ID To Focus On MD, Rx Too: IPG Media Shop Opens Healthcare Unit

Interpublic media agency ID Media is launching a specialty unit focusing on healthcare marketing and pharmaceutical brands, naming Michael Maher president of ID Health.

“We had already been doing a fair amount of healthcare media -- about 25% of our business was in healthcare and we handle over 50 healthcare brands,” says Maher, who joins the Interpublic unit from Publicis’ Digitas Health, where he was senior vice president-marketing.

Given its heavy coverage of healthcare accounts, Maher says ID had been kicking around the idea of the new unit for a while, but recent changes in the healthcare industry, especially the passage and implementation of Obamacare, as well as dramatic shifts in the nature of pharma branding, convinced the agency’s management team 2014 was the right time for it.

“There is so much change in healthcare and media that it made sense to do it now,” he explains citing the so-called “patent cliff” -- a term used to describe an unprecedented number of blockbuster proprietary drugs all losing their patents at the same time.

As a result, the pharmaceutical industry reported its first decline in sales growth in 60 years, Maher notes, adding that the industry is now shifting its focus to smaller prescription drug markets that focus on more specialized diseases and ailments.

That shift, combined with the hyper-fragmentation of media audiences, requires a very different media focus for pharma brands, Maher said. That includes more sophisticated uses of data, and even the adoption of programmatic audience buying systems.

Maher’s digital chops will come in especially handy, he says, because some of the biggest changes taking placing in healthcare media involve the fusion of media and healthcare itself. Specifically, he cites advancements in “wearable devices,” and especially so-called “quantified self” technologies that enable consumers to monitor their own biometric data, which could lead to disease detection and treatment.
Tags: agency, pharma
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