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Enterprise — RealAge.com Links Advertisers, Customers

For Charles Silver of RealAge.com, it’s all about E-mail. That’s because every time you get E-mail through his company, Silver gets paid.

His business strategy: Provide numerous questionnaires that help people improve their health or manage it better, gather the information and then match it with products that are likely to fit their needs. His goal: Get as many visitors as possible to register and receive “recommendations” on better living, which essentially are advertising messages delivered by RealAge.com via E-mail.

Users pay no money to become registered members and receive recommendations, Silver said.

Advertisers pay RealAge.com between 15 cents and $1 to get their message to a desired audience, Silver said. The more targeted the audience, the higher the pay, he said.

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The Sorrento Valley-based Internet firm, which is best known for a test that assesses a person’s real age vs. the chronological age based on 126 lifestyle and medical-history questions, belongs to a new breed of Internet companies.

They call themselves “infomediaries,” companies that use the Internet to link advertisers to a targeted audience.

For advertisers, it’s a dream come true, because it increases their chances of getting their products to people who would be most likely to buy them, Silver said. He calls it the Internet business model of the future.

“We have the ability to laser-focus on ad campaigns,” Silver explained. “The ability to be able to connect users to advertisers on a specific one-to-one basis is, we think, what the Internet is all about.”

Silver, who co-founded RealAge.com in September 1996 with Dr. Michael Roizen, a professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, said more than 2 million registered users have already taken the RealAge test since it went online last March.

Roizen, who works as an internist and anesthesiologist in Chicago, and his team of internists, epidemiologists and nutritionists wading through 25,000 health studies to assess which behaviors are good and bad.

The process took about 18 months. The end result is a 126-question survey that addresses factors from daily intake of alcohol and cigarettes, to history for risk of disease, and eating and exercise habits.

Based upon the answers, RealAge.com assesses a person’s real age, either adding or subtracting from the chronological age.

A person who is 50, but exercises regularly, eats a healthy diet, doesn’t smoke and drink, may be 30 years old in real age. By contrast, someone who is 40, severely overweight and has a family history of heart disease may actually be many years older.

Working on the premise to grow younger, RealAge.com provides recommendations on how a person can shave years off the chronological age. Recommendations often go hand-in-hand with advertising-driven messages.

RealAge.com staffs 20 members for sales and marketing out of its total 76-member staff. They have helped close numerous agreements with private firms with products on the market and online partners, said Silver.

Advertisements from British drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. for its migraine drug, and Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca for its heartburn medication have been worked into the RealAge.com sites, Silver said. Deals have also been worked out with Parsipanny, N.Y.-based food giant Nabisco Inc. and major insurer American International Group, Inc. in New York City.

RealAge.com has co-branding deals with popular Web sites, such as oprah.com, women.com, thirdage.com, myprimetime.com, and family.com and San Diego-based proflowers.com.

All sites are geared toward baby boomers and complement RealAge.com’s target group. Financial agreements vary. RealAge.com pays some partners $1 per registered member or splits revenues with Web partners from ads appearing on their sites.

Other times, RealAge.com gives away content for free in return for information and registered members.

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