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As the year winds down, STAT reporters are taking a look at the stories they’re most eager to track in 2018. Find all our “three to watch” series here

These are boom times for the multibillion-dollar drug advertising industry — and the parade of ads across your TV screen shows no sign of slowing down in 2018.

But while the money keeps flowing, there are changes afoot: New strategies and channels are commanding more investment, raising fresh regulatory questions. Below, the three questions we’ll be monitoring in the year to come:


Will precision marketing take off?

In 2016, the most recent year in which data are available, spending on drug ads reached an estimated $7.6 billion, counting both traditional and digital channels. Most that money still goes to TV and print, the industry’s old stalwarts for reaching a mass audience. But digital companies ranging from Facebook to Pandora are increasingly siphoning off a share of drug makers’ ad budgets, promising to help target the right patients with far more precision.

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