Weather, Made to Order

“Who knew you could relate so many things to the weather?”

That was a colleague’s reaction just after our reps from Weather.com finished a media presentation. It had been a while since any of us had spoken with the property. A lot had changed, beginning with the release of new offerings and case studies that had the media-planning portion of our minds working overtime.

If you think meteorology sites such as this one are only of use to buyers promoting allergy products and cold remedies, you’re due for an update as well. Weather.com is as much a lifestyle network as it is a place to obtain weather forecasts and generate engaging content that’s relevant to advertisers from an assortment of industries and verticals.

In addition to sections you’d expect to find — weather news, travel, and driving — the site features such quirky tools as a Dog Walking Calculator that lets you determine how many calories you burn exercising your pet. The Home & Garden section offers advice on how to deal with mold in your home as a result of high humidity, while the Aches & Pains Forecast alerts site visitors to the ways in which the weather can affect arthritis and migraine headaches.

Sponsorship and branded content opportunities exist throughout the site, of course, and buyers can drill down by section depending on the degree to which they wish to segment the 32 million unique monthly visitors. The site also offers home page roadblocks, behavioral targeting, daypart and timeframe targeting, sponsored videos, a desktop application, and mobile marketing opportunities.

What’s more intriguing, though, is the property’s ability to deliver and customize ads based on the weather itself. Fellow columnist Hollis Thomases recently cited what Weather.com calls its ADapter technology. Here’s a more in-depth explanation of how it works.

Like the site’s weather-triggered targeting, ADapter uses the Zip Code or city name a user enters to search for local weather information to trigger ad delivery. Media buyers can have ads delivered based on weather conditions, such as sunny, rain, snow, humidity, UV, and temperature; the user’s city name; even the exact time and date.

But ADapter goes a step further. Because the technology knows the temperature and weather conditions in the user’s location, ads served can pull that information directly into a banner. The advertiser only has to supply a single piece of creative. Instead of delivering the same standard banner to weather-targeted users, advertisers can ensure their ads are contextually relevant.

When Dunkin’ Donuts wanted to promote its new iced coffee drink, for example, ADapter allowed the company to deliver banners only to site users experiencing temperatures above 80 degrees — the perfect time to indulge in a refreshing treat. Depending on the user’s location and the exact temperature, the ad would populate with copy that read, “It’s 83° in Atlanta. You’ve GOT to try our Iced Mocha Latte.”

Bahamas Tourism wanted to do just the opposite: target users experiencing cold temperatures. Its banners were customized to display the current conditions in the user’s frosty location alongside the comparably balmy Bahamas conditions. Can you imagine a more compelling argument to book a tropical vacation?

Because Adapter can target by user location, numerous additional options for utilizing the technology (and potential benefits) exist. Automotive advertisers can target by Zip Code and display a list of local dealerships sourced from their Web sites in the banner to build brand affinity and drive store visits. Consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies can deliver warm-weather recipes to consumers who are experiencing a heat wave or regional promotions to consumers based on where they live to encourage brand interaction and promote sales. And travel sites can offer specials specific to each user’s location to deliver added value. As with contextual advertising, the results of the technology’s use stand to benefit not only the advertiser, but the consumer as well.

“Who knew you could relate so many things to the weather?” With so many options at our disposal, I’m inclined to echo my colleague’s sentiment.

If only the weather itself were as accommodating as the ad technology offered by Weather.com.

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