Wunderground Challenges Weather.com With Relaunch

When it comes to getting weather information online, most people want to get in and out as quickly as possible. That’s one reason that Weather.com, with its simple URL and association with The Weather Channel, is the undisputed leader in weather sites. In December 2010, Weather.com attracted 44 million unique visitors in the U.S., placing it among the top 25 Web destinations overall, according to comScore.

But Wunderground, an also-ran weather site with roots in the University of Michigan’s Internet Weather Database, believes there is an audience to be found in appealing to those who have more than a fleeting interest in weather, too. On February 2nd, the site will unveil a relaunch that focuses on providing simple information quickly, plus deeper, more involved weather content for serious hobbyists. The new site will also include a host of new options for advertisers.

“Our focus is on providing best science and best weather data, period,” said Richard Lowden, VP of sales at Wunderground. “We believe that as we make the best weather data available to users that people will flock to our site,” particularly the “hardcore weather enthusiasts.”

The site received 14 million uniques in the U.S. in December 2010, up from about 10 million in November, according to comScore. That jump placed it among the top-10 gaining properties by percent change for the month. Lowden said the site also boasts about 5 million international users.

For the relaunch, Wunderground tore apart the site’s entire information architecture and started from scratch. The new site features much more white space, and all local weather information can be found on a single long page. “I don’t want to have to click through a bunch of different pages to get to what I want,” said Lowden. Local weather can be exported live to a user’s desktop via widgets called “weather stickers.”

The site also hosts galleries where users can upload their weather pictures, and a trip-planning tool that pairs Google Maps with its own weather information to show weather conditions at every point along a person’s route.

On the advertising side, Wunderground has partnered with Dapper, an ad technology firm acquired by Yahoo in 2010, to allow clients to feature products in display ads based on current weather conditions. For example, when temperatures dip unexpectedly in Miami, a retail advertiser’s unit could automatically feature cold-weather clothes.

Wunderground has also partnered with Nielsen Claritas and Quantcast to provide more granular targeting capabilities for advertisers based on demographics, behavior and geography.

To enhance its search performance, Wunderground has struck deals to provide weather information to the Associated Press and other branded content sites. Those partnerships export Wunderground’s brand and creates valuable trackbacks.

Wunderground doesn’t yet offer video advertising, said Lowden, but is hoping to shortly. The site maintains a 12-person direct-sales team.

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