IQ News: Open Sesame - CTW Unveils Ad-Supported Site

Children’s Television Workshop enters the next phase of its digital existence this week with an ad-supported relaunch of its site. The new venue brings together characters such as Elmo with charter advertisers including Ford, Kellogg Co., eToys, SuperMarkets Online and the Encyclopedia Britannica Internet Guide eBlast. The site, dubbed CTW Family Workshop, is being viewed as a way for the not-for-profit organization to generate revenue, akin to the way CTW runs its custom-publishing magazine operation. It is targeted to both parents and children.
Originally launched in the spring of 1997, has been headed by group vice president and general manager Tina Sharkey since last summer. “The Workshop started with television,” she said. “This is the next frontier, and we’re seeing it come full circle.” Later this fall, CTW Online will announce a deal to bring its programming to homes via a deal with one of the major set-top-box providers. Last June the site signed its first large-scale distribution deal with Excite and WebCrawler.
“Being not-for-profit doesn’t mean you’re not for revenue, but the income we make goes back to research and development,” Sharkey stated. As the organization’s newest major media property, the Web efforts are being handled by CTW’s publishing group because of its relationship with advertisers. Some of the Web advertisers, including Ford and Kellogg Co., have sponsored custom-published editions of CTW magazines Sesame Street and Sesame Street Parents.
Those two advertisers have also made the largest advertising commitments to the site, in sponsorships, banners, activities and games. Ford is sponsoring a Safe Cruising auto safety campaign and is co-sponsoring sections such as Parents’ Toolbox, a database of advice for parents. Ford has also developed an online safety game for kids called Buckle Up, Teddy, which stars Elmo. Kellogg Co. co-sponsors Let’s Celebrate Today and has created an area called Delicious Fun where parents can talk about nutrition, and kids can play a game called Food Art where they learn about different foods as they make collages with them.
New to the site is a Tickle Me Elmo pop-up window that beckons viewers to tickle the Muppet with the computer mouse. There is also a Make-a-Story section where kids can choose characters and a storyline to create their own books. A Sesame Street Post Office lets kids send and receive email from the Muppets.
Sharkey stressed that the CTW site’s focus is “collaborative family edutainment.”