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According to Standard Media Index, pharmaceutical advertising is booming, while other category leaders continue to decline.

Expand chart
Data: Standard Media Index; Note: 2017 year-over-year data is through July; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

There are a few reasons for this:

  • Prescription ads generally target older audiences, which continue to be one of the top demographics for news. As news programming grows, the Pharma industry is taking advantage of that reach.
  • As baby boomers age, the audience for prescription drugs increases, which means the industry has more people to reach.
  • Pharma ads often cost more because of their length. (They have regulatory requirements to disclose side effects, dosages, etc., so they often need to take out 60-second ads as opposed to 30-second ads.)

Meanwhile, CPG spend cuts drive industry-wide declines: Agency reports of advertising losses in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) and retail spaces is affecting the entire media, entertainment and advertising market, which used to rely on consumer package goods as one of its largest growth drivers.

  • WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell cited CPG losses as a part of its Q2 earnings misses. Sorrell says CPG makes up roughly a third of its revenue. Havas reported similar losses in the CPG category last quarter.
  • Some of the biggest consumer goods companies, like Procter and Gamble and Unilever, have been pulling back ad spend, particularly on digital, as a result of the overall economic volatility within the retail and packaged goods industries.

Go deeper

Updated 11 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Inauguration Day dashboard

U.S. Capitol and stage are lit at sunrise ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden. Photo: Patrick Semansky - Pool/Getty Images

President Biden has delivered his inaugural address at the Capitol, calling for an end to the politics as total war but warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country.

What's next: Biden has arrived at the White House and he will sign executive orders and other presidential actions.

40 mins ago - Podcasts

Podcast: After the Biden inaugural

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Biden embarks on a consequential presidency

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump tried everything to delegitimize the rival who vanquished him. In reality, he's set Joe Biden on course to be a far more consequential U.S. president than he might otherwise have become.

The big picture: President Biden now confronts not just a pandemic, but massive political divisions and an assault on truth — and the aftermath of the assault on the Capitol two weeks ago that threatened democracy itself.