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Scripps Gets Handy with Lowe’s Cell Phone Campaign

May 9, 2007  •  Post A Comment

The cell phone is weekend do-it-yourselfers’ latest tool for helping get projects done around the house, and Lowe’s has teamed up with Scripps Networks to let consumers know not only where to buy their tools and supplies, but exactly what they’re going to need.
The relationship between Scripps Networks and Lowe’s goes back to before Scripps started Home and Garden Television, now HGTV, in 1994. Lowes is also a big backer of Scripps’ newer channel, DIY (or Do It Yourself) Network.
Like many marketers these days, Lowe’s is interested in reaching its consumers through multiple media, and Scripps has long offered a variety of Web site and broadband networks to allow viewers to get plans and step-by-step instructions for the projects that are done on-air. This is one of its first forays into taking sponsors along to mobile media.
“What Lowe’s is really trying to do is find the people who are going to be doing the projects,” said Jeff Meyer, Scripps Networks’ senior VP of interactive sales. “What we came up with on DIY was a very specific package that focused on people doing weekend projects.”
DIY last month created a special section on its Web page devoted to weekend projects. That section and those projects all carry ads for Lowe’s.
“We make sure that we’re optimizing those packages for search, so if somebody comes in and parachutes into the middle of that package, that Loews has branding there through ad units. And then the deeper you get into the actual list [of supplies], it shows you you have the opportunity to get those products at Lowe’s,” he said.
Most of those projects also carry a small cell-phone icon. That means that list of materials needed to do that project are available via text messaging.
“What we’ve done from a mobile standing is you can text yourself what the project is,” Mr. Meyer said. “So, for instance, if it’s resurfacing your garage floor, you can text in garage, and that will send the materials list to your cell phone.”
That can even be done right inside the hardware store-preferably for Scripps, at a Lowe’s.
“It’s all about trying to help the consumer wherever they are in the process,” Mr. Meyer said. “Some people are going to go and read [what’s on the Web site]. Other people are going to print it out and other people are going to use their cell phone. What we want to do is make sure we’re ahead of that adoption curve and that we can satisfy users, and for us to satisfy a user means to actually give them actual information.”
Television advertising is not tied into DIY’s Lowe’s campaign, but it is to a similar Lowe’s campaign about to launch on HGTV, centered around projects on the network’s program “Don’t Sweat It.”
Lowe’s will run 30-second spots and vignettes on the show and will sponsor projects on the show’s Web site. Those projects will also have the cell-phone icon that tells consumers that a list of materials is available to be text-messaged to the consumers’ mobile. During the show, viewers will also be told about the cell-phone link.
A few weeks into the project, little data was available for how many people have downloaded the lists. But Lowe’s spokeswoman Jennifer Wilson said, “We’re getting quite a lot of feedback from the program through calls to our customer care center. It’s clever, it’s pretty new, and so we’re still tracking results of it, but it’s a pretty neat way to engage with our customers.”
The mobile messaging supplements more traditional advertising, Ms. Wilson said.
“We know our customers are on the go, and this is a way to catch up with their lifestyles,” she said. “For the most part the Lowe’s customer, albeit traditional, is very up to speed with technology, so this is a way of giving those customers what they want now, and that is simplicity. Customers are looking for us to make their lives easier and sending them a shopping list on their cell phone. I don’t know if it gets any easier than that.”
Scripps-run Food Network launched a similar project last year, offering ingredient lists to viewers via text messaging. That meant someone watching the channel at home could have the ingredients messaged to a spouse, who could pick them up on the way home from the office.
While Mr. Meyer called the project a success, he said the company learned the hard way about some of the difficulties inherent in mobile marketing.
“We got a few black eyes from that one, but they’ve healed and we’ve been able to move forward pretty efficiently with this one and so now that we’re starting to understand it a lot better, and we’re thinking about how do we evolve it to make it even better,” he said.
One thing Mr. Meyer said Scripps learned along the way is that the technical workings of mobile marketing tend to be different from cell phone company to cell phone company. That has led to a growing number of middlemen who mediate the technical hurdles.
Scripps also initially thought it would be a good idea to text-message the entire recipe, not just the ingredients, but some carriers had limits as to how long text messages could be, and the data costs of sending a whole recipe would tend to add up quickly.
“What became very clear very quickly for us was give them the facts and just the facts, ma’am. That’s what users are looking for and they appreciate that,” he said.
Mr. Meyer declined to say how much the mobile project is costing Lowe’s. He noted that Lowe’s has “been a very big player and a very important partner to us.”
He added that over the last couple of years Lowe’s has gotten much more aggressive in the digital space, looking at broadband and video-on-demand, as well as mobile.
This mobile effort is something of an experiment that Scripps is doing for a very special customer.
“It’s baked into a larger deal,” he said. “The first go-rounds of these things, you try to get a sense of audience size, you’re trying to get a sense of value for these things and so Lowes is a good partner for us, so we’ll take a flier for Lowe’s on these things and we both learn and we both gain from it.”

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