It was the best of times [for the Internet], it was the worst of times [for newspapers].

For the first time that I can remember, the pharmaceutical industry is spending more of its DTC advertising budget on Internet display ads (excluding search) than on newspapers (see chart below; source is TNS Media Intelligence). [We’re only talking about Q1 data, 2009 v. 2008.]

DTC Ad Spend Q1 2009 v 2008
Comparing Q1 2009 to Q1 2008, spending on Internet ads increased by 154% (from $21.0 million in Q1 2008 to $53.4 million in Q1 2009). No wonder there are so many new interactive agencies knocking on pharma’s doors these days!  That’s a dollar increase of $32.3 million. Meanwhile, spending on TV decreased by almost the same amount; ie, $31.4 million.

You could say that pharma took money out of TV to put into the Internet. But don’t count TV out just yet.  The percent of the DTC budget devoted to TV actually increased from 62% in Q1 2008 to 66% in 2009. The percent of the budget devoted to Internet display ads in Q1 2009 was 4.8% compared to just 1.7% in Q1 2008!

Overall, there was a 9.7% decrease in DTC spending in Q1 2009 copared to Q1 2008.