R.J. Lewis founded e-Healthcare Solutions as a vertical Internet advertising network dedicated to healthcare. His firm provides specialty online advertising opportunities for marketers of medical and pharmaceutical products who want to reach consumers, physicians, and other health professionals.
This unusual advertising distribution network delivers more than 35 million page views per month. It has more than 350 healthcare sites includes sites for doctors, disease-specific sites for consumers, and those for particular medical communications. Lewis has just signed a contract for his firm to be the exclusive online advertising representative for the American College of Surgeons.
He employs just under a dozen people, including four sales people, and needs to expand; he is looking for a building to buy. As an advertising representation firm for the Internet, his business model differs from the traditional print model, which requires the company to sell the ad and let the publishing company do most of the work.
“Their responsibility begins and ends with the sale. It’s up to the publisher to do the mechanicals, layout, press, distribution, tear sheets, billing, collection,” he says. “On the web we do all of that.” His firm rotates in different ads, meets targeting requirements and frequency caps, provides screen shots or click throughs to data, and does billing and collection. Whenever a trade group’s website wants an ad, it codes the website to reach out to Lewis’s server. “If a company wants a million impressions of its heart drug on the American Heart Association website between January and December, we would rotate them in. If there will be 3 million impressions, we rotate others in.”
Professional societies make up half of his commission-based business. On his impressive client list — the American Medical Association (AMA), JAMA, American Medical News, Thomson’s PDR, the American Heart Association, the American Academy of Neurology, and 15 journals published by Elsevier, Lippincott’s Williams & Wilkins medical division. The remainder of his business comes from low profile consumer-oriented healthcare websites.
Lewis grew up on Long Beach Island, where his father was a principal and his mother a teacher. They now own and operate the Education Academy, based in Fork River, for disturbed or neurotically impaired children. His sister is an oncologist at Fox Chase. After majoring in marketing at the University of Delaware, Class of 1990, he spent two years traveling around the world, living in Australia for seven months, where he worked in an agency and had his first exposure to the advertising industry.
Such extended stays, he says, “allow you to take off the American filters and see the world from a different perspective. Plus you get a sense for the size of the world, sometimes incredibly small (you run into people that you went to college with) and, at other times, feels quite large.”
He believes the journey helped him to develop an appreciation for other cultures, which is critical when working on the Internet. “The Web is a global medium, first and foremost.” And he polished his ability to deal with other people.
What pushed Lewis to do his round-the-world trip right away was when his parents arrived in Hawaii, where he was spending his junior year “abroad.” “I had been doing Hawaii in a convertible Jeep, surfing and scuba diving. They enjoyed it in a different way; they rode around with the windows up and the air conditioning on.” Lewis eventually earned an MBA from NYU. He worked at the medical education division of the Grey Healthcare Group. Most recently Lewis was vice president of sales for Physicians’ Online and personally generated more than $7.5 million in advertising and sponsorship sales. He dismisses the notion that Internet ads will cannibalize the budget for print ads. “Print revenues in general are flat or in decline. We are trying to grow the online revenue for publishers at a pace to make up the losses. And if money has been allocated to the Internet, you can’t swim against the tide.”
Internet advertising also turns out to have different buyers with different skill sets. “The AMA has 15 sales reps in Parsippany and we don’t step on each others’ toes — we coordinate and do lead sharing.” An unusual sideline to the business is a market in E-health articles. “After less than a year, we have uploaded more than 3,000 articles to our database,” he says. The sole payment to the author is a link to his or her own website. “They are either selling advertising or have a subscription model.”
e-Healthcare Solutions Inc., 548 Grand Avenue, Ewing 08628; 609-882-8887; fax, 425-671-7796. R. J. Lewis, CEO. www.e-healthcaresolutions.com