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Brands positioned to see sunny days via weather app ads: study

Brands of all stripes will benefit from advertising on weather-related mobile applications, especially those offering related products and services or utility-based functionality, as mobile becomes a critical source of news and weather for consumers, according to research from Millennial Media.

The key for marketers is to align the message and mobile creative with the targeting parameters. An automotive advertiser, for example, can use targeting during winter storms to promote vehicles with all-wheel drive as aligning mobile creative with weather connects brands with audiences during real-time information gathering, the research shows. 

?Checking weather apps is part of many consumers' daily routine,? said Dani Cushion, senior vice president of global marketing and communications for Millennial Media, Baltimore,  MD. ?And significant changes in weather, such as winter storms, prompt consumers to make more frequent app visits. 

?Brands and agencies targeting areas with severe weather can plan campaigns that promote relevant products and services or provide an additional value-add to consumers looking to better plan their day,? she said.
Studying apps
Millennial Media studied weather applications on its mobile ad platform during January and February 2015.

It found that when people want to know about the weather, they turn to mobile. 

Ad for Columbia Records rock band AC-DC on Weather Channel app.

Traffic in weather apps spiked an average of 22 percent when big storms hit, showing that while people might grow weary of experiencing winter weather, they never tire of reading about it. 

February saw 46 percent higher daily traffic in weather apps than January in the United States, as an Arctic blast caused record low temperatures in many cities in the Midwest and Northeast. In contrast, last year, February saw a scant 2 percent more traffic than January.

In another finding, Sundays and Mondays saw the most traffic in weather apps, 10 percent and 17 percent above the daily average, respectively. 

Besides the common impulse to check the weather as one plans one?s week, Mondays got a lift from Winter Storms Juno (January 26), Linus (February 2), Marcus (February 9), and Octavia (February 16), all of which hit the East Coast on the weekend or on Mondays. 

Winter Storm Octavia, which hit during St. Valentine?s Day weekend, saw 91 percent higher than average traffic.

Traffic in weather apps on smartphones over-indexed by 23 percent above Millennial Media?s platform average during January and February. That observation indicated that people need weather information in real time and often smartphones are the most portable, accessible connected device that they own.

Finally, video ads in weather apps see 10 times the engagement of other rich media ad formats. Video ads capture users? attention better than anything else. Severe weather heightens people?s needs for cold weather gear and snowblowers and wants such as vacations to warmer places. Bringing those items to life with video is a great choice for advertisers.

Various brands have recognized the power of weather-related campaigns to personalize pitches and stand out in a crowded marketplace.

For instance, Volvo teamed up with The Weather Channel this past summer to promote its XC60 crossover and reach consumers with its first iPad-application use of branded creative that appeared in the background of content on the channel's iPad app. 

Breakfast menu
Subway once ran a campaign on a Weather Channel app that only took place in the morning to advertise its breakfast menu items. Another campaign on the weather network saw Wendy?s berry frosty products served only served when it was more than 75 degrees out.

Kellogg ad on Weather Channel app.

?Mobile data plays a crucial role in reaching and engaging with consumers,? Ms. Cushion said. ?However, with so much mobile data available, it's important to be able to connect the dots and uncover insights. 

?At Millennial Media, we ingest billions of data points to make mobile simple and make our clients smarter,? she said.

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York