Despite the rapid growth of the Internet and social media, pharma companies remain slower to invest in digital ads than other industries.

Pharma spending on digital advertising is expected to reach $2.84 billion this year, but it is growing at a slower rate than 10 other sectors – just 12.7% in 2018, according to an annual study by eMarketer. Digital advertising in the media, entertainment and computer products sectors, on the other hand, is growing at 24.9%, 23.6% and 21.7%, respectively. 

Spending is occurring on display, search, mobile and social media ads, with the greatest amount of display ads on mobile devices. Social media is increasingly seen, however, as a good way to reach physicians and engage with patients. However, the pharma sector still ranks the lowest based on the percentage spent on digital advertising – just 2.7% compared to 21.9% for retail, 12.6% for automotive and 12.2% for financial services.

The research firm also predicts digital ad spending by the pharma and healthcare sector will slow down in 2019, with growth reduced to 10.6%. On the other hand, spending on traditional TV ads continues to expand.