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Marketers Turn to Sponsored Content to Keep Viewers Around

To combat the growing tendency among the TV audience to
fast-forward through commercials-especially in the age of the DVR-networks are
becoming more involved with the creation of those ads, especially through using
the stars of the shows, according to The
New York Times.

As the upfront looms on the horizon, marketers can expect to
pay more for ad time-without a guarantee that the ads are being watched, the report said. But
with what is being called "content marketing" (or, alternatively, content
advertising, native advertising, branded content, etc.).

Scripps Networks Interactive, which includes DIY, Food
Network, HGTV and Travel Channel, has been most active in this arena, according to the article. During its
multicity upfront presentations in markets such as Boston, Chicago, Detroit,
Los Angeles and New York, the company has touted its ability to cater to
marketers by creating program-styled content, some of which feature hosts of the
shows, the story said.

"Each spring, we have lots and lots of account-specific
meetings with agency folks, and sometimes the client is in the room," said
Jonathan LaConti, VP, ad sales at the New York office of Scripps Networks
Interactive, in the report. "We create solutions to meet their needs."

The sales teams, however, must make sure that the
commercials look natural; the host, if appearing in the commercials, must also
be "closely aligned with his brand," LaConti said in the story. Though the marketing
practice takes more effort, the end result, "cuts through the clutter," he

During the upfront season before the 2012-13 season, Scripps
Networks Interactive booked consolidated ad sales of over $1 billion, said Jon
Steinlauf, executive VP, ad sales and marketing  at the New York office, the
first time that mark was hit, according to the report.

Deals the company makes the produce customized commercials
can be valued at more than $10 million each. For example, Scott Miracle-Fro
Company struck a deal in collaboration with the MEC agency, part of the GroupM unit
of WPP, to include commercials on four cable channels, online ads and
advertorials in two magazines, Food
Network Magazine
and HGTV Magazine, the story said.

Land Rover, sold by the Jaguar Land Rover North America unit
of Tata Motors, has also signed on with Scripps Networks Interactive, in
collaboration with WPP agencies Y&R and Rubicam, according to the report. The deal includes
customized commercials for TV and the Web, titled, "Travel Channel's Road to
the Unexpected." The commercials feature Travel Channel host Don Wildman
driving Land Rovers around the world, the story said.

"When you co-create with Travel Channel, they bring the
perspective of their consumers to the project and help us begin a dialogue with
them," said Danielle Koffer, managing director for client leadership at
Mindshare in New York in the report,

"This is the fruits of our labors from last
year's upfront," she added in the story. "We'll be looking to do more in this year's