The Player: Steinlauf primes Scripps nets to face off with media giants

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As a student and practitioner of the ad sales business, Jon Steinlauf knows that brand integration is one of the current catchphrases in TV. That doesn't mean he has any intention of casting brands as principal players in shows on the Scripps Networks' Home & Garden TV, the Food Network, DIY and Fine Living.

"Our audience knows that they won't see a brand in a show because the marketer paid for that placement," said Mr. Steinlauf, 46, the newly promoted senior VP-ad sales at the Scripps Networks Advertising Sales Group. "You can't buy your way into the content."

Instead, he sells marketers on ad-centric interstitials, Internet promotions, off-channel sweepstakes and other attention-grabbers. Real estate giant Century 21, for instance, links with a popular HGTV show "House Hunters" by sponsoring home listings on the HGTV Web site. On-air spots during "House Hunters" point viewers to the site.

Mr. Steinlauf, formerly VP-Eastern sales for HGTV and DIY, might not be a fan of brand integration, but he is a proponent of another hot trend: bundling. Now that his job has broadened significantly, also including Scripps' video-on-demand, broadband and the Shop at Home Network, he can offer advertisers an across-the-board marketing package. The goal is to bundle the assets and offer the advertiser a program with impact, rather than just a lower CPM for a big ad buy, he said.

"We'll connect the properties together where it makes sense, not as a matter of course," said Mr. Steinlauf, an ad sales veteran of ESPN, TBS and TNT. "Marketers definitely want these kinds of deals."

Scripps Networks also has the challenge of going up against much bigger rivals with broadcast networks, such as NBC Universal, Viacom and Time Warner.

To compete, he plans to cross-train the ad sales teams so that executives at DIY, for example, are well-versed in the Food Network's offerings and can put together appealing deals for advertisers.

`great solutions'

"We'd like our networks to be known as great solutions providers," he said. "We're not the largest media company out there, but the quality of our brands means we can create some excellent marketing platforms."

Mr. Steinlauf has a big picture view that makes him suited to his new job, said Steve Gigliotti, exec VP-ad sales and emerging media at Scripps Networks. And he's in lock step with the mandate of using all the networks' parts to serve advertisers.

"He's not just interested in the business, he's passionate about it," said Mr. Gigliotti. "He understands how programming works, how the audience migrates. He devours all the available information. He gets into it like someone else would get into a good book."

An advantage for Scripps could be its networks' home-and-family lifestyle bent, still in vogue with viewers, and its original programming. Mr. Gigliotti believes "there's a real interest in connecting with an audience who's watching the programming leaning forward rather than leaning back."

Fast Facts

Name: Jon Steinlauf

Age: 46

Now: Senior VP-ad sales, Scripps Networks

Challenge: Competing with the major media conglomerates such as Viacom, Time Warner and NBC Universal.

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