Self magazine reorganization opens up key pharma marketing opportunities

A still from an online video at Self, sponsored by Allergan, featuring a conversation between a newly diagnosed breast cancer patient and a survivor.

Self health is getting some self-help—and opening up an opportunity for pharma in the process.

Self, the Conde Nast publication, has beefed up editorial staff to expand coverage and is debuting Health Conditions A-Z online as a way to organize content across 34 different conditions, with 15 more to be added before the end of the year. From allergies and asthma to Type 2 diabetes and ulcerative colitis, the disease-specific content areas include existing Self content along with new articles and information.

For pharma brands, the new organization means the ability to buy content-adjacent advertising, which continues to be an important part of marketing strategy for most pharma companies, Michel Ballard, general manager of Conde Nast Health, said. It's also a custom content opportunity as Self adds more resources to increase the amount of customized health content it can create for its site and across the Conde Nast network, she said. The Self news follows parent Conde Nast's launch in April of a new pharma-focused division to increase its reader-targeting capabilities and drive more custom branded content for pharma clients.

Allergan, for example, is a sponsor of the breast cancer section in Health Conditions A-Z, specifically around breast cancer reconstruction. “By supporting the ‘Breast Cancer’ Health Conditions A-Z center, we hope more women feel empowered to ask the right questions and make the decision about breast reconstruction that is right for them,” Carrie Strom, VP of marketing, Allergan plastic and regenerative medicine, said in a news release.

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The reason for the ramp? The Self team has noticed how much more information people are sharing about their physical and mental health online and in social media.

“There’s a real thirst for this kind of information. Self tries to engage the audience by creating engaging content in the health and wellness space that is conversational, relatable and extremely shareable, but still science-based and very credible,” Ballard said in an interview, adding later via email, “The brand wanted to create a space where people could learn about a new diagnosis, but also continue engaging with it long after they’ve been diagnosed. A place to find essays, expert Q&As, and service content that’s specifically tailored to them. It’s both authoritative and trustworthy, and also deeply personal.”

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Another example of the kind of content Self aims to produce is Allergan’s sponsorship of a 10-minute video conversation between Fran, a breast cancer survivor, and Dana, a newly diagnosed breast cancer patient, who interview each other in an emotional and honest exchange. Self posted the video on Facebook on Oct. 12 and it already has more than 1.1 million views, Ballard said.