Drugmakers still wary of online ad spending

Drugmakers are tiptoeing into promoting their drugs online while waiting for the not-yet-released FDA guidelines for digital marketing. But a new report not only quantifies the slow growth of online drug advertising, but also suggests that the tiptoeing will continue even after the agency speaks.

Research firm eMarketer predicts that healthcare and pharma online ad spending will grow by 10.6 percent this year to $1 billion, the Wall Street Journal Health Blog reports. By 2014, that online ad spending will grow to $1.52 billion.

While that is a lot of money, it's only a fraction of drugmakers' annual marketing budgets. According to Advertising Age, drugmakers plowed almost $13 billion into advertising in 2008--$7 billion in measured media and another $5.7 unmeasured--and that was a down year. As report author Victoria Petrock tells the WSJ, even that $1.52 billion will only account for 4 percent of total online ad spending.

We checked on previous predictions about online advertising growth in pharma--and found that back in 2007, experts forecasted $2.2 billion in pharma spending by 2011. Obviously, FDA rules--or lack thereof--have curtailed that growth.

- read the Health Blog post