Media magnate Barry Diller’s got his eyes on health advertising. His media portfolio company IAC has entered into a deal with the HealthCentral network for a new advertising network which aims to be the #2 site-of-choice for health ad placement after WebMD (with about 40 million monthly visitors). HealthCentral will be IAC’s exclusive channel for pharmaceutical ads. IAC will be HealthCentral’s channel for consumer health products (e.g., OTCs and wellness goods).

HealthCentral operates 35 health sites and 10 million visitors each month.
IAC operates Evite,, Ticketmaster,, Citysearch, and HSN (Home Shopping Network), among other consumer sites. IAC’s sites attract about 45 million users per month. The company became a minority investor in HealthCentral earlier this year.
Of particular note is that Evite’s users are primarily women age 25-49 years of age. This is a key demographic for health ad targeting — especially Mothers (to understand the salience of this demographic cohort, read my post on Mother-Power Online).

Health Populi’s Hot Points: While the pharma industry has lagged behind other sectors in the Web 2.0 world, pharma companies are expected to spend $2.2 billion online by 2011 according to eMarketer.
Health consumers who want to opt-in to ad networks will do so based on transparency and trust. Those who seek information on managing chronic conditions (whether patients themselves or their caregivers) can find trustworthy communities of fellow citizens online. Whether these ad networks gain traction — in the form of click-throughs and, ultimately, increased prescriptions filled and adhered-to — remains to be seen.
Peter Kruger of Wireless Healthcare points out that ad-based revenue models in health may not pan out the way other consumer product categories do. He writes, “Advertising and healthcare do not mix well and this issue is already proving to be controversial. I am sure that regulators would be unhappy if banner advertisements started to appear on a patient’s online medical record or diagnosis.”

The modus operandi for health ad networks must be opt-in and transparency. Consumers are looking for engagement in health: on their own terms.