HGTV.com Stems Banner Ad Burnout Through Sponsorships

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Home & Garden Television, Knoxville, TN, has hit on tying television sponsorships to Web site content packages as one possible solution to the softening online ad market.


Three different on-air spots, for instance, tell viewers to visit HGTV.com to check out the spring break package, which launched last week.


"They specifically tell you about spring break on HGTV.com and give examples of two or three projects that are online," said Jim Sexton, editorial director at HGTV.com.


The spring break package, sponsored by Sherwin-Williams, will appear on HGTV.com for about two months and posts numerous online tips, ranging from gardening and wildflowers to spring cleaning and home repair. The Sherwin-Williams logo is placed at the top of the spring break content and links to its Web site.


Sexton said HGTV.com is fully aware of the downfall of banner and button ad models.


"It's not working great for us either," he said. "We're looking into a lot of alternatives, and one of the places where it is working is this converged model."


Convergence occurs when on-air advertisers, such as Sherwin-Williams, also sponsor an online package. Sponsorship of an HGTV.com package is a separate buy and is not included in the advertiser's on-air purchase.


"Just like everyone else, we need to monetize what we're doing on the Web site," said Jeff Meyer, vice president for Internet ad sales at HGTV.com. "To do it to the level we want to is expensive, so we need to justify that expense. Otherwise we would have to cut back on what we offer our users."


HGTV.com expects the spring break package to generate 500,000 to 1 million page views, based on previous package results.


HGTV.com nabbed more than 500,000 page views for this year's Romance package, which ran for two weeks prior to Valentine's Day.


The Rose Parade package ushered in 700,000 page views from December to January. The package included a "float-cam" sponsored by SE Johnson, allowing viewers a glimpse inside a warehouse where parade floats are built.


"You've got to build branding into this, because if you don't, you're reduced to the click-through model, which doesn't work," Meyer said. "We can't put money into these sites for our users and expect them to make revenue off of the early-day models of the Internet."


HGTV.com wants to create packages with longer expiration dates.


"We're looking at creating a window treatments package or a perennials package, things which are more evergreen and can be online and on air at various times of the year," Sexton said.


"We're now starting to build a track record of these things where we can show folks numbers and say, 'This is what we're proposing to do for Father's Day.' That's where we see some of our growth taking place," he said.


Home & Garden Television, distributed to more than 65 million U.S. households, provides tips to home enthusiasts from professional home builders, remodelers, decorators, interior designers, gardeners, craft experts and lifestyle hosts.


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