The Weather Channel Plays the Data Game

October 23, 2013

Last autumn the Weather Channel officially became the Weather Company, signaling the start of a major rebranding effort. The meteorological media firm didn’t pull the plug on its long-standing TV station, though. Instead, the change reflects the Weather Company’s new position as a data and analytics outfit concerned with all things weather. Over the course of 75 years the Atlanta-based company has amassed huge amounts of atmospheric information concerning dew points and cloud cover percentages. All this data combined with smartphone location tracking has made the Weather Company invaluable to businesses looking to reach consumers through targeted ads.

By observing when people check the weather, company analysts have discovered the best times to advertise certain products. For instance, people in Dallas tend to purchase bug spray when the dew point is below average. In Boston, however, bug spray sales increase as the dew point rises. This information allows the Weather Company to design algorithms that cause ads to appear only if weather conditions in a user’s area are optimal for that product. Pantene recently hired the company to advertise an anti-frizzing shampoo that appears on Weather.com or the company’s app on humid days. The ad even features a coupon code and directions to the nearest drug store.

Although the Weather Company has long sold forecasts to retailers, airlines and energy traders, the emergence of the mobile market presents it with a unique opportunity. Not only does the firm have loads of data to work with, it also possesses the analytical knowhow to reach unexpected but effective conclusions. Last year the crafting chain Michaels approached the company about advertising on rainy days. After crunching the numbers, though, the Weather Company suggested that the retailer display ads whenever the forecast called for rain in three days. That way people can plan their crafting projects before the bad weather hits and they elect to remain housebound. In the words of Michaels’ chief marketing officer: “It helps transform something from being an advertisement to being advice.”

 

Questions:

  1. What has been one of the most significant marketing shifts in advertising?
  1. How does Weather Company research assist companies with their advertising?

 

Sources: Katherine Rosman, “Shopping Up a Storm,” The Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2013. Photo courtesy of The Weather Channel.

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