The health search future

Over the past couple of weeks, the eHealth world learned that RevolutionHealth engaged Morgan Stanley, the investment bank, to help assess the company’s ‘alternatives.’ The early talk was to raise capital, but the tenor seems to have switched to sales or merging. One talked-about suitor for Steve Case’s start-up is Everyday Health.

This news comes on the heels of a new comScore report that reports 21% growth in the "health information" site category, from 57 million visitors in July 2007 to 69 million in July 2008.

The No. 1 in health search portals continues to be WebMD, which grew by 3 percent year on year. WebMD was also top in display ads versus other health sites. WebMD had 290 million display ad views in July 2008.

The big growth among WebMD’s competitors was achieved by Everyday Health, which increased a whopping 63% to nearly 15 million visitors; RevolutionHealth, increasing 182%, with 11 million visitors; and, AOL Health, which grew 88% to 11 million visitors.

Everyday Health is part of the larger media company, Waterfront Media. Waterfront’s properties span a broad range of strongly-branded consumer interests including What to Expect (from the popular pregnancy and child rearing book titles), South Beach Diet, Dr. Andrew Weil’s My Optimum Health Plan, Denise Austin, Jillian Michaels, Living Well with Montel (Williams), and Shaq’s Big Family Challenge.

Jane’s Hot Points: Since we’re talking about media and advertising here, we know that size — the metrics for which are defined by visitors and display ad views — matters. If Revolution Health and Everyday Health merged their viewership, their size could surpass that of WebMD, which has reigned King of Health Portals by that metric since the start of the eHealth era. No deal is done until it’s done, but if this deal is done, it will shake up comScore’s league table.

For Everyday Health and the larger Waterfront Media, they would have an even broader channel choice for advertisers to promote across. In this post-broadcast phase for health and consumer advertising, having the ability to integrate direct-to-consumer ads (in the broadest sense of the phrase) across different media is crucial for achieving a sound ROI for ad dollar spending. The Revolution-fortified Everyday Health could be an even more attractive ad partner for health and related lifestyle companies.

Furthermore, this deal or a similar one will signal the impending consolidation of more health portals into larger properties.

5 replies »

  1. Out of the ashes, perhaps a “Healtheon 2.0” version might emerge as the model is rebuilt “ground up” (vs. its top down sibling) by Health2.0 companies? The plug and play combnination of niche H20 innovators might just roll up into something of real value to the consumer.
    Generating quality content to be more attractive to ad sponsors somehow seems like a a misdirection play, IMO.
    Where is the re-structuring or innovation of the finance and delivery systems component in that approach? Other than selling more stuff, where’s the value?
    WebMD and its successor competition, don’t seem to be positioning themselves as system change agents; only more efficient ad copy generators.

  2. No offense, Kevin, but gobbie, gobbie, gobbie. It’s the failure to innovate beyond an antiquated ad-driven model that is going to doom a lot of these firms, “networked” or not.

  3. This represents a growing broader trend across all Web verticals where niche sites are trying to “network” to create more scale for advertisers.
    Seems everyone is thinking quantity and “tonage” today. However, sites must not forget they need to create a compelling, personalized experience for visitors and continue to innovate. Otherwise, there’ll be no one for the advertisers to reach.

  4. Rev Health was really a Health 1.0 company, wasn’ it? Wonder how much money they burned . . .