Media Spending: Slowing Down, But Not Out

Feb 01, 2002

Spend Trends 2001
Pharma industry budgets fared better than those for other sectors on Madison Avenue, but the economic downturn, pricing pressures, and September 11 took their toll on pharma's consumer and professional promotion.

Spending on DTC advertising from January through September showed the smallest year-to-year increase since 1997 for the same time periods. Competitive Media Reporting (CMR) data show that DTC spend increased 13.5 percent to $1.97 billion from $1.73 billion in 2000. Network radio, outdoor, and local television were hit the hardest among advertising venues, while syndicated television, Sunday magazines such as Parade, and newspapers grew 87, 73, and 54 percent, respectively.

"Expect the real money to be dropped in the first quarter of 2003 due to pharma companies' long lead times with their budgeting processes," says Tig Tillinghast, a weekly columnist for online marketing forum, regarding the 11 percent increase in online spending from January through September 2001 compared with that same time period 2000. "Online advertising has proved itself in a hard, ROI manner, and those are the budgets that are much more secure in circle-the-wagon periods like this one."

On the professional side, after a few years of flatlining, spending on journal advertising decreased 23 percent from May through September 2001 compared with the same time period in 2000, according to Scott-Levin.

Market research company PERQ/HCI reports that most of the cutbacks were from smaller pharma companies and equipment and supply manufacturers.

"The decline in advertising affected the smaller books," says Charlie Rutman, PERQ/HCI president, "and contributed to the folding of some well known publications like Hospital Medicine, Hospital Practice, and Patient Care for the Nurse Practitioner.

"FDA has been slower to approve products, which has a significant impact on journal advertising because it is commonly used for product launches," Rutman says. "In 2002, if some of the products pending approval are cleared, spending will be even or increase."

Detailing, which pharma traditionally backs with the majority of its professional promotional spending, grew 5.2 percent-a slightly slower rate than the 8 percent growth that occurred from 1999 to 2000.

Meetings and events will likely undergo the most change in 2002. Until the terrorist attacks of September 11, that category demonstrated the most growth in professional promotion with a 14 percent increase in spending May through October 2001 compared with the same months in 2000.

Allen Konopacki, anexhibits consultant atINCOMM Research says companies may travel to fewer exhibitions in 2002 but won't necessarily cut their budgets. The amount spent may actually increase because of spending on more lavish prelaunch exhibits as well as development of separate exhibits for medical affairs.

After the spending frenzy of 2000, marketers were unprepared to scrutinize line items within their 2001 budgets. With companies demanding budget justification with positive ROI, agencies that can work in media and develop tools that accurately target and measure consumers' and physicians' reception to pharma's messages should not only survive, but prosper.

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