Scripps Opens Frontdoor.com

GM, Citibank and Coldwell Banker Back Real-Estate Site

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The Scripps Networks has aggressively pursued a course this year to increase its online market share. First, it scooped up Deanna Brown from Yahoo's lifestyles group to head Scripps Interactive, followed promptly by an acquisition of Recipezaar.com in July. The acquisition added 2.5 million unique visitors to FoodNetwork.com's already robust audience as the No. 1 most-trafficked food site, according to Comscore.
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Now Ms. Brown has her sights set on building out Scripps' home category online. Today, the Interactive group introduced FrontDoor.com, its first original web product.

Home-related video content
FrontDoor is a real-estate site that takes a more entertaining approach to the typical housing-market search features, complete with Scripps' extensive library of home-related video content from its HGTV and DIY networks. Ms Brown said the idea for the site originated from research the group conducted showing that 35% of HGTV.com's audience frequented real-estate sites.

"We thought, we have that category and we have that usage, clearly there's a business plan here," Ms. Brown said.

Ms. Brown then approached HGTV's three main advertisers -- Coldwell Banker, General Motors Corp. and Citibank -- about the new project, and to her surprise, all three were instantly onboard. Charlie Young, chief operating officer of Coldwell Banker, said the site spoke to a lot of the real-estate marketer's concerns in listing syndication.

"Getting as many as possible to see listings is critical. While we still spend significantly to drive traffic to our web site, there is no denying other sites like FrontDoor.com also attract major audiences. Having HGTV behind FrontDoor.com is what attracted us to this sponsorship," Mr. Young said.

Hoping to build traffic fast
HGTV.com is already the fourth most-trafficked home site, reaching 4.2 million unique visitors in November, according to Comscore. Competition in the real-estate online marketplace is a bit more long tail, however, with more than half of the category's top 10 sites averaging 3 million monthly unique visits, including FrontDoor's closest competitors, Yahoo Real Estate and Zillow.com. Ms. Brown would like to see a couple million uniques and 25 to 30 page views in FrontDoor.com's first few months. In order to achieve that, the site will be cross-promoted heavily across all Scripps TV and web properties as well as through buying keyword searches across the major web portals. "We have to be a player quickly," she said.

FrontDoor.com's target demo skews toward the younger prospective homeowner, which aligned with Coldwell Banker's initiatives in expanding its online audience. "By being a major player online, we are able to hit this emerging real-estate consumer who appreciates brands engaging with them upfront rather than attempting to control the process," Mr. Young said.

Yet FrontDoor.com is only the latest in what Ms. Brown says will be quarterly announcements coming out of the Scripps Interactive group in the new year, both acquisition-related and with more new products. "To have this much of a strategy in less than six months [at Scripps] is very exciting. It speaks to the pace I like to see," she said.
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