Daily Insights

Are Pharma Marketers Catching Up?

By: Chris Beland | Apr 16, 2019

Pharma has lagged behind most sectors in the adoption of digital marketing practices and platforms for years. But why?

Although people unfamiliar with the sector might joke about it, the reality is that every program, tactic, and piece of content has to be reviewed and approved by a committee. Marketing teams have to work hard to prove that any perceived “risk” is worth the return. The further the idea is from what’s in their trials/label, the more uncomfortable those reviewers get.

Despite the hurdles, those marketing teams are getting better at making their cases. Our recently published Digital IQ Index: Pharma Rx sheds some light on what’s changing…and which brands are leading the charge.


While the brands at the top of the Index leverage more digital channels than those at the bottom, it’s the fact that they squeeze more value out of their efforts that drives their rankings. They aren’t outspending their competition, they’re outthinking them. And they’re investing in where the people are.

Consistently, leading brands see significant returns on mobile investments. They ensure that they have persistent share-of-voice and content that is designed for mobile. They leverage Facebook and YouTube. They are thoughtful in their use of programmatic media placements. Furthermore, each of the top 10 brands leads either the Index or their therapeutic area in Paid/Organic and Branded/Nonbranded search efforts.

Repatha, Fasenra, and Dupixent haven’t hesitated to move into channels that other pharma brands have stayed clear of, despite audiences expecting them to be there…and other sectors proving the value. The roadmaps are there. Will lagging pharma brands leap ahead and catch up, or will they continue to lose ground to their more daring peers?