How Weather Helps Search Marketers Target Ads

by , Mar 21, 2012, 1:36 PM
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Weather-Channel-AppWhile talking with Suzy Sandberg, president at digital marketing firm PM Digital, around the holidays last year about optimizing paid-search campaigns, she spoke about using the weather to determine product and target strategies around the time of day to target ads. I heard a similar story from David Kenny, chairman and CEO at The Weather Channel, during Tuesday's keynote at OMMA Global in San Francisco.

Kenny described to conference attendees how several retail stores use the data to build statistical models to determine what should go on sale for the weekend based on the weather.

Science and weather data -- either local or national -- can provide better real-time display targeting and paid-search options for advertisers. The Weather Channel sells weather-related data to advertisers, agencies and media companies to model, analyze and target consumers based on weather-related data. It's not clear whether the data is used for targeting display and/or search ads.

The weather is not just about data. It's conversational, and it points to a lifestyle. It determines whether people spend time with the movies or at the beach. In social networks, brands also can connect weather -- the most talked-about topic -- to their products. "Increasingly, we'll sell data like we sell advertising," Kenny said.

Mobile will continue to drive growth for The Weather Channel, Kenny said, estimating about 200 tweets about the weather per minute. People want to talk about the weather, but not only in tweets. Irregular weather patterns will create more fluctuations in temperatures. In the future, the channel could leverage more video from citizen journalists, he said.

Kenny pioneered the digital ad agency scene -- Digitas and Vivaki -- but also spent time at Akamai, and in my opinion, clearly understands the power of technology for online advertising. At a previous OMMA Global about a year and a half ago, he said the transmission speed of the Internet backbone in about 10 years would be about 4 petabytes per second -- enough to transmit all media over the Internet, depending on the number of devices people use simultaneously to access personal content.

The biggest future problem for publishers and search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo will be the inability to find content "serendipitously" -- a word Kenny used to describe something similar. "We all have a role in programming to help people find new things," Kenny said.

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