Haven Finds Its ‘Home’ on Web

A former Scripps digital sales executive who sold for such properties as HGTV.com has quietly built the largest home improvement property on the Web.

The year-plus old Haven Home Media, which aggregates inventory from 45 publishers of home and garden content, reached close to 10 million unique users in February, per comScore, easily topping eHow Home and Garden (6.1 million uniques), iVillage Home and Garden (5.2 million) and HGTV.com (4.4 million). That growth has attracted brands such as Home Depot—as well as Lowe’s and Lumber Liquidators—both of which signed on the first time for campaigns that kick off this spring.

Haven Home is a mix of sites tied to syndicated home improvement series from traditional media, such as PBS’ Hometime.com and the radio show The Money Pit, along with a growing number of independent blogs focused on this category, including Young House Love, which chronicles a married couple’s home renovation project.

According to founder and CEO Dan Meehan—who sold for Scripps Networks in 2007 and 2008—until recently, the online ad industry had been slow to recognize the audience growth and fragmentation in this formerly sleepy category. “I think what you are seeing is that agencies have been looking for new ways to reach this audience that was largely ignored, and they are finding that this was an untapped audience,” he said. “We are kind of lagging category.”

Going forward, Meehan predicts that online advertising in the home and garden space will net out “well north of $100 million” in 2010. While he declined to provide specific revenue figures, he said that last year Haven Home Media’s ad revenue doubled nearly every quarter, and in 2010, spending has surged by 500 percent.

By the end of this year, he expects that the network will ad roughly 10 new sites (resulting in roughly 20 percent more users) as more and more Americans are drawn to caring for their homes. “This has been a rough housing marketing, and a tough macro economic environment overall,” he said. “But that’s lead more people to put more time into bettering their homes. And major ad spenders are starting to recognize that.”