Future tool: Weatherbug

The Weatherbug ( is a free program that can be downloaded to PCs (no Macs for now), courtesy of Automated Weather Source Convergence Technologies (AWS). From your Windows Desktop, the program delivers local weather data for almost any U.S. location, which is chosen by the user by entering a zip code as part of a registration process. Some 500,000 have registered so far, and sign-up rates are climbing, reports Andy Jedynak, AWS vice president. Data is generated from more than 4,500 locations, with automated measuring hardware installed mostly at schools. Weatherbug offers real-time, constantly updated, local weather data over the Internet.

When you’re online, just click on the Weatherbug icon to launch the electric blue display, which will cover about 80 percent of your screen. You’ll get current temperature, a barometric reading, wind speed and direction, rain amounts, and a half-dozen other results, all updated every second. When you’re done, the ‘bug minimizes down to the toolbar at the bottom of the screen.

Launched in April 2000, Weatherbug is supported by revolving, active banner ads across the top and/or bottom of the weather data display. Available in two sizes, 468 x 60 and 120 x 60, ads cover about 30 percent of the tool’s visual field. CPMs run $24-$42.

LeAnne Rozner, media-buying supervisor at online agency Exile on Seventh, has considerable experience in the online weather market. “AWS’s personalized registration may give them an edge on the competition,” she notes. Registration includes personal questions, including income level, which “in theory should predispose users to consider targeted ads within the device.”

Jedynak is predictably upbeat about ad support for the Weatherbug, even though its first wave of banner ads is remnant inventory. “We’re just getting up and running in terms of selling ads directly,” he says, adding that recent support for the Weatherbug includes some blue-chip national accounts, along with smaller pure-play dot-coms and regional campaigns.

Brian Monahan, an online media buyer/consultant at San Francisco’s Inrhythm Marketing, wonders about ad effectiveness for the ‘bug. “They might grab the attention of traveling business people, but my experience with weather sites is that users are so task-oriented they pay no attention to ads.”

Certainly, there are obstacles for prospective advertisers. Firstly, how to get the Weatherbug out to desirable demographics? AWS is affiliated with TV broadcasters around the country, which run spots for the ‘bug. There is also an ad that runs at the parent site, “Loyalty (to the tool) will spread by association with established TV brands,” Jedynak says. One can send the ‘bug to an online friend by clicking on a tile within the display. Secondly, one cannot ultimately know who’s clicking on the ‘bug; children may find it appealing, too.

Jedynak believes that once the registration base grows to seven or perhaps even eight figures, advertisers will be eager to test the device. “Through the registration data, we can target people as tightly as possible. If you want 18-34, $50,000-plus, living on the West Coast, we can do that.”

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