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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

New Weather Company Resource Forecasts a Marketing Opportunity

October 28, 2014 | By Michelle Manafy, Editorial Director – DCN @michellemanafy
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Today’s digital marketers must be adept at search strategy, social strategy and now it seems they’ll be needing a weather strategy as well. Increasingly, companies of all types are leveraging data to aid in planning and decision making; The Weather Company has been at the forefront of leveraging data and analytics not only to predict the weather, but to anticipate its impact on consumer behavior. This week, Weather launched a blog called Forecast Factor to help marketers better understand how to use the weather as a business advantage.

The Forecast Factor site will provide weather-based consumer forecasts, proprietary insights and real-world best practices to help marketers implement and execute weather-centric media strategies to best promote their products and services. Forecasts and weather impact analysis will be provided by The Weather Channel’s on-air business and weather professional Paul Walsh, a leading expert on the effect of weather–and weather forecasting–on consumer behavior. Walsh, who considers himself an evangelist for the topic, got his start as a meteorologist in the US Air Force where his role was to provide weather-based intelligence support to war fighters and mission planners. While in the Air Force he developed a keen eye for the strategic value of weather information.

It’s big news how much the weather is changing. For marketers, Walsh says this increased weather volatility represents a risk, but it also represents an opportunity. For example, the Polar Vortex in late 2013 and early 2014 initially caused a 2% contraction in the US economy however, as soon as the weather improved, the economy rebounded. The opportunity, says Walsh, is to leverage technological advancements such as big data to understand the impact weather has on consumers.

Not only has the weather changed, but the way in which people consume weather information has also radically shifted. Gone are the days when people watched the evening news for an iffy forecast. Walsh notes that today weather predictions are overwhelmingly reliable but even more significantly, people are connected to the weather more than ever before. According to Walsh most of us check it multiple times a day on our mobile devices and use the information to plan not only whether or not to wear a jacket, but a wide range of decisions such as where to make lunch plans and what to eat, whether or not it is time to buy a new car and whether or not it should be an SUV or a convertible. The effect of weather on retail and spending is greater than people realize, says Walsh who points out that research shows that the impact of weather on the economy every year totals in the billions.

Weather believes that by providing Forecast Factor content they can educate advertisers to proactively adjust their media plans to align with the expected impact of the weather and to execute strategies that are more relevant and effective. “The marketing community has looked at weather as a tactical tool,” says Walsh “We really look at it as a strategic tool and want to help them see it that way as well.” And, as a trusted provider of this useful information, Weather hopes that these same advertisers and marketers will turn to their WeatherFX team to produce campaigns that can leverage these insights with weather-triggered messages to consumers in real time across all screens.

“People consume weather information everyday but they don’t think about the weather the way we do, Walsh says. “We’re pretty confident that we’ve got the audience, reach and technology to do what we’re talking about. There’s lots of people out there that don’t have the same knowledge or understanding.”

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