Drugs.com taps Healthline to monetize its 3.6M mobile users

By Brian Dolan

Drugs.comHealthline Networks inked a deal with Drugs.com to become the exclusive provider of direct to consumer advertising for the popular site, which counted about 19.4 million unique visitors in the month of October. Drugs.com provides "free, independent, peer-reviewed, objective and up-to-date drug information" to both consumers and medical professionals. The deal is for consumer marketing on both the Drugs.com website and its mobile channels.

A key part of the deal sees Healthline monetizing Drugs.com substantial mobile user base. In October about 3.6 million unique mobile phone and tablet users visited the Drugs.com site. The group made up about 19 percent of the site's overall user base for the month. The company said that its mobile user base is evenly divided between Android and Apple iOS users, which each account for about 9 percent of the site's unique visitors.

Healthline will sell targeted consumer advertising campaigns on Drugs.com and create "relevant and engaging sponsored content centers" for the site's visitors. Healthline's Senior Vice President of Consumer Media David Kopp told MobiHealthNews in a recent interview that the mobile versions of the advertisements will be fairly similar to the web.

Kopp said that Healthline is a firm believer in mobile-optimized websites over mobile applications. Apps are important, too, but optimizing sites for mobile browsers should be health sites' top priority.

"We believe Drugs.com is the most important site for health marketers on the web," Kopp said. "They have taken the right mobile strategy, which is mobilizing their website. All of the Drugs.com data is literally at their users' fingertips. They have done both: Fully optimized their website and also created apps for Android, iPhone and iPad."

Perhaps not surprisingly, a little over a year ago the percentage of visits to Drugs.com from Apple devices was higher than those from Android devices, but Android traffic grew 400 percent between 2010 and 2011. Apple iOS traffic only grew about 300 percent over that time period. Drugs.com also noticed a "big surge" of iOS users visiting the site over Christmas, while there wasn't a surge in visits from Android users.

Kopp said he agreed with a recent column penned by Digitas Health's Marty DeAngelo about a lack of mobile-optimized sites for pharma brands.

"I don't feel like health marketers and pharma marketers have really cuaght on with what is happening in mobile... there is [this] dirth of mobile-optimized health websites, and that is probably the place to start. Pharma hasn't quite glommed onto that yet. They haven't realized that when people find out that they need treatment during a doctor's visit, the first thing they do when they walk out that door is search for information on their mobile devices. The first ones to figure that out will be in a pull position."

At the end of last year, Healthline released two top ten lists for health searches conducted via their search engines. The top ten health searches via mobile devices was markedly different from the most popular search terms from laptop and desktop users. The top three on the mobile list were "Chlamydia", "bipolar disorder", and "depression". For the web the top three health searches were "cancer", "diabetes", and "symptom".

Kopp said that the lists indicate that the immediacy of mobile is not its only defining attribute. It's also a more private media, which is why the mobile search list includes terms people might be more embarrassed about, Kopp said.

"There are certain conditions that way over index for mobile. Privacy is an important part of mobile," Kopp said. "I think that that is another big piece of why pharma marketers should take full advantage of this, especially if you market a drug or condition that people are embarassed about."

Kopp contended that the list also shows some signs of mobile skewing more toward a younger audience, which may be another reason for the search terms being different on the two lists. However, he pointed to "Multiple Sclerosis" as one search term on the mobile health search list that does not indicate a younger user group.

For more on the Healthline deal with Drugs.com, check out the full press release below:


Deal Will Expand Advertisers’ Reach and Enable Strategic Marketing Programs in Addition to Targeted Media

SAN FRANCISCO – Jan. 5, 2012 – Healthline Networks, one of the largest and fastest-growing providers of health information services, today announced it has signed an agreement with the leading treatment site on the web, Drugs.com, in which Healthline Networks will exclusively sell direct to consumer (DTC) and other consumer-focused advertising. This exclusive agreement with Drugs.com, the most recent strategic partner to join the Healthline publisher consortium, increases the reach of the Healthline HealthWeb to nearly 55 million unique visitors per month – or almost half of the monthly online health information audience, according to comScore.

Under the terms of the agreement, Healthline will sell targeted consumer advertising campaigns on Drugs.com, create relevant and engaging sponsored content centers, and helpmonetize Drugs.com’s substantial mobile audience.

“Drugs.com is the number one treatment site for consumers when they want to find trusted, up-to-datepharmaceutical information online, and we are pleased to become their exclusive advertising sales partner,” said West Shell III, chairman and CEO of Healthline Networks. “Healthline’s proprietary technology and content, combined with our deep experience across the HealthWeb, will improve and expand the ability of advertisers on Drugs.com to reach audiences who are seeking drug information online and through mobile devices.”

Healthline will be creating various content solution programs, such as visual learning and video-enabled MD assessment tools, which will be syndicated and integrated on Drugs.com. Advertisers and marketers on Drugs.com will also benefit from the power of Healthline’s semantic taxonomy and the HealthSTAT ad targeting platform to deliver the most contextually relevant and clinically accurate health and pharmaceutical advertising possible.

“Every prescription medication advertised online is represented on Drugs.com. As the largest and most popular independent publisher of medication information, we wanted a partner that could help marketers take advantage of our critical position in the treatment consideration process,” said Philip Thornton, CEO of Drugs.com. “Healthline not only gives us a roster of strategic sellers with deep DTC experience, but original, engaging content and visual learning solutions that can help marketers reach consumers and healthcare providers at a crucial point of decision.”

About Healthline Networks

Healthline Networks is the fastest growing provider of intelligent health information services, enabling 100 million consumers a month to make more confident, informed healthcare decisions. The company's proprietary consumer healthcare taxonomy, the largest of its kind, powers a suite of intelligent health search, content and advertising services. Combining advanced search technology with deep medical expertise, Healthline partners with a network more than 50 trusted destination sites that include publishers, portals, search engines, employers and health plans. Headquartered in San Francisco and named to Deloitte's Technology Fast 500 in 2010 and 2011, Healthline is backed by Aetna, GE/NBC Peacock Fund, Investor Growth Capital, Kaiser Permanente, Reed Elsevier, U.S. News & World Report, and VantagePoint Venture Partners. For more information, visit http://www.healthline.com/aboutus.jsp.

About Drugs.com

Drugs.com is the largest and most comprehensive drug information resource on the web with over 8.8 million unique visitors per month (comScore, August 2011). Providing free, independent, peer-reviewed, objective and up-to-date drug information at both consumer and professional levels, Drugs.com empowers patients and caregivers to take charge of their health and be more informed than ever before. The site also includes many interactive tools to assist consumers and healthcare professionals such as its groundbreaking Pill Identification Wizard, Mednotes - Personal Medication Records (PMR), Drug Interactions Checker, Support Groups, iPhone, iPad and Android mobile applications.