Remember Journal Ads? They Never Went Away.

Dear House Rules,

I’m looking for a way to increase impressions for my company’s launch brand. I want to do a print ad—I was always taught they work, and I saw the metrics to prove it, but I don’t know if that’s still true in this digital world. What’s your take?


Everything Old Is New Again

Dear Unpack the Print,

While it’s true that a significant portion of marketing spend these days is on digital media, that doesn’t mean that print no longer has a place. Print revenue has actually increased in recent years – and that’s not print-industry propaganda, but actual fact. Medical-surgical print journal spending in 2015 was up 8.4% to $372 million, according to data from Kantar Media, building on similar gains a year ago and inching closer to 2011’s modern-day peak of $405 million. Concurrently, the total number of medical-surgical print ad pages in 2015 rose by 7.9% to 64,547.

Of course, success is always dependent in large part on new drug approvals, which bodes particularly well for launch brands such as yours. Last year the FDA approved 45 new drugs, eclipsing 2014’s total of 41. Physicians want to learn about new medicines as quickly as possible, and pharma companies want to disseminate that information through as many channels as they can. This can mean deploying informative, interactive banner ads, developing cutting-edge smartphone apps for more tech-savvy clinicians, and designing a website that appeals to both clinicians and consumers. This can also mean placing ads in tried-and-true—and therefore trusted—industry journals still found on every physician’s desk. The implied endorsement that accompanies an ad’s presence in a respected medical journal confers automatic credibility on an unfamiliar name. Wise pharma marketers leverage every available channel.

“People are still reading journals—they’re still effective,” says Art Wilschek, executive director, advertising sales at the New England Journal of Medicine, the top ranked medical journal by print ad revenue in 2015. “Digital is important, too, but it hasn’t replaced print.”

In order to fully leverage all outlets for your brand message, be sure you partner with an organization that excels in both creative and strategy.

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