Scripps Seeing Green

Mar 12, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Scripps Networks is not just going for the green with its upfront presentation. It’s going green.

The company, which in recent upfronts garnered some of the largest increases in advertising revenue and biggest jumps in pricing, is targeting the growing number of marketers who want to reach eco-conscious consumers.

Scripps operates specialized networks including HGTV, Food Network, DIY, Fine Living and Great American Country.

An environmentally friendly house will be one of the centerpieces of Scripps’ upfront ad sales pitch this week.

HGTV is set to air a special in June called “Red, White and Green” that shows eco-friendly building can be beautiful and thrifty.

The network also is talking to Ed Begley Jr. about a second season of “Life With Ed,” which would feature the actor showing his Hollywood friends how to live green.

The company — one of the first to present research on the way its programs engage audiences to help sell advertisers’ products — also will provide new research showing its networks are tops in ad receptivity.

HGTV’s ad revenues are expected to rise 14 percent to $488.5 million in 2007, according to Kagan Research, moving it into 11th place among cable networks. Food Network is expected to register a 15 percent increase to $464.2 million. Most other networks were held to mid-single-digit increases.

“We have a wonderful connection to a very, very special audience,” said Steve Gigliotti, executive VP of ad sales and emerging networks for Scripps.

Mr. Gigliotti said the networks will be presenting a lot of special programming during its upfronts, some of which will involve environmentally friendly construction, a category he believes is going to be huge, based on his visits to a recent building show.

“The whole thing was green,” he said, with displays on everything from mold retardation to solar energy systems and conservation.

One of HGTV’s initiatives in the area will be “Project Green Home,” in which a green home will be built and given away to a viewer in June 2008, he said. The home sweepstakes will be in addition to the network’s annual “Dream Home Giveaway” promotion.

In addition to programming, the network will be touting its performance in holding viewers and getting them to buy products.

“We’ve been doing a lot of research in this category, because there is an undeniable connection that our networks have with their audience,” Mr. Gigliotti said.

While other networks are starting to talk about engagement, “The real laser-beam focus is ad receptivity,” he said. “One of the things we want to showcase in this upfront presentation is the fact that our networks don’t just engage the audience, but that they set that audience up to be very receptive of the advertising.”

Scripps has done its own research on engagement in ad receptivity in the past. Now Simmons Market Research has done syndicated surveys.

“Our networks come out on top in the category of viewers who are likely to try or buy the products and services they see advertised here,” Mr. Gigliotti said.

Altered Stats

Mr. Gigliotti said it appeared unlikely that upfront deals this year would be based on commercial ratings. But he said Scripps was working with research company IAG to provide clients with measures of ad receptivity. Scripps is willing to make deals based on the IAG numbers.

“We will do some kind of business around that,” he said. “But I don’t think it will change much of the standard guarantee relationship.”

In addition to engagement, Scripps has been a pioneer in selling multiplatform advertising. “A lot of client companies are looking for more out of their media partnership than just to stimulate the audience,” Mr. Gigliotti said.

The next step is driving viewers “somewhere where the advertisers can interact and connect with them and have that connection yield an activation of some kind,” by ordering a product, getting more information or accessing a Web site.

Mr. Gigliotti maintains there’s a difference between the use of Scripps sites and those of other channels, which are posting video extras, blogs and other features.

“They get some eyeballs,” he said. “My audience is going to my Web sites to get information and details about products and services.”

About 60 percent of the advertising on Scripps Web sites comes from advertisers buying interactive alone. The company is trying to get those advertisers to move up to the cable network when they want to increase their traffic.

At the same time, Scripps’ multiplatform business is growing.

“Two upfronts ago we had a significant amount of money spent” by advertisers using both Scripps cable networks and its Web sites.

“Last upfront it doubled, and this upfront it appears like it will double again,” Mr. Gigliotti said.

The Scripps networks also are effectively reaching upscale audiences.

“We touch 40 percent of the adults with a $100,000 income once a week,” he said. Three years ago, the company had few financial services advertisers. Now it’s one of its top 10 categories, along with travel.