Weather.com Buy to Boost NBC’s Local Ad Business

NBC Universal’s joint acquisition of The Weather Channel properties in conjunction with Bain Capital and The Blackstone Group will result in a stronger local online business for NBC. In addition to the dominant cable television network, The Weather Channel’s properties include its well-trafficked weather.com site and mobile offerings.

Execs involved with the acquisition indicated the deal will extend cross-channel offerings of both firms. While NBC has invested quite a bit in its interactive properties, notably its premium video site and distribution network Hulu, it seems to have been less dedicated to local online media.

The presence and ad targeting capabilities of Weather.com could help NBC generate more local online ad dollars, or enable the firm to provide local reach for national advertisers.

The deal clearly allows NBC to push its local and national news content out to the millions of Web users visiting Weather.com each month. According to comScore, the meteorology site ranked in 15th place among the top 50 U.S. Web properties in May, garnering around 36.4 million unique visitors. In February, the site was visited by about 17 percent of U.S. Web users, according to the online measurement firm.

Visitors to Weather.com are accustomed to spotting localized ads, such as display units from insurance firms featuring contact information for an agent based nearby.

Because users submit information on their location to determine local temperatures and forecasts, the site can target ads according to where users most likely reside or plan to be in the near future. So, rather than using only IP addresses which can be unreliable in determining a user’s location, the site can target ads based on zip code, city, DMA or state. Additionally, travel advertisers can target ads to people living in one DMA but viewing weather information in a different location.

“Local has been a great revenue driver for Weather.com,” suggested Peter Krasilovsky, Kelsey Group’s program director of marketplaces.

There is also potential for local mobile offerings as the companies begin working together. Weather.com offers mobile content sponsorships, site buyouts, and ads targeted based on geography or triggered by weather events.

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