Mobile ad spending up, but pharma's share remains small

Mobile phone

Digital ad spending last year was just shy of $60 billion, with pharma accounting for about $3 billion of that, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s annual ad revenue report prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Digital spend grew by 20% year over year overall, with the biggest gains in mobile advertising, which grew 66% to tally $20.7 billion in revenues.

“There is no question that interactive screens are attracting consumers and the advertisers that want to reach them where they live--increasingly on mobile devices,” said Sherrill Mane, senior VP of research, analytics and measurement at the IAB, in a news release.

Retail, finance and cars are still the biggest overall spenders in digital media, the IAB report found, accounting for 22%, 13% and 13% of the total spend respectively. The pharma and healthcare category was eighth on the list of IAB industry spenders, contributing 5% of the total digital spend, the same share it accounted for the past two years. It ranked even with media at 5% and just above entertainment with 4% of total revenues.


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However, the flat percentage of total spending from year to year doesn’t mean pharma isn’t growing its digital spend, just that it’s not growing its share among the industries. Leerink financial analyst Steven Wardell recently told FiercePharmaMarketing he expects digital pharma marketing spend to grow at 13% annually.

Mobile advertising, the 2015 growth engine for online spending, has admittedly not been a strong area for pharma, however, there have been moves in that space as well. A recent deal between healthcare marketing analyst Crossix and mobile ad tracker 4Info was called “a channel awakening,” in a 4Info blog post, noting that “pharma marketers have historically struggled to reach qualified health audiences with mobile advertising, due to challenge of upholding HIPAA privacy rules” which the partnership addresses via 4Info’s non-individual identified data.

- see IAB news

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