Perfect Sense and Scripps Networks Interactive: 

An Enduring Partnership

Overview

HGTVFood NetworkTravel Channel.  These are just a few of Scripps Networks Interactive’s vibrant brands that Perfect Sense, in partnership with Scripps, has helped to revitalize and thrive.  Scripps was Perfect Sense’s first client and remains its largest.  Ever since the company was founded in 2008, Perfect Sense and Scripps have worked together continually, transforming old sites, building emerging brands, adding innovative new features, optimizing sites for mobile usage, and driving continual improvements throughout the Scripps digital portfolio. 

Perfect Sense has provided product strategy and leadership for more than 40 discrete Scripps projects over the course of the partnership.  Additionally, Perfect Sense’s technology leadership, development, project management, design, and operations expertise and reliability have been key reasons why the Scripps/Perfect Sense Digital relationship is stronger than ever.

The Start

“In 2008, when Lisa Beaudoin and I were starting our company, the call came from Scripps,” remembered David Gang, Perfect Sense’s CEO.  “They wanted help for their digital properties on all fronts: product roadmap, strategy, technology, and building up a team.  They have great brands, and we knew that together we could build great products.  That was 7 years ago, and the partnership today is as solid as ever.  We quickly built a reputation with everyone at Scripps that we are 100% dependable and reliable.  That is still our reputation there today.”

Teamwork

Since the partnership formed, Scripps and Perfect Sense have operated together as one team with the same goal in mind: to move Scripps’ business forward.  Said Dria de Botton, Vice President, Emerging Brands, Food.com and CookingChannelTV.com, “PSD helps our team run on all cylinders.  It is such a pleasure working with them; they are such smart, organized, and thoughtful people.  They are 100% dependable and reliable, and what’s more, we have a good time with each other, making it easy to become a collaborative group.”

"We are completely committed and trusted partners to each other. Many teams blend Scripps and PSD employees on the same team, and we operate as one. Our intertwined working relationship is so successful because we have the utmost confidence in each other." Ben London, Senior technical manager Perfect Sense Digital

Kate Condon, Perfect Sense Executive Producer since 2009, laughed as she described often being mistaken for a Scripps employee.  “I am equally a part of both companies,” she explained.  “I spend 95% of my time in Scripps’ offices.  I talk to vendors and advertisers on behalf of Scripps.  I feel like I’m a part of their company, and I care deeply about their business.”

Multi-Faceted Partnership

Ever since 2008, when the Scripps/Perfect Sense Digital partnership began with the relaunch of Food Network, Perfect Sense Digital has provided extensive strategic product leadership for Scripps’ portfolio.  Explained Bob Madden, SVP/GM for the Digital Food Category at Scripps, “Partnership is the word that defines our relationship.  I can count on Perfect Sense for advice on almost any part of our digital business not only because of their expertise but also their commitment to get to know our company, our business, and our people.  Perfect Sense is not just a technology vendor; they support us across the entire business of digital.”

The Scripps/Perfect Sense partnership has produced a host of new site launches and redesigns as well as countless site enhancements, with Perfect Sense Digital playing a large variety of roles and helping with product, strategy, development, design, QA, hosting, and operations.

Through the Years

“It all started in 2008 when Deanna Brown at Scripps needed a little help,” recalled Gang.  “I never imagined that it would grow to what we have today.”  Said Owens, “In the last few years we have very successfully launched several complicated new projects on Brightspot, Perfect Sense’s content management system.  Brightspot is such a positive step forward for us, and I am so excited to see what we can do down the road.”

“We have led product development for their flagship properties such as Food Network, HGTV, and the Travel Channel, and more recently, we have helped new, emerging brands such as ulive.com flourish as vibrant destinations,” London explained.  Additionally, Perfect Sense has created innovative new products for Scripps’ sites, including the Recipe Box for Food Network and Site Optimizer.  Mobile web development for HGTV and Food.com has also been an important push in the last year.

Challenge:

The site was old and stale; it was hard to navigate and find desired content.

Perfect Sense Work:

Perfect Sense provided a much-needed facelift, reworking the navigation and helping to reorganize the content. Perfect Sense also updated the site architecture and taxonomy to help improve SEO performance. Perfect Sense led the effort to significantly increase page views per visit by creating Media Stream, which enabled visitors to seamlessly transition at the end of a photo gallery to related content.

Perfect Sense Digital Role:

Product and content strategy, product development

Key Feature:

Perfect Sense Digital created highly engaging slideshows and video programs to capture visitors, and new advertising opportunities provided HGTV with more revenue possibilities.

Core Properties Redesign: HGTV

Core Properties Redesign: HGTV FrontDoor

Challenge:

FrontDoor’s business strategy changed from being a real estate listing site to becoming an editorially-driven celebrity homes destination, which also included real estate listings, necessitating an entirely new site to reflect the brand and content redirection.

Perfect Sense Work:

Perfect Sense created the design for the new site and did all the development work; FrontDoor is built entirely on Brightspot, Perfect Sense's publishing platfrom. An editorially rich and visually stunning site, FrontDoor features gorgeous photo galleries, celebrities’ digs, and great cities to live, and community features facilitate conversations and sharing. A staff of 15 contributes new content every day.

Perfect Sense Digital Role:

Design, development, product management, operations, QA, hosting

Key Feature:

Perfect Sense Digital created the design and completed the development work in just under 3 months, a very rapid turnaround.

"We were making a major change in our business strategy and needed a new site from the ground up in 90 days. The PSD team hit it so fast; they were great! The Brightspot platform allowed us to do a lot of things that we needed to do but couldn’t have done on our previous platform. The PSD team took personal ownership in the entire project, like they always do, and we hit our 3 month deadline. The site now costs a lot less to run, and we’ve seen a major increase in traffic to the content parts of the site." Rich Lacy, Vice President, Emerging Brands Scripps Networks Interactive

Emerging Brand Launch: Ulive

Challenge:

Scripps’ previous properties were all based on television and print brands, but this was intended as a digital-only brand from the start, an entirely new business. ulive was conceived of as a distribution network as well as a destination site. “We had the opportunity to start with a clean slate and think about the lifestyle content business differently. Perfect Sense Digital brought a lot of great strategic thinking upfront about what the new business could and should be,” said Jeff Meyer, President of ulive.

Perfect Sense Work:

Perfect Sense built out the entire back-end using Brightspot and brought on content, publishing, and advertising partners. The Brightspot platform was configured to allow the incorporation of original ulive programming as well as other Scripps and 3rd party content. Brightspot enables ulive to collect and aggregate data regarding how users consume and interact with videos, which can drive future video strategy and new revenue opportunities across all of Scripps’ digital properties.

Perfect Sense Digital Role:

Strategy, product development, technology development, 3rd party partnerships, site implementation, QA, hosting, and operations

Key Feature:

Perfect Sense Digital developed an interactive video player experience that works on all devices. The capture and logging of time-coded metadata enables a unique viewing experience.

"We needed a platform that offered great value and was very flexible and easy to use. The build time for the site was only a few months from start to finish. Brightspot has been everything it was advertised to be, and we are very happy with it. We can iterate quickly using it, and we can run ulive.com with relatively few internal resources given how large and complex the site is." Jeff Meyer, President Ulive

Innovative Product Development: Recipe Box

Challenge:

The current recipe box on the site had little useful functionality, few features, could not be shared, and did not work on tablets or smartphones.

Perfect Sense Work:

Perfect Sense Digital completely reimagined the experience to build a vibrant and highly functional tool. Built on Brightspot, Perfect Sense created a place for a user to store all her recipes from across Scripps’ digital properties plus any other site from around the web. The Recipe Box was mobile-optimized, so a user could view a shopping list on her smartphone at the grocery store, grouped by aisle to make her shopping even easier.

Perfect Sense Digital Role:

Product strategy and development, technology development, project management, operations support

Key Feature:

Perfect Sense Digital created a tool to enable simple categorization of ingredients into common terms and measurements so that recipes found anywhere on the web could be standardized in the Recipe Box feature.

"In working on our Recipe Box, PSD moved with great speed and agility; the turnaround time was tight and the quality high.  It was a really important, intense project, and PSD pulled it out.  Recipe Box is a great example of PSD’s investment in and commitment to every project." Deb Puchalla, VP, Digital Editorial, FoodNetwork.com, CookingChannelTV.com, and Food.com Scripps Networks Interactive.

Innovative Product Development: Site Optimizer

Challenge:

Before Site Optimizer was developed, Scripps’ process for bundling content to sell to advertisers was manual, labor-intensive, and often inaccurate, wasting large amounts of time and money.

Perfect Sense Digital Work:

Perfect Sense Digital conceived of and built the Site Optimizer tool which aggregated data for related content, enabling the Ad Sales team to bundle similar content for advertisers and accurately serve the contracted amount of page views. By easily seeing the available inventory, the Ad Sales team could adjust their sales targets in real-time, significantly increasing overall ad revenue for Scripps. Additionally, by enabling content data aggregation, Site Optimizer allowed Scripps to quickly answer revenue-impacting business questions designed to improve the content and navigation of the site.

Perfect Sense Digital Role:

Tool conceptualization, design, development, and training of Scripps teams

Key Feature:

The tool enabled Scripps to easily and accurately assign and measure inventory as well as to answer a wide range of questions about programming and site quality.

"Our old platform was a time drain and a lost opportunity. After Site Optimizer was developed, we were able to use significantly less time and fewer resources to carve out and sell custom data blocks. It was a very successful product and a big win for us." Todd Overstreet, Vice President Advertising Operations Scripps Networks Interactive


Mobile Web Development: HGTV and Food.com

Challenge:

The current sites catered to an on-the-go audience but were not mobile-optimized, so a user simply saw the desktop version shrunken to fit a small mobile screen. This less-than-ideal mobile experience limited the way users interacted with the content, and therefore they spent less time on the site.

Perfect Sense Digital Work:

Perfect Sense Digital created completely new mobile-optimized templates that leveraged the same data source as the desktop version, so few back-end changes were required.

Perfect Sense Digital Role:

Product leadership, technology development

Key Feature:

Templates for the home page; video, recipe, topic, and search pages; and photo galleries were all optimized for mobile, resulting in a 3x increase in mobile page views.

"Food.com had a tremendous opportunity to provide an easy-to-navigate, fast, and engaging mobile-optimized product for their growing smartphone audience. PSD product and development teams partnered with Scripps user interface, visual design, development, business, and editorial teams to execute food.com's mobile website. This new product enabled food.com users to easily access and navigate the great recipe content from anywhere on their mobile devices." Kate Condon, Executive Producer Perfect Sense Digital

Conclusion

Said Madden, “I hope to work with PSD for many years to come. Our digital business continues to evolve every day, and I’m sure PSD will be there to help us navigate the waters and build on our success.”  Owens echoed Madden’s sentiments, “The digital landscape moves so quickly.  PSD is a completely trusted resource that brings an invaluable outside business perspective for us.  They have their eye on the ball, and we must have that kind of guidance, advice, and experience to succeed.”

Concluded Gang, “Even after 7 years, when I walk through the door at Scripps’ headquarters, I am excited to see everyone, and I value this relationship as much as I did the first day on the job.  We depend on each other, and together, we have created a lot of great products, with many more to come in the future.”

Download the Scripps Networks Interactive Case Study