Big Media Companies Launch Health Mags to Capture #Pharma Ad Biz While WebMD et al Struggle | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Condé Nast, Time Inc., and Vice Media have all recently launched health content businesses, in a bid to meet the growing demands of health-conscious consumers and also take a slice of the roughly $6 billion pharma advertising pie.

 

“It doesn't surprise me that media companies are getting into pharma advertising, given the total value at stake in pharma sales,” said Brian Fox, senior partner at McKinsey.

 

What exactly is at stake? Well, pharma spending on digital ads was flat, at $515 million in 2016, according to data compiled by Kantar Media. But total pharma spending on advertising in the U.S. market rose 4.6% in 2016, to $5.8 billion, driven by a 6.4% jump in spending on magazines, to $1.7 billion, and a 4% increase in TV spending, to roughly $4 billion.

 

This may be one reason Time Inc. in July launched a point-of-care magazine as part of the February kickoff of Time Health, a brand focused on video and digital editorial content, among other offerings.

 

These further investments by traditional media publishers into the healthcare and pharmaceutical space may mean several things. Publishers in general are facing a broad advertising slowdown and looking for new revenue options, while consumers are demanding more health news and content. And the move away from banner ads and toward data-driven strategies has created opportunities for highly trafficked consumer sites to market their reach.

 

Publicis Health worked with Condé Nast on a print media program for Xiidra, Shire's new treatment for dry-eye disease. The campaign was unique for Shire for several reasons: It featured one of the drugmaker's few consumer-facing products and actor Jennifer Aniston served as a spokesperson, a rare pharma appearance by an A-list celebrity. Unbranded and branded ads were featured in titles like Bon Appetit, Condé Nast Traveler, and Vogue.

 

Condé Nast's new health marketing division, which launched in April, is multifaceted. The group gives its advertisers with access to its predictive data optimization platform and also develops branded and sponsored content. In addition, Condé Nast has promised to increase its editorial coverage of health and wellness —- primarily through the now online-only Self magazine, which published its last print issue in February. On June 29, Self launched a section that aggregates stories about 30 different conditions and diseases affecting women.

 

Tonic, Vice's new editorial health site, takes a slightly different approach. The site, which bills itself as “real wellness advice for imperfect humans,” recently featured editorial news stories about counterfeit skin-whitening creams and virtual STD testing.

 

While the privately held Vice works directly with healthcare brands to create branded and sponsored content, it does so with the understanding that the Vice voice — described as “engaging and human” by John Duncan, Tonic's associate publisher — is present. Vice's perspective is that much online health content is presented or written in a way that is disconnected from the consumer. By contrast, Tonic features “trustworthy information that you can access, and it cuts through the industry-specific language,” Duncan said.

 

During the 10 months during which all three media properties launched, companies like WebMD and Everyday Health — traditional sources of online pharma advertising — have struggled.