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Scripps Takes on Broadway

With four separate cable-network properties (HGTV, the Food Network, Fine Living and Do It Yourself), Scripps Networks often finds itself battling with itself when it comes to selling advertising. Later this year, the company will deploy the Broadway traffic and sales system from CAM Systems, a step Scripps hopes will make it easier for seller and buyer to eliminate errors and create compelling campaigns.

Efforts like that won't be unique to Scripps Network. Increasingly the cable universe is dotted with media companies offering multiple cable networks. And in all of them there's the opportunity to cannibalize each other's business in a way that doesn't maximize revenues.

At Scripps, for example, there are two sales teams: one for HGTV and DIY, another for Food Network and Fine Living.

"What we see as the future is the selling of all of our properties in a media plan, not just having two separate plans that create a competition as it were," says Robert Shapiro, Scripps Networks Ad Sales vice president, pricing and planning. "The goal is to bring them together to have a total media plan and throw in online sales as well and cover all the properties."

The Broadway system is expected to be deployed in the third quarter of 2003. Shapiro says the company was selected primarily because it is an integrated system from the front-end planning and sales side to the traffic side.

Traffic and billing systems continue to evolve in an effort to make the systems more dynamic. Electronic invoicing is gaining traction, and there are even discussions about how traffic and billing systems can use EDI to become involved in the negotiation process. Typically, the most important thing a traffic and billing system can provide is the ability to help sales and traffic personnel stay on top of changes.

"The initial negotiations are all set in stone," says Shapiro. "It's when you start doing brand application or moving flights around that things can get out of whack. And that's when you want the cleanest operation you can have."

When it came to evaluating the system, he says, Scripps began with the traffic side. Traffic personnel evaluated the available systems and liked the CAM System best. The kicker, however, was that it was fully integrated with the front-end sales piece.

"When you're dealing in a non-multivendor environment, things tend to work better," Shapiro observes.

With the four networks, there will be upwards of 80-100 people using the system. That introduces a lot of opportunities for changes, an opportunity that Shapiro expects Broadway to live up to.

"It's truly, literally live inventory," he explains. "Throughout my career, the definition of live inventory has been loose, but this will offer reality—not this morning's load. And that's one of the biggest benefits for sales when going out to try and sell stuff."

CAM Systems President Martino Mingione says that, with media consolidation on the rise, the expertise that his company brings, thanks to its work with cable operators like Time Warner, Cox, Comcast and Charter, will be an advantage.