Is Steve Case on drugs? No, but that's the problem

Former AOL CEO Steve Case founded Revolution Health on some muddle-headed notion of using the Internet to transform healthcare. That dream has died, and what's left — an online-advertising network serving health-information websites — may not have much of a future, says WebMD veteran Josh Wildstein. Drugmakers' spending online actually dropped from 2006 to 2007. Healthcare sites have the same me-too content, licensed from a few prestigious sources like the Mayo Clinic, and they charge high rates for ads. But their ads don't deliver the only results that matter — increased prescriptions for name-brand pharmaceuticals. The sites also frustrate consumers, who end up trolling through pages of Google search results, finding answers on niche sites which are difficult for advertisers to reach. The end result: Pharmaceutical marketers buy cheap, untargeted ad impressions to drum up large numbers of customers instead of spending money on health sites. And we wonder why there are so many Viagra ads online.