Healthcare/Pharma Digital Ad Growth Slows


U.S. digital ad spending in healthcare and pharma will grow to $15.84 billion this year, up 14.3%; $17.79 billion in 2023, up 12.3%; and 19.66 million in 2024, up 10.5%,  according to new research from Insider Intelligence’s eMarketer. 

The declining growth rates represent a marked difference from the boom years of the pandemic.

Digital ad spending in health/pharma rose 27.6% in 2020, the only year the category grew faster than digital ad spending as a whole, analyst Lisa Phillips pointed out in an eMarketer article. It then rose another 26.2% in 2021.

The boom in 2020, she wrote, was “providers, insurers, and pharma companies targeting consumers with updates on symptom checkers, office and pharmacy hours, and vaccines.” In 2021, vaccine availability was added to the list.



As the growth in health/pharma digital advertising decreases, so does the category’s share of U.S digital advertising, from 7.2% in 2020 to an expected 6.2% in 2024. Phillips attributed this primarily to growth in digital ads from other categories, primarily digital ad spending leader retail, along with travel and financial services.

In an executive summary of the report, which is titled “Spotlight: US Healthcare and Pharma Digital Spending 2022,” Phillips noted that the consumer landscape has changed dramatically since healthcare delivery itself went digital in 2020.

“Now...consumers access treatment through video visits, mobile apps, and text messages,” she wrote.

Nonetheless, “what’s top of mind for healthcare and pharmaceutical marketers wasn’t caused by the pandemic—it’s the impending deprecation of third-party cookies....Advertisers are exploring tools like first-party data and contextual targeting to stay connected to consumers and clinicians alike.”

Speaking of clinicians, eMarketer said that the share of healthcare/pharma digital advertising spent on B2B this year will be nearly $1.4 billion, or 8.7% of the category’s total spending.

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