Each year, I use this column to publish my annual predictions for the New Year. I’m proud of the accuracy of my historic predictions. To judge for yourself how I’ve done, visit our blog at www.ehealthcaresolutions.com/blog and search “predictions” or go directly to this link for 2012: bit.ly/PM360Predictions.

So what does 2013 have in store? Here are my top 10 prediction for what to look out for this year.

Prediction #1

Pharma’s spending on digital, as a percentage of overall digital ad spend, will continue to rise from “bottom of the pack” to “mid-way” when compared with other industries. This will be driven by three key trends identified in predictions two, four and five.

Prediction #2

Doing more with less will remain the theme throughout 2013. Pharma budget and staffing cuts will continue, but both will eventually bottom out as we start to climb the wall on the other side of the patent chasm thanks, in part, to a fresh wave of new drug approvals.

Prediction #3

The emergence and rapid rise of the “Physician Internet”—a private members- only web for physicians. As more offerings have become available uniquely to U.S. physicians, a private web has evolved and it will continue to gain momentum.

Prediction #4

The validation and authentication of online physicians create opportunities for pharma marketers and buying physicians. Additionally, with prescriber audiences online, list matching and personalization will be easier than ever—offering precise 1:1 targeting opportunities. As with our general economy, online “audiences” are shaking out the middle class. Audiences are either very well validated or optimized and carry a high premium, or they are not and are considered remnant. Data is the currency of online advertising.

Prediction #5

In aggregate, Internet ad spend across all industries has surpassed print ad spend. This has not happened yet in pharma. However, in 2013, it will because digital can show a significant measurable ROI. ROI will continue to be the most important metric in measuring all digital campaigns and will be the primary driver behind the continued shift in ad spending from traditional media
to online.

Prediction #6

Demand for ROI, combined with the need to do more with less, will force agencies—often immune to in-depth ROI scrutiny due to their consultative role—to live and die by ROI as well. As a result, we will see a greater turnover of accounts in 2013.

Prediction #7

Prompted by pleading agencies, pharma’s medical, legal and regulatory groups will independently arrive at the conclusion that pushing a standard 60-second video spot online just doesn’t work. They will adapt, evolve and embrace shorter polite formats. As with most things digital, the spoils will go to those who move first.

Prediction #8

Mobile growth and spending in mobile will accelerate as audiences continue to shift from browser-based web to native mobile apps and mobile web. By the end of the year, select large publishers will see as much as 50% of their website traffic coming from mobile devices. As goes the audience and media consumption, so follows the advertiser and the media dollars.

Prediction #9

Not only will the “blending” of advertising and content continue but the pace will accelerate. Media plans will decrease while custom content solutions will increase. The advertiser and publisher are becoming one in the same.

Prediction #10

Embracing the changes arising from the Affordable Care Act creates lots of new opportunities for nimble pharma companies and the rest of the healthcare ecosystem, provided they embrace the change rather than fight it. Opportunities abound in supporting hospitals as customers, promoting the value of medicines by showing a meaningful ROI on your treatments, and supporting care through extended services around education and adherence. Not to mention servicing all the new patients with coverage.

How’d I do?

Here’s a brief look at my 2012 predictions:

1. Pharma’s exploration of mobile will reach “meaningful use.”

2. Big TV agencies lead the online video charge.

3. Pharma to start retargeting physicians via ad networks.

4. Increasing portion of media spend will be directed toward authenticated docs.

5. FTC stirs privacy bucket & takes enforcement actions.

6. Obama wins election.

7. Some solid drug launches and an improving pipeline bring optimism.

8. Publishers continue to embrace eBooks & iPads as digital sales hit 25%.

9. EMR land grab intensifies and they move healthcare forward.

10. FDA guidelines on social media cause much debate and more uncertainty.

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