Weather Channel turns Big Data into Real-Time Marketing


There are few marketers today who aren’t aware of the power of Big Data and its potential to revolutionize the way brands interact with consumers; but with much of the dialogue taking place in the abstract, it’s helpful when we can point to innovative real-world examples of how companies are putting the concept into practice.

Enter The Weather Co. – parent of The Weather Channel – which is drawing on its massive stores of data and its vast network of meteorological facilities to reshape itself into a next-generation marketing powerhouse.

As reported last week by The Wall Street Journal, The Weather Co. – which changed its name last fall to reflect its new focus on analytics –  has amassed 75 years of climate data and is using it to advise marketers on how to time their pitches to their target audiences. The company uses location-based technology combined with real-time weather data to drive relevant advertising to areas as small as a single ZIP code, the paper reports.

So, for instance, if you happen to be in the business of selling bug spray, The Weather Co. knows that the best time to advertise your product in Dallas is when there is a below-average dew point.  Air conditioners sell best in Chicago the day after the start of a heat wave; Atlantans, however, tend to tough it out a few days before breaking down and shelling out the cash to stay cool.

As Paul Walsh, the company’s vice president for weather analytics, puts it: “The old paradigm of business and weather was cope and avoid. With technology, the paradigm is now anticipate and exploit.”

The Weather Co. is now taking its analytics research to the next level by gauging how climate affects mood, and how that relates to buying behavior.  But the company is not the only one spearheading a drive into real-time marketing; it’s not even the only one using weather data to fuel the push. Planalytics, a Pennsylvania company that has been helping businesses understand and optimize the impact of weather on their sales since 1990, is leveraging its background in analytics to power real-time marketing decisions with its recently launched WeatherSmart Marketing platform.

The product supports the development of localized, weather-relevant advertising content for a variety of digital advertising platforms by providing market specific, rolling 14-day forecasts for specific product or service categories.  Planalytics recently partnered with Brand Networks to integrate WeatherSmart into the BN Social Marketing Stack to provide businesses with a complete platform for delivering targeted, hyper relevant advertising.

In a report released earlier this year, eMarketer found that more companies than ever are tapping analytics to drive on-the-fly marketing decisions, and cited survey data that suggests 53% of brands plan to increase investment this year in applicable platforms and technologies. As these investments grow, we can expect to see greater demand for technologies designed to decipher the many variables that affect consumer purchasing behavior in an effort to drive real-time marketing decisions.  As they say, when it rains, it pours.

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