Biopharma Increasingly Shifting Marketing Dollars to Digital Channels


Indegene recently published “The Digital Savvy Pharma Marketer 2020,” which looked at trends in biopharma marketing. One of the big findings was a shift in where biopharma is spending its marketing dollars as it moves even more of its marketing to digital marketing channels.

The report found that currently, biopharma puts about 20% of its marketing budget into digital marketing, but expects to increase that by more than 70% over the next six years. Those digital channels include third-party websites and online journals in the U.S. and tele-detailing in Europe and Asia. These were noted as receiving the highest rating for “white space marketing,” meaning where no defined market for a specific product exists.

The report notes, “Advancements in technology are redefining marketing practices in the pharmaceutical industry. Traditional channels such as television and radio are unable to provide on-demand information to a new generation of healthcare professionals, who are as comfortable with a stethoscope as they are with a smartphone and are moving the marketing needle.”

One of the findings was that digital channels deliver 24% higher productivity compared to traditional channels like TV and radio when it comes to engaging patients. The most effective digital channels for engaging healthcare professionals was key opinion leaders (KOL) webinars, social media, and marketing emails.

One of the areas that is coming into the focus is the advantage of personalized content. For example, the report breaks down the top three effective content strategies in the Americas, Europe, and Asia, and the top strategy in each was personalization of content. In the Americas, the other two were retargeting of content and localization of content; in Europe, two and three were adapting content to device compatibility and promotion of content through infographics; for Asia, the second and third were repurposing content into videographics and promotion of content through infographics. Overall, personalization of content was utilized by 74% of biopharma marketers.

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The study notes, “Content personalization has generated the maximum returns for pharmaceutical companies as they grapple with reducing face-to-face engagements through their medical representatives.”

The report broke down a typical $100 spent by pharma marketers (which, of course, is simply percentages). Out of the $100, $15.29 was spent on HCP/Brand Portals, $14.21 on marketing emails, $8.83 on medical science liaison, $8.77 on KOL webinars, $7.86 on e-detailing, $7.64 on remote detailing, $7.62 on online journals, $7.65 on mobile apps, $7.54 on social media, $7.10 on non-promotional websites, and $12 on text messages/SMS.

The study notes, “On an average, the number of organizations that spend more than 20% of their budget on digital marketing channels is expected to increase by 31% over the next three years and by 73% over the next six years. The budget increase pattern highlights how marketing organizations across the globe are undergoing a structural change.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, marketing groups are working to automate the digital marketing processes and leverage analytics. The report says, “Based on survey results, these companies utilize what is now considered as ‘staple’ technology (such as campaign management) and need to scale up investments in advanced technologies. Digital analytics tools seem to be the most popular technology choice among pharma marketers with close to 65%, stating it has already been implemented within their marketing stack.”

One of the tidbits, out of a richly detailed report, is that the top three channels preferred by healthcare providers are online journals, websites, and KOL webinars. The top three channels preferred by pharma marketers are KOL webinars, social apps, and e-detailings, largely because they get the greatest return on investment from KOL webinars, with the least return from social apps.

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