HealthMarch 23, 2021

Why including medical journals in your advertising strategy is more important than ever

Think journals are an outdated marketing vehicle for engaging healthcare professionals? Think again.

Medical journals — both in print and online — remain a critical resource for most healthcare practitioners (HCPs). A year-over-year comparison of 2020 and 2019 survey data shows that the vast majority of HCPs (86%) continue to use medical journals or journal articles for their work or studies. Today, HCPs often supplement their print content habits with new digital resources, but traditional resources like print journals and institutional libraries endure.

Specifically, the methods and frequency with which HCPs access journal content are changing. In 2020, more HCPs used journal-affiliated websites to keep up to date on the latest research and information about their specialties, to study, or to teach. More HCPs also prioritized journal-affiliated websites in 2020 versus 2019: 58% versus 53%, respectively.

As HCPs become more flexible in terms of which medium or device they use to access journal content, advertisers must take these evolving habits into account. Here’s a closer look at how HCPs are engaging journal content and how you can leverage those habits for your next advertising campaign.

HCPs prefer a mix of platforms when accessing journals

Journals are growing more important on connected devices. The desktop or laptop computer is the most popular device for accessing professional information or performing a wide variety of clinical activities among HCPs. In 2020, HCPs preferred desktop or laptop computers when accessing journal articles and/or abstracts — consistent with habits from 2019.

That’s because HCPs typically use desktops and laptops for more robust types of content, especially in settings where print isn’t available. HCPs typically use mobile for quicker, more practical tasks, such as small calculations and references on the go.

But more HCPs chose to use smartphones to access journals in 2020 compared to 2019, suggesting these habits are evolving. This may be due in part to the growing sophistication and improved user experiences (UX) modern devices provide, but the growth of mobile-friendly digital platforms that support modern journal content is also a factor.

HCPs want agility when accessing journal content

Print journals provide HCPs with the opportunity to discover new content in settings where HCPs can provide their full attention. But HCPs also enjoy searching for relevant journal content when they have a specific interest or need. This includes seeking out new articles on specific topics of interest, as well as past articles that they may have found relevant and want to read again.

Desktops, laptops, and increasingly mobile devices make these tasks easy. Among those HCPs who visit the web or mobile version of the journal, 75% do so to search for specific articles while 44% do so to access full-text content.

What does this mean for marketers hoping to engage HCPs?

These reader habits are critical for advertisers to take into account. Specialty medical journals continue to be intransient resources. However, the intentions of HCPs and the contexts in which they find themselves will dictate how they choose to access journal content.

Let’s consider our own readers’ habits when it comes to Lippincott journal content. In 2020, nearly half of HCPs (49%) accessed their LWW journal subscription at least once per week, whereas 34% accessed their LWW journal subscription two to three times per week or more. This frequency is made possible by print as well as account-based access on connected devices.

Marketers can provide readers with a consistent brand experience across all the channels they access. Marketers can also leverage HCPs’ unique searching habits to align advertising with the most relevant journal content. Spanning digital and print advertising — presenting a consistent message when HCPs transition between digital and print — presents new engagement opportunities. 

There are countless opportunities for advertisers willing to embrace the future of journal content. With a clearer picture of HCP media consumption habits, you can further explore the types of content HCPs seek out and why. Access our recent white paper for more in-depth insights and recommendations.

Source: Wolters Kluwer conducted identical surveys of predominantly U.S. HCPs in both Q4 2019 and May 2020, during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis. HCPs in both studies represent predominantly physicians and nurses, including advanced practice and research-based professionals, with a wide variety of specializations.

In both 2019 and 2020, most respondents had been working in their fields for 10 years or longer (55% and 64% respectively) and were 46 years of age or older, but respondents represent a variety of age groups. Most respondents worked in teaching hospitals (40% and 29% respectively), office-based environments (28% and 26% respectively), or nonteaching hospitals (13% and 14% respectively).

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