Toyota has signed on as the sponsor of a re-launched Weather.com, coming July 15 with a renewed emphasis on pinpoint forecasts of any address or landmark in the country. Forget about your Los Angeles neighborhood -- is there any rain expected at Dodger Stadium tonight?
Toyota will use the hoopla around the refashioned site to plug its Prius hybrid, with home page sponsorship on launch day and other extensions. The automaker is also backing a current preview of the new look and capabilities that can be viewed via a link on the site. It offers a more subtle plug for the Prius.
A presentation of the new site includes a time line covering memorable world events since Weather.com's launch in 1995 -- along with a deadly heat wave killing 600 in the Midwest in 1995 and Barack Obama's barrier-breaking inauguration in 2009.
In a video clip, Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore says of 2000: "Toyota was innovating too, releasing the first-generation of its hybrid-electric Prius in the U.S." A straight-out-of-the-catalog photo of the car appears. The 15-year-old Weather.com also uses the timeline to plug some of its milestones, such as 1999, when site visitors topped 5 million.
A Weather representative said that with Toyota as a sponsor, "it certainly wanted to tie" in the Prius launch 10 years ago, which was "a big technology advancement."
The new site will feature an enlarged weather news menu in the upper left, with an opportunity to watch related videos about storms, the impact of oily beaches on weekend plans, etc.
There is also heightened branding for proprietary TruPoint technology that provides the "exact weather" for any U.S. locale, down to a one-square-mile area. Weather.com currently uses it, but the new home page will emphasize it.
"My Saved Locations" permits increased customization, allowing a user to view forecasts for three chosen areas automatically at the top of the homepage. Plus, there is a more prominent home page button for iWitness Weather, where users can upload videos the channel may use on-air. Weather says the average monthly unique users for its site total about 40 million.