‘Local weather makes for better ad targeting than traditional demographics’

Britons’ obsession with the weather coupled with high levels of smartphone penetration make the UK the perfect environment for weather-based mobile marketing.

Wishful thinking perhaps from The Weather Channel’s Curt Hecht and Ross Webster, the channel’s global chief revenue officer and EMEA managing director respectively but an increasing number of UK brands are concluding they can better target their ad campaigns by focusing on local weather, they claim.

At the beginning of the year Webster stated that the UK was 30 years behind the US in combining marketing and weather. Now, a range of brands are integrating local weather in campaigns, which the duo claim means the UK is catching up with the US by linking the weather and marketing creative.

Sudafed, Google UK, Peugeot and Lemsip have all worked with The Weather Channel to deliver branded content this year. This October, Peugeot used the groups’ ad platform, Branded Backgrounds, for its model 308 campaign. The car marque was displayed on the Weather Channel’s app, that users adapt into their daily routines.

The Branded Backgrounds provide a weather report on a users’ PC or mobile screen, which gives the opportunity for product placement.

Hecht and Webster told Marketing Week about turning the weather into an opportunity.

Marketing Week: Why is it important that brands work more closely with local weather?

Curt Hecht: Weather could unlock a lot of information for marketers that they didn’t have on their own. What we started to dig into was how people feel about the weather and what they want to do, because when it’s cold out or it’s windy out, we started to find interesting information. Marketers will know that if it snows they can sell snow shovels, but it’s about asking if it’s windy can you sell more salad? Or how do you sell more bug spray?

We focused on how we could differentiate The Weather Channel’s relationship with marketers from going in and saying, ‘we could go in and reach a market of 25-40 year-olds’, for example.

What we’re doing is predictive, what we have is 30 years of data, we can start doing regressions on a hyper local level to say based on all this data when these conditions occur people are likely to do these things. It’s about putting the ads before customers before a situation happens so they take action. So really thinking about, marketing locally, marketing before something has taken place and really making it a mission.

It gives the opportunity for CMOs to go to CEOs and not to be the guy that shows losses because of the weather but go in and say they took advantage of the weather to drive sales.

MW: How can subtle weather changes make a difference for brands?

Ross Webster: If a cider company wanted to get optimal coverage of their ad, it would need to be 5 degrees lower in temperature in Glasgow than in London. That’s probably because [Glaswegians] start thinking about cider and BBQs and the outdoors at 20 degrees, whereas in London it’s at 25 degrees, so we have that propensity to tell a beer and cider company to show an ad when consumers impressions are the highest. Don’t waste your impressions. When the correct temperature hits an area we can start advertising and wait for other locations until the weather is right.

With product ranges it may give insight into driving the right product. So, for example porridge, or Quaker’s oats that are a big advertisers with us, they know exactly when to trigger their ads based on particular conditions and as the product gets smarter we get smarter so it evolves, we bring in other data to make it more contextualised.

MW: Is there any difference between the UK and US market when producing weather-based campaigns?

RW: Brits are all obsessed by the weather so that gives us very fertile ground to get this going. Small changes in weather drive behaviour. We’ve mainly worked with people who are affected by the weather like B&Q and Thompson’s. We do a lot of stuff around automotive. We’re taking everything that has proven to work in the US and bringing it here.

Weather conditions in the US are more severe and the UK is mainly different shades of grey. But, when we do report that small change such as a short snowfall our traffic spikes, because people want to know, ‘can I pick my kids up from school?’ and ‘do I have to go to work?’

People need to know about the weather, because they want to make decisions. It’s a planning tool, so therefore we know everyone comes to us because they want to know what to wear, for example. In the US we did a campaign with Pantene, which would tell you which shampoo to use in the morning.

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