companies aren’t buying TV, but rather that they're shifting some dollars to digital and, more importantly, are beginning to consider digital just as important and strategic as TV.

One of the pharma enthusiasts for the new Condé Nast format is Dermira, which debuted both a big awareness campaign for an excessive sweating condition called hyperhidrosis and a separate large DTC effort for new treatment Qbrexza in the past 18 months.

The appeal for Dermira is the ability to reach its target audience—millennials between the ages of 18 and 34—where those young people are already flocking to consume content.

“Millennials aren’t really searching for health content because they are otherwise healthy. However, if you’re talking about good eating, working out and staying active, the millennial audience is consuming that kind of content. We believe it’s best to communicate and deliver messages around good health versus trying to cut through the clutter and to try to reach them where they’re not looking for information," Lyndi Hirsch, head of consumer marketing at Dermira, said.

RELATED: For its first Qbrexza ads, Dermira features real patients with severe sweating

Dermira created programs with Condé Nast digital title Self to target female millennials and GQ to reach male millennials. The programs include both written and video content that tell the stories of hyperhidrosis sufferers. While Dermira is still working on tallying ROI, Hirsh said the company is encouraged by the strong engagement with its Condé Nast Health programs, which have exceeded Dermira’s expectations.

Moore attributes the platform's success to a combination of well-known quality content brands, engaging content and data-driven targeting, all within a brand-safe environment offered at scale.