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comScore Teams with IMS for Pharma Outreach

Online measurement firm comScore Networks will work with healthcare and pharmaceutical marketing research giant IMS Health in a bid to expand its client base.

The multi-year alliance between comScore and Fairfield, Conn.-based IMS will see the two jointly developing and marketing products to the pharmaceutical industry that will enable clients to better track and plan their online investments.

The two firms also said they would work together to help clients better understand how physicians and consumers use the Web. As a result, clients should be better able to optimize their online sales and marketing efforts.

In addition to new online pushes by pharmaceutical players like AstraZeneca , the move comes as pharmaceutical companies increasingly are finding themselves contending with the possibility of growing number of generic prescription alternatives, as patents expire in increasing numbers in the coming years.

As a result, it's expected that big-budget brand-building campaigns -- and the research guiding them -- will become vital for established brands.

Recent studies, meanwhile, have indicated that consumers often go online looking for information on specific drugs, and that online marketing provides a higher value for drug marketers than offline media.

Additionally, the alliance also coincides with waning federal scrutiny over the ways that pharmaceutical products are marketed to consumers. Last month, a study from the Food and Drug Administration found little evidence that direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising campaigns -- heavily criticized by some legislators and family and consumer groups -- made consumers demand specific drugs from their physicians.

"Pharmaceutical companies are making significant investments in online activities, from information and brand sites to banner advertising and sponsorships," said David Gascoigne, head of the Promotional Optimization Practice at IMS's Global Consulting unit. "Through our relationship with comScore, we'll be able to give our clients a unique and much-needed perspective on the online landscape and how to optimize return on their Internet investments."

Added comScore President and Chief Executive Magid Abraham, "Together, we can help pharmaceutical marketers make better-informed decisions about their critical Internet strategies, ultimately leading to better-served physicians and consumers, and improved business results."