Prescriptions in Prime Time: Why the pharmaceutical industry is investing more in direct-to-consumer advertising

Hensley Evans and Rachael Pius

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As the U.S. healthcare landscape continues to evolve and as consumers’ media consumption behaviors undergo significant changes, many pharmaceutical brands are continuing to invest in direct-to-consumer advertising—especially TV. According to recent ZS research, we predict that DTC ad spending will continue to increase at a rate of about 10% year over year and anticipate that by 2019, the pharmaceutical industry’s total DTC investment will be around $8 billion.

From 1998 to 2012, TV, which has traditionally made up the largest portion of total DTC spending, averaged 58% of the total DTC budget and only ranged a few percentage points above or below that average in most years.

Starting in 2013, though, investment in TV started to increase steadily, reaching unprecedented levels. Last year, 70% of DTC investment was in television, meaning that in 2015, DTC marketers spent more on TV than at any time in history. According to data from Kantar, for the first six months of 2016, we’ve seen that the growth and focus on TV has continued.

Read the article to uncover the reasons why TV DTC advertising is up and best practices for DTC budgeting decisions.

About the Experts

Hensley Evans, a Principal at ZS in New York, leads the firm’s patient marketing strategy practice. Hensley has developed and implemented strategic solutions that combine marketing efforts with consumer health support programs for pharmaceutical, biotech, OTC and provider clients, and has driven health and wellness initiatives in the consumer goods industry. Hensley holds a B.A. in Economics from Duke University and an M.B.A from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. Contact Hensley at

Rachael Pius, a Consultant at ZS based in Philadelphia, works to drive patient marketing strategy and execution for the firm. In her role, Rachael focuses on helping clients build strategic solutions in the patient support services space and develop capabilities aimed at improving patient health literacy and numeracy and peer-to-peer interaction. Rachael holds a B.A in Psychology and Sociology from the University of Wisconsin, an M.A. in Social Science from the University of Chicago and an M.B.A from the University of North Carolina’s Kenan Flagler. Contact Rachael at