Pharma’s increased spend on TV ads did not increase traffic to branded websites

GlobalData Healthcare 2 June 2020 (Last Updated June 2nd, 2020 15:34)

Pharma’s increased spend on TV ads did not increase traffic to branded websites

The top ten pharma brands spent 17% more on TV ads in April compared to March, raising their monthly ad spend from $156m to $183m. Pharma companies used the window of opportunity to target people who have been stuck at home due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Despite the significant increase in the TV ad spend, the traffic to the respective websites of these brands has not been impacted significantly. The positive impact of TV commercials was likely offset by the population’s general distraction by the news and the general Covid-19-related content on the internet.

New TV commercials largely focused on Covid-19 impact and some offered support and financial assistance programmes. AbbVie’s Humira, which is typically the top spender on TV commercials, doubled its budget for ads in April to $52.9m, up from $25.2m in March. Nevertheless, the number of monthly visits to the Humira.com site stayed relatively stable, decreasing very slightly from 518,000 visits in March to 502,000 visits in April.

The second-highest spender after Humira is Regeneron and Sanofi’s atopic dermatitis drug Dupixent. The companies spent $21.9m in April on TV ads with no significant spending in March. Similarly to Humira, Dupixent.com experienced a mild decrease in traffic, falling from 195,000 visits in March to 165,000 visits in April.

A similar pattern arises for all the branded assets where pharma companies invested heavily into TV ads in April – no significant impact on the web traffic can be seen. On the other hand, two of the top spenders, Gilead’s HIV drug Descovy and AbbVie’s rheumatoid arthritis drug Rinvoq, which both had their monthly spend on TV ads decreased from March to April, experienced a significant drop in traffic to Descovy.com and Rinvoq.com sites respectively. The traffic fell from 190,000 to 46,000 monthly visits to Descovy.com and from 149K to 70K monthly visits to Rinvoq.com.

The trends in TV ad spending and monthly web traffic to the major pharmaceutical branded websites suggest that TV ads had some mitigating effect on the traffic that may have otherwise been lost due to the high levels of distraction during the extraordinary circumstances in the world due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Figure 1: Top 10 TV Ad Spenders – TV Ad Spend and Website Traffic in March vs. April