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Scripps Networks: Data Will Prove Audience Value


Scripps NetworksIt’s not enough anymore that Scripps Networks’ channels are, according to its Wednesday upfront presentation, “naturally optimized.”

While CPGs know to find food lovers on the Food Network or Cooking Channel, and home improvement brands gravitate toward HGTV or the DIY Network, the broadcaster is working on providing more data to advertisers to enable purchase-based targeting and to prove out the value of its audience.

“Now that the business is moving toward [data], those that have the best audiences will win more share than they have in the past,” said Jon Steinlauf, EVP of ad sales and marketing, in an interview with AdExchanger. “We’ve always got more than our share because of the reach and ROI that we’ve proven, and now the market is coming closer to where the barometer will be the performance of the ad.”

Using data from Nielsen Catalina (a partnership just four months old), Scripps Networks can figure out where it can help a Greek yogurt advertiser find high densities of yogurt consumers who don’t yet buy Greek, and advise them to buy spots in shows where that audience overindexes.

The math works something like this: If 40% of viewers who watch a show purchase yogurt, finding a show where 50% of viewers purchase yogurt will yield a 25% advantage over the US average.

Scripps Networks is also using data to prove the success of its custom, highly integrated programs. Outback Steakhouse created a custom 60-second vignette on “All-Star Academy” last week.

Using Nielsen Buyer Insights, which matches credit card data to set-top box data, it can see how that spot affected restaurant visits. “We’re doing creative stuff with clients, but also presenting custom research that shows impact,” Steinlauf said.

But while it uses the Catalina data to evaluate and index its 200 shows, those shows are then bought and sold via traditional methods. “We’re not using it as currency,” Steinlauf said. “When it’s stable enough to use as currency, then we can trade on it.”

On the digital side, Scripps Networks hired a data scientist “to parse that data so we can make it available to advertisers, and also through the exchange,” said Beth Lawrence, EVP of digital ad sales. Those data insights will add on to existing Scripps offerings, including recently launched ingredient targeting. A CPG brand can place an ad right next to a recipe calling for the product.

Scripps Networks prides itself on the first-party data it collects. For the HGTV Dream House, it received 94 million entries (people can enter more than once), which included age, email address and gender. Those entries generate valuable leads for partners, and valuable first-party data for the media company.

“We get asked this year more than ever, ‘What kind of data do you have? What can you apply? How can I use it to help my brand’s business?’ They perk up about the first-party data sets,” Lawrence said.


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When brands add data and attribution to the mix, Steinlauf said he expects it to prove out a belief Scripps Network held when he joined 15 years ago: that it delivers an engagement audience receptive to advertising.

“The gut feeling then was that because people are watching programming in their passions [and] interests,” he said, “they’re more prone to learning about products seamless to the content experience.”

The Cross-Platform Challenge

If video is video, no matter where it’s consumed, Scripps wants to make sure its video content and brand are everywhere.

“The evolution of media consumption has made it more difficult to reach customers,” CRO Steve Gigliotti said.

“Creating and owning premium content for every platform is more important than ever,” Lawrence said. “That’s why we’ve done deals with Dish and Snapchat and Sling and with our desktop offering.”

Scripps Networks’ distribution includes not only TV, but apps (where a user authenticates via cable provider), digital video network Ulive and the sites themselves, where it often creates after-show content.

For the time being, Scripps Networks divides its sellers between those that sell linear television and digital. Digital includes everything that doesn’t count as linear: websites, apps and Ulive, as well as recorded television or app views after C3, or three days of time-shifted viewing.

While some networks might bundle digital together during upfronts, that’s not the case for Scripps Networks. “Digital video is so valuable in the scatter market, we don’t push it out through the upfront,” Lawrence said.

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