As advertising increasingly moves online, so has pharma and healthcare's share. This year the industry is expected to spend more than $9.5 billion on digital media, according to researcher eMarketer.
The industry's increase of more than 14% puts it in the number two spot by growth rates, just behind computing products and consumer electronics at 18%.
While pharma and healthcare has been slower to embrace digital marketing compared with the other industries eMarketer tracks, the pandemic has accelerated consumer and professional digital advertising in the sector, the researcher said.
And eMarketer expects that trend to continue. For 2021, digital ad spending is forecast to increase another 18% to an estimated $11.3 billion.
Driving this year's boost is digital marketing spend on pandemic messages around testing and safety, as well as related topics that include telemedicine, medical supplies and reopening doctor's offices, eMarketer said.
More than half of pharma and healthcare's digital spending (56%) in 2020 will go toward search advertising, while the rest will go to display or banner type ads.
Even with increased spending, pharma itself is still in the middle of the pack among other verticals. It accounts for about 7% of all U.S. digital ad spending, much lower than top spenders like retail at 21% and financial services at 15%, but more than industries hit hard by the pandemic, such as entertainment at 5.2% and travel at 2.4%.