Hey, big spender: Pharma's $6.6B TV ad outlay outranks most other industries, report says

16 May 2019

Arlene Weintraub / FiercePharma

Pharma is the fourth-largest spender on TV ads in the U.S., with $6.6 billion spent over the past year. That’s according to MediaRadar’s annual study of TV ad spending, which includes OTC drug ads in its total that push it higher than other tallies.

While likely no surprise to most TV viewers, only retail ($8.7 billion), financial and real estate ($7.9 billion) and tech ($7.4 billion) serve up more TV ads than pharma. The industry edged out automakers ($6 billion), a traditional TV ad stronghold that’s been dropping media spend as car sales continue to decline.

The top-spending pharma companies in MediaRadar’s study were Pfizer, AbbVie and GlaxoSmithKline. Pfizer spent most on brands Chantix and Eucrisa, while AbbVie spent on Humira, Orilissa and Mavyret. GSK spent more of its TV dollars on prescription product Breo Ellipta, but also on consumer brands Sensodyne and Flonase.

The pharma industry also helped increase the total of new brands to TV this year, MediaRadar reported. With more than 2,000 new-to-TV brands added, biotech was named as a strong emerging category. MediaRadar specifically noted pharma company Dermira, which launched Qbrexza to treat excessive sweating this year on TV, following a hyperhidrosis awareness TV campaign that began last July. Dermira was listed as one of MediaRadar’s top three new TV brand spenders, along with mattress maker Purple and Mint mobile wireless service provider.

MediaRadar’s TV report in general notes that NFL football, and particularly the Super Bowl as the single biggest-selling ad event, remained dominant in the TV ad space. And while many pundits talk about the shift of advertising budgets away from TV to digital media, MediaRadar predicted TV advertising will remain strong over the next few years.

“Despite some usual and expected shifts, 2018 and 2019 have shown us the continued force for the TV ad landscape, and we expect much of the same for the rest of 2019 and into 2020,” the report said.

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