IQ News: Contact Lens E-tailer Unveils Online Ad Effort




Hoping to (literally) catch the eyes of consumers, eLens.com, the Hewlett, N.Y., contact lens e-tailer, today will launch a new online advertising campaign.
The company will run a series of banner ads–scheduled to appear for one year–on America Online in conjunction with ongoing national TV, online and print spots.
“We hope to leverage the credibility and community of AOL to widen our reach,” said Allen Alovis, CEO of eLens.com. As part of the integrated campaign, the site’s AOL keyword (“eLens”) will be prominently featured in television and print ads to reinforce the brand and help drive users to the site, www.eLens.com.
The campaign was created by Lazar, Stricker & Nowack of New York. The AOL banner ads feature photos of popular brands of contact lenses and also will appear on search results pages when users enter “contact lens” and similar phrases. The ads will highlight free shipping, low prices and convenience.
ELens.com is also running a flight of ads on Netscape, Yahoo! and studentadvantage.com, a Boston-based site focused on the college market. On the traditional media side, TV spots will air on ABC, NBC, Discovery, Nickelodeon and the Sci-Fi Channel, while print advertising will include 100 million inserts in newspapers across the country, including The New York Times, Newsday and the Washington Post. Ads will also appear in Cosmopolitan and Glamour magazines.
“Unlike 800contacts.com and Lens Express, we are a pure-play Internet business,” said Alovis. “Our competitors advertise mainly on television, focusing on telephone sales. We focus on Internet sales, and 70 percent of our orders come in through our site.”
At least one of eLens.com’s competitors has a different take on the situation. While Lens Express TV ads do promote telephone sales, they “also promote online sales,” said Brian O’Neill, executive vice president of Lens Express. “We have a co-branded partnership with PlanetRx and have been selling contacts on the Net for four years,” O’Neill pointed out.
The eLens.com site is undergoing a major redesign, which is scheduled to launch in May. “We plan to be the largest single destination site for our industry. Our tagline will be, ‘Everything for your eyes,’ ” Alovis said. The revamped site will offer new features such as community chats and information on various eye problems and related subjects.
Though the company is Net-focused and does not have a bricks-and-mortar operation, eLens has something of a traditional background. The three Alovis brothers who run the firm (Ken, executive vice president, Rick, president, and Allen, CEO) are opticians, as were their father, grandfather and great-grandfather. n