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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

The benefits of bringing maps and weather data into your video content

March 13, 2023 | By Jim Politis, Max Velocity Product Manager – The Weather Company, an IBM Business @jimpolitiswx

Sometimes the weather is the story. However, weather also impacts many of the stories journalists tell –  from sports events to celebrity weddings, groundbreaking ceremonies, and more. Maps and weather data can be powerful tools to create more memorable and impactful videos. Digital publications and platforms can leverage these elements to illustrate location, specify routes, and provide predictions regarding the potential impact of current and upcoming weather to create more engaging content.

There are many benefits of incorporating maps and weather data into video content, and all it takes is adding this capability to the existing software stack. Let’s take a look.

Why maps and weather enhance storytelling 

When it comes to video content, it’s important to have tools that make it easy to enhance coverage of breaking news quickly. Maps can make it easier to visualize stories, such as election news and big-city races. Creating custom maps for breaking stories helps your viewers feel like they are involved rather than just passively watching. As a result, digital publications can increase engagement and viewer loyalty. 

They can even provide coverage on a street level, which helps personalize a reporter’s video stories. By offering street-level viewing, your publication can go beyond generic maps. This personalization adds a level of depth to your storytelling that many other publications lack, making your stories unique and compelling for your viewers. 

Additionally, weather data can be used to provide further context and insights to stories of all kinds. Companies can use weather to illustrate the role wind may have on a football game or how the path of a storm might affect an outdoor event. Since weather impacts almost every decision, this content has immense value for audiences.

5 ways map and weather content improves video storytelling

By bringing maps and weather data into video stories, journalists, reporters and content developers can provide more comprehensive, engaging videos. Here are just a few of the ways that maps and weather data can improve your digital video content:

  1. Generate maps for specific stories.
    Maps can be generated for specific stories with the right tool. They can be customized to support the story with stunning visuals.

    For example: Local digital publishers may choose to cover a 5K race or marathon. Incorporating maps into the story would allow teams to graphically showcase the route, and bring in “guests” at certain points along the map.
  1. Illustrate the impact of weather on the story.
    In the case of a big event such as the Boston Marathon or New York City Marathon, publications might include commentary from elite athletes. Since weather can influence the outcome of races, content creators could showcase the impact of tailwind and humidity and include commentary and predictions about how the weather conditions will impact the race.

    Weather was a major factor in the Ineos 1:59 Challenge, in which Eliud Kipoge broke the 2:00 marathon. Kipoge noted that “One of the biggest factors in running a fast marathon is the weather – temperature, humidity, precipitation, wind speed and direction will all have a significant impact, even the air pressure has some effect.” The addition of this unique perspective on how the weather impacts potential outcomes – and makes reporting more engaging.  
  2. Display live conditions. 
    Content producers can illustrate the impact of weather on all sorts of current events such as outdoor sports games, state fairs or festivals, graduation ceremonies, holiday community events, and more. (For example, check out this bike race coverage.
  3. Bring stories to life with guests & visuals.
    Display the impact of weather for upcoming event stories and bring in local meteorologists as expert guests. With weather graphics, teams can discuss the impact a hurricane will have on a community or how snow will affect the morning commute.
  4. Drive revenue with weather-related ads.
    In addition to providing context and engaging more viewers, this form of storytelling can also be used with sponsors to drive revenue. For example, an owner of a tire company can sponsor the video and provide tips on what type of snow tires are best to buy when winter weather is approaching. Local advertisers – such as hardware stores during BBQ season or local caterers during graduation stories – will also find that the weather tie-in makes their advertising more relevant.

Real-life examples of combining weather data and map overlays

Wondering how to combine weather data and map overlays in videos? Here are a few use cases:

  1. Election coverage
    Election coverage always draws a large number of viewers. It risks falling flat however, if high-quality graphics are not incorporated. With the right tools, journalists can enhance their election coverage by showing counties graphically. Digital publications and channels can bring reporters in at different polling locations, providing on-the-ground coverage for a more comprehensive and detailed viewing experience.
  2. Marathon, parade, or other coverage of big events
    Marathons and races cover a large area, which can be difficult when there are only a few available team members. With advanced video tools, however, teams can use a distributed workforce, which allows reporters to create, publish, and live stream content at any time from any location along the race route. The same goes for parades or any events that would be enhanced by maps and weather data. 
  3. Telethon coverage
    The right video tools allow team members and sponsors to create and publish videos without requiring them to use specialized skills, complicated hardware, or expensive equipment. As a result, publications of any size can have the ability to host telethons or fundraising events. With the right tool, guests can easily participate from a remote location. Maps can then be used to showcase which areas have contributed the most and to set goals across a specific demographic.

Final Thoughts

Scaling video production with maps and weather can make videos more engaging since these provide more context to the stories already being told. They can also help audiences understand the scale of a story, or make it more personal through localization. By combining live map and weather data, digital publications and channels can provide real-time, up-to-the-minute coverage to viewers, with all the insights, credibility, and professionalism consumers expect. 

About the Author

Jim Politis is part of the Max Weather solutions product management team at The Weather Company, where he focuses on Max Velocity, Max Engage, and Max Social. He was first part of the Max Quality Assurance team, and over the last decade at The Weather Company, Jim has been involved with nearly every product within the Max ecosystem. Prior to joining The Weather Company, Jim served as a broadcast meteorologist in Iowa, where he experienced many extreme weather events, from blizzards to record floods to tornadoes. One thing Jim appreciates about working at The Weather Company is that he no longer needs to present important information while hearing a tornado siren through the building walls! He has a bachelor of science degree in meteorology and an associate’s degree in computer science from Northern Vermont University-Lyndon.

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