For brands and agencies who have not yet taken advantage of big weather data as a way to enhance their advertising strategies, this might seem like an alien concept.
However, when you consider the UK’s preoccupation with weather it actually makes perfect sense. Indeed, research we undertook with global media agency Starcom MediaVest Group in 2012 found that in the UK, 16.5 million of us regularly talk about the weather, equating to a staggering 282 conversations a second.
At The Weather Channel, we have been aware of the value of big weather data to the business community for some time.
Thousands of organisations globally rely on our examination of the four terabytes of data we produce each day to provide weather forecasts and weather-based data analytics. These can advise on anything from whether an airline should cancel flights or create an accurate energy yield for a wind farm.
In an advertising context, our data is equally valuable and the beauty of it is the ability it brings to make informed decisions – it is central to successful targeted advertising. Weather data is as good a predictor of intent as search and, when harnessed correctly, it can signal to advertisers exactly what messaging will resonate and when.
Such "big data" is driving an explosion in mobile advertising, helped significantly by advances in smartphone technology; advances in location data in particular are transforming the mobile advertising industry. Adding real-time weather data to this brings the ability to deliver hyper-local, highly personal, targeted advertising. It represents a huge evolution in the ad market, particularly as people have their mobile phones with them most of the time.
The Weather Channel has executed successful ad campaigns utilising big weather data many times, and on each occasion, whether this is through our work with Continental – advertising its deep-tread tyres which appeared during heavy snow – or triggering ads for Costa’s Ice Menu when the temperature hit 22 degrees, the sophistication possible in terms of geographic and demographic relevance has proved to be an extremely useful proposition.
We are constantly improving our models and products to drive the possibilities even further and the launch of WeatherFX, our weather intelligent marketing platform, in partnership with Starcom in 2013 was a significant milestone for us. But to truly help the industry take mobile advertising to the next level, it’s not just about the data; it's how the consumer receives it that’s imperative to success.
Our business development and design teams work closely with our partners to ensure that the creative we deliver not only delivers in a timely fashion, but presents consumers with beautiful images that command pleasurable rather than intrusive experiences.
A great example of this is our partnership with NBC Universal to deliver the 'Despicable Me 2' (DM2) campaign. This took full ownership of our mobile apps screens and the creative mirrored the humorous appeal of DM2’s popular Minion characters, giving them a new identity as ‘Weather Minions’.
The film’s creative was then integrated with data to allow the Weather Minions to "own" the weather being experienced by each individual user. The local weather data, or ‘NOW’ forecast, which geo-locates the app user and displays the appropriate weather information for their location, triggered Weather Minion backgrounds. The Weather Minion images then changed to represent the weather condition each individual user was experiencing.
With DM2 our campaign also had element of surprise. The execution was a unique staggered delivery of new Weather Minion creative across a six-week period, when the new Weather Minions appeared sporadically during the six weeks, consumers were excited, amused and encouraged to respond positively to the campaign call to action.
Through the implementation and results of the DM2 campaign, we created a new model for mobile marketing that understands the consumers mindset when in the mobile space and exploits it to get the best ROI for its clients.
Today we have only reached the tip of the iceberg in terms of how weather data can be exploited for the benefit of brands.
With the data available and advances in technology enabling its integration par for the course, I believe it’s only a matter of time before weather-related campaigns are recognised as integral elements of any targeted advertising campaign.
More from the Met Office on weather as an advertising category here.
Ross Webster is managing director EMEA, The Weather Channel