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AccuWeather sends up to 5M push notifications per month

AccuWeather's robust push notification program sends up to 5 million severe weather alerts every month. Based on the success of these efforts, the publisher is expanding the program to deliver media-rich content, including ads, adding lifestyle forecasts, and by leveraging location technology.

Between mobile apps and the mobile Web, AccuWeather has 13 million unique mobile users per month in the United States. Push notifications help the publisher efficiently send severe weather alerts to its mobile users within seconds.

?Weather impacts everyone and our users rely on us to help them make their day-to-day and future personal and business plans,? said David Mitchell, director of business development for AccuWeather, State College, PA. ?The push alerts enabled through Urban Airship provide very timely and accurate information that our users value in helping them make decisions about weather?s impact on their plans.

?We send well over 2 million pushes every month through our AccuWeather for Android and AccuWeather for BlackBerry applications,? he said. ?That number spikes as high as 5 million.

?This number will continue to grow when push is enabled in our upcoming update to AccuWeather for iPhone and also when all of our apps are updated to include new lifestyle forecasts.?

Richer, targeted messages
AccuWeather is working on first rolling out push notifications to all of its platforms using Urban Airship?s platform.

Then, as these products are updated, it will begin to implement Rich Push from Urban Airship, which will enable it to send media-rich content that includes a weather map or video with a forecast. AccuWeather will also be able to include an ad in these notifications.

AccuWeather is also testing location targeting so it can extend its severe weather alerts to wherever a user might be, rather than the home location they entered for the app.

Additionally, AccuWeather wants to segment its mobile audience so it can deliver relevant weather data beyond severe weather alerts. The company is calling this lifestyle forecasts, as it will be able to, for example, send a jogger a daily message suggesting the best two-hour window for running that day.

Monetizing mobile
AccuWeather is already a major player in mobile. On one day in mid July, the publisher?s mobile Web site generated 15.125 million ad-supported page views while its mobile apps generated 14 million page views.

Mobile users now outnumber traditional Web users for AccuWeather.

Given this significant audience, AccuWeather is looking for ways to monetize its mobile customer base and push notifications help in this regard.

Push messaging also enables the company to reduce costs. SMS messages, which are billed on a per-message basis, can add up to be quite expensive for a large operation like AccuWeather.

With Urban Airship, even though AccuWeather is signed up for all of its premium services, it is drastically less expensive than SMS, per the publisher.

AccuWeather began delivering SMS-based weather alerts to users several years ago. However, as mobile use has grown, the company was looking for a more efficient way to stay in contact with its mobile users.

The company continues to provide SMS messaging for users of older devices but says this segment is slowly declining.

?There?s the potential to partner with very large device manufacturers to deliver critical, life-saving, property-protecting alerts globally?built into the handset when it comes out of the box,? Mr. Mitchell said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York