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Healthcare advertisers hit the reset button

Healthcare delivery went digital in 2020, and so did healthcare and pharma ad budgets. In fact, 2020 was the only year in which healthcare and pharma overindexed the overall market digital ad spending growth. Digital ad spending in the industry shot up 27.6% to nearly $11 billion as providers, insurers, and pharma companies raced to reach consumers with updates on symptom checkers, office and pharmacy hours, and vaccines. The trend held in 2021 as vaccine rollouts got under way; spending rose by another 26.2%, to $13.86 billion.

The rate of growth will slow now that the pandemic is becoming endemic. We estimate digital ad budgets will keep growing over the next few years, reaching nearly $20 billion in 2024, but not at the pace seen in 2020 and 2021.

Spending still lags the overall digital ad market. In fact, this vertical’s share of US digital advertising will shrink from 7.2% in 2020 to 6.2% in 2024. That’s largely because other industries—primarily retail, travel, and financial services—will pour even more money into digital channels. Retail is the biggest digital ad category in the US, with advertisers spending an estimated $65 billion this year.

Healthcare and pharma marketers will spend nearly $1.4 billion on digital B2B marketing efforts in 2022. B2B spending in 2022 will account for 8.7% of the vertical’s total digital ad spending.