Pharma and healthcare boost digital ad spend on the way to $4.5B in 2021

digital
Digital ad spending placed on computers, mobile, tablets, and other connected devices will top $3 billion for pharma and healthcare companies this year, according to eMarketer. (CC0)

More pharma and healthcare ads are coming to your digital news feed, but don’t worry; you'll still get plenty to satisfy your appetite for car, clothing and consumer ads.

That rising tide across the spectrum is exactly what pharma's riding: The industry isn't surging ahead, just keeping pace with an overall increase.

Pharma and healthcare shelled out $2.53 billion on digital advertising—which includes all ads on desktop and laptop computers, mobile phones, tablets and other internet-connected devices—in 2017, according to eMarketer’s recently released update on annual spending and forecast for the years to come.

Free Daily Newsletter

Like this story? Subscribe to FiercePharma!

Biopharma is a fast-growing world where big ideas come along daily. Our subscribers rely on FiercePharma as their must-read source for the latest news, analysis and data on drugs and the companies that make them. Sign up today to get pharma news and updates delivered to your inbox and read on the go.

The research firm estimates pharma and healthcare will together spend $3.06 billion this year on digital advertising and break the $4 billion barrier in 2020.

RELATED: Cord cutters are dropping TV in record numbers. Should pharma ad buyers panic?

Still, pharma and healthcare outlays only account for about 3% of the digital media spending pie. That slice is pretty small compared with consumer categories such as retail, automotive, and financial. Those sectors each account for double-digit shares.

All together, digital ad spending in 2017 accounted for 44% of total media spend, with TV on the wane at about one-third, according to eMarketer data.

“Dollars spent by healthcare and pharma on digital advertising will keep going up, but the share (% of total) will remain the same because total digital spending is growing as well. In other words, the entire pie is growing,” said an eMarketer spokesman via email.

RELATED: Pharma embraces digital, or at least gives it a high five

EMarketer’s newly revised digital figures, which outline forecasts for the five years ahead, show a steady rise in healthcare and pharma digital advertising to $4.46 billion in 2021. The forecast predicts an average yearly increase of around $500 million.