How Weather Network Turns Data Into Insight

March 6th, 2018 | ACA Team, Association of Canadian Advertisers

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We’re into the second decade of the smartphone age, and the ubiquity of the devices, our near constant connectivity and the effects on shopping behaviours is well known.

We also know what that has meant to our advertising budgets, with more and more of our spending moving into digital channels.

And yet, according to eMarketer, just 7.3% of our shopping today is done via e-commerce. That number is going up, but only to 10% by 2020. In other words, even though our customers are online almost around the clock most of their shopping is still done offline. That presents most marketers with a challenge: how much of our online spending is affecting offline buying decisions.

That was the focus of the ACA’s most recent members-only webinar “Determining The Value Of Online Advertising In An Offline World” presented by Carrie Lysenko, Head of Digital for The Weather Network and MétéoMédia.

The Weather Network has two unique advantages in turning data into meaningful consumer insights about offline behaviour.

First, there is the tough-to-match database of weather information which, when layered onto sales data, provides invaluable clues about consumer behaviour.

“When snow is in the forecast in the next couple of days, that will cause a rush of people to go out and buy snow shovels,” said Lysenko. That makes sense.

But weather can affect consumers in less obvious ways; it can push them toward some products and away from others. For example, more people shop for cars when it rains, said Lysenko.

Consumer insights derived from weather data gives marketers the chance to advertise proactively rather than reactively to those influential meteorological events.

The second unique advantage enjoyed at the Weather Network is the unusual amount of location-based data.

Because people want to know the weather where they are, and what weather alerts might be important to them, 5.7 million users have enabled location services. “We are all about local, hyper local,” said Lysenko. That anonymized data provides rich detail on demographic segments and consumer journeys.

“When we talk about the consumer journey, that follow-me or location services data that we gather through our mobile app, allows us to identify anonymous device IDs and track paths of users throughout the day that includes shopping, commuting, work and travel,” she said.
Being able to follow that journey makes it more possible to track the offline effects of ads delivered online.

“We are using this big data in a really focused way,” she said. It is the right advertising to the right user at the right time, but it is also knowing if that targeted messaging resulted in an offline customer reaction.

“Depending on an advertiser’s creative and where they are displaying it on our network, we can identify… a group of consumers who saw the ad and did they act on it and go into a location, or destination.”

Working with third-party data, Weather Network can identify key consumer segments based on retail preferences and demographics in categories like car intenders, travellers, gym goers, parents of young children and fashionistas—the focus of the case study Lysenko presented.

The retail advertiser client wanted to drive repeat visits to its stores by targeting fashionistas (the right target) with a discount coupon and video about new winter trends (the right message). By knowing how weather had historically affected sales, they could target consumers with creative designed to match triggering weather events—in this case, snow and -12 degrees (the right time).

The campaign ran last February across Weather Network platforms and delivered:

  • 3 million impressions;
  • 1.45% click-through rate;
  • 6.4 million TV audience reach; and
  • 3.7 million social impression.

The final piece was the Weather Network’s ability to measure visits, dwell time and lift. The results were truly impressive:

  • 18,000 unique store visits;
  • An increase of $2.72 cost per retail visit;
  • 19 minutes average visit in store;
  • 5.63% conversion rate; and
  • 2.28% lift in overall retail sales.

“The retail outlet was thrilled with the outcome and lift in sales,” said Lysenko.

And while the Weather Network is already turning its big data into useful—and actionable—consumer insights for its marketing partners, the company is working on other ways to gauge advertising effectiveness, including outdoor and television.