At an incredible rate, health and pharmaceutical marketing budgets are moving in the direction of online advertising. In 2010, eMarketer issued a report predicting online pharmaceutical advertising spending would rise to $1.52 billion by 2014. Delayed by the Food and Drug Administration’s marketing guidelines, the industry was at a stand-still in the social media and digital advertising world. That’s when pharma marketers got creative and produced an online ad spending explosion, rising 23.3% to $1.58 billion since 2011. With patent expiration rounding the corner, the healthcare and pharmaceutical marketing industry must once again rise up to the challenge. According to eMarketer’s latest report, that’s just what it will do; by 2016, online pharmaceutical advertising spending is expected to reach $2.48 billion.

The expiration of patents for well-known products will create a serious stir in the health and pharmaceutical marketing scene. Specialized drugs that tend to specific diseases will be the new norm. However, these niche drugs will require different marketing strategies than other big brands. That’s left pharma marketers trying to find less expensive, more efficient ways to promote their specialized products – enter digital advertising.

National Analysts Worldwide researched executives in the United States and Europe to see how this change will alter plans for pharmaceutical advertising spending. 58% will shift their focus toward social media, 55% will increase spending for mobile technologies, and 49% will increase SEO budgets. Through various digital media channels and technologies, pharmaceutical marketers can now produce highly customizable campaigns, targeting a specific audience for these up-and-coming niche drugs.