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Study says Pharma is failing at Web 2.0

A study says that pharmaceutical marketing will account for five per cent of advertising on the web by 2011, but is still not adopting new technology

An eMarketer research study, entitled "Pharmaceutical Marketing Online: Stuck in Web 1.5" has predicted that the pharmaceutical category, which includes hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and other healthcare services, will account for five per cent of advertising on the web worth USD 2.2bn by 2011.

The study reveals, however, that most of the money is being spent on outdated Web 1.0 projects which have limited interactions with users. The study authors said that while pharmaceutical marketers continued to restrict their brand sites to simple online information centres, they would continue to miss huge opportunities to engage consumers and boost compliance.

eMarketer's senior analyst Lisa Phillips, who authored the study, said that the pharmaceutical industry's slow take up of Web 2.0 activities, such as blogs, social networks and broadband video was due to its conservative approach to advertising in general and to government restrictions.

Phillips said that some companies were getting the strategy right and mentioned Takeda's Rozerem (ramelteon) sleep aid website as an example. Visitors to the site see a video featuring the characters from its existing TV campaign. Characters include Abraham Lincoln, a talking beaver and a sleep-deprived youth. Each character asks users to click on his individual section to learn more about the drug.

The novel approach has won critical acclaim for deviating from the standard formula for pharmaceutical sleep aid commercials, which commonly feature peaceful images of people smiling while they sleep.

The eMarketer report also identified that the pharmaceutical industry was growing its share of online advertising, but was still spending much less than those in the top-spending category. For example, retailers, car manufacturers, media and entertainment properties, and financial services firms all spend considerably more than healthcare companies, according to the report.

In 2006, the pharmaceutical industry spent USD 820m on web advertising (4.9 per cent of total) and is set to spend USD 975m by the end of 2007 (4.5 per cent), according to eMarketer.

30th September 2008

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