Shopping Networks: Viewers Bustle Into MarketPlace

Aug 14, 2006  •  Post A Comment

In the latest evolution to its varied shopping pursuits, Scripps Networks fired up a new service last month on HGTV.com called MarketPlace that includes more than 7,000 product listings and has a new incremental revenue stream attached to it.

The service is E.W. Scripps’ new shopping play-following the failure of its Shop at Home venture, a now-shuttered on-air shopping network. Scripps is also invested in Shopzilla, an online shopping guide.

MarketPlace launched in July on a test basis on HGTV’s Web site as an extension of the network’s “I Want That!” show at Marketplace.hgtv.com. It’s essentially a clickable product database that includes items featured on-air and other home-related goods. The MarketPlace test is the first step in building a product database across all of the Scripps Networks shows that lend themselves to product listings. The service is in response to viewers’ requests to help them locate items they’ve seen on the shows, said Vikki Neil, VP of online classified at Scripps Networks.

“One thing we have known is consumers really want product information,” she said.

MarketPlace charges advertisers a flat fee starting at $2,500 for six months. Scripps is also testing a cost-per-click model. “What we’d like to see is if there is a cost-per-click model, if we get paid for traffic we sent to their site,” Ms. Neil said.

In its first full month MarketPlace generated about 3.5 million page views and 315,000 unique viewers, with a click-through average of 6.5 percent for all companies. The page views helped boost overall traffic to HGTV.com in July to 98.5 million page views. An increase in traffic can lead to more ad dollars for the site.

The products are listed in a searchable database that includes basic information and details on where to buy. “That’s the one thing we keep finding from users,” Ms. Neil said. “They want us to close that loop and find out where they can buy it.”

As Scripps expands the product database, it will add new features to MarketPlace such as video and the ability to let users rate products and companies. The site will also allow advertisers to log in to MarketPlace and update their listing by placing a more recent photo or description or adding purchase information. Advertisers can also obtain daily reports that show the activity associated with a particular product.

HGTV will begin promoting MarketPlace on-air this month and will also highlight the service in HGTV’s niche newsletters. The HGTV broadband channels-HGTVbathdesign.com and HGTVkitchendesign.com-also include product listings that will be folded into the MarketPlace service.

Scripps plans to do a full-scale launch across its other network Web sites in early 2007.

In addition to MarketPlace, Scripps also owns shopping search site Shopzilla, which lets advertisers list their goods for sale and charges them on a cost-per-click basis when shoppers click through to their sites.

In the second quarter of this year, Scripps reported that its interactive division, which includes Shopzilla, earned profit of $16.5 million on revenue of $65 million.

That’s a welcome change in this category. In May, Scripps shut down its TV network Shop at Home due to ongoing financial losses and the lack of a buyer. Distribution issues had plagued the network.