The New Health Care Consumer Nov 2004 US News and World ReportU.S. News and World Report is well-known for its Top 100 “best” lists assessing hospitals, doctors, and health plans. Watch for it to further build its position as consumer health information provider for Americans by expanding into a comprehensive health portal online.

U.S. News published this cover in November 2004. So the magazine is no newcomer to this role. However, the publication and its editors (and savvy financial management) recognize the opportunity to exploit their brand position in the consumer health information space.
This isn’t just about arming Americans with health information to be ‘smart.’ This is a smart move for the magazine, as well. Ad dollars are at stake, and ads are the lifeblood of the magazine business. Health care is migrating ad dollars away from TV and toward online. The pharmaceutical industry, relatively slow to move ad monies online, will be doing so in big numbers in 2008 and beyond.
Whichever U.S. news weekly you read, you’ve found a great number of print ads promoting prescription drugs. While colorful print images of a beaver and President Lincoln (Rozerem), Mr. Mucus (Mucinex), and the sultry Bee (Nasonex) won’t go away immediately, they will be buzzing more online, bigtime, in the coming months.
The New York Times covers this topic today in reporting on Hearst Magazines’ acquisition of RealAge magazine. RealAge was founded by Michael Roizen, MD, who in tandem with Oprah’s favorite doctor, Mehmet Oz, wrote, You: The Smart Patient.
The connections between Hearst, the good doctors, and the prolific O is even more intimate: Hearst publishes O-The Oprah Magazine. Of course, Hearst publishes countless titles targeted to women, among them Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Harper’s Bazaar, Redbook, and SmartMoney.

Advertising Age is covering the online ad dollar migration today in their publication, as well. “American companies are shifting more and more marketing dollars out of paid media. You see it happening every day as marketers—smart ones, at least—talk about things such as word-of-mouth and conversational marketing, the kind of activity that doesn’t feed the coffers of media sellers or traditional ad agencies,” according to Q207 ad sales data from TNS.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: Online health information, already consulted by nearly 120 million Americans, will continue to grow in volume and sources. The adoption of social media in health care will continue to challenge the advertising community as consumers claim more control and influence over content. The price we will pay for viewing more health information online from magazines’ health portals may be more ads sponsored by companies wanting their share of our attention. Could a TiVo-type technology soon disintermediate online advertising?

Postscript: when I checked the U.S. News Top 100 Hospitals link below, guess what popped up in the top horizontal ad space? An ad for Rozerem!

Sources: U.S. News Best Hospitals (http://health.usnews.com/sections/health/best-hospitals); Publications on Fitness and Health Head to Web (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/17/business/media/17hearst.html?_r=1&oref=slogin); Old-World Media Start to Feel the Pain (http://adage.com/article?article_id=120490); Source: Publications on Fitness and Health Head to Web (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/17/business/media/17hearst.html?_r=1&oref=slogin)

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