Making Weather Work for Advertisers

Network pitches new ad-serving technology

The Weather Channel wants
to get viewers to tune in longer
and form deeper relationships
with advertisers. “This is a year of transformation
for us,” says David Clark, who
joined the company as president just after
Superstorm Sandy hit last October.

The Weather Co. was an early mover
in digital, with a category-leading website
and mobile app. But its cable channel
has been hampered by the perception
that viewers tune in, get a forecast and
then move on. “We need to play to our
strengths as a TV network and return to
being insanely great at the weather,” says
Clark, adding that there are aspects of the
weather that an app simply can’t capture.

During the upfront, Weather Channel
will be demonstrating its commitment to
local forecasts. “That’s in the DNA of the
network,” Clark says. “We’re sort of unique
in that we have this local content delivery
system. But we’re making a number
of investments in that and enhancing our
capabilities fairly dramatically.”

The channel wants marketers to take
advantage of that unique infrastructure,
designed to adjust programming and advertising
to weather changes. It’s being
upgraded to better help advertisers serve
the right ad at the right time. “We’re the
only people that do that. And marketers
are really responding to it,” Clark says.

At the same time, the channel will
more strongly encourage marketers to
integrate their products into live and
primetime programming. “Advertisers
are going to see much more holistic opportunities,”
Clark adds.

Like cable channels in a variety of
genres, Weather Channel will be talking
about increasing its original programming
in primetime. It plans to launch
20 new series, up from eight this year,
doubling its hours of original programming
to 120-125.

Clark says the channel is focusing on
two types of new shows: science-oriented
programming that speaks to the human
fascination with the world, and characterdriven
unscripted shows with a science
twist. “Our character-driven stuff has
some science in it, and the science-driven
stuff has a lot of character,” he says.

The network will do less lifestyle-type
shows in its live and longform programming.
Instead, it will aim at a core audience
of “weather enthusiasts” who like
to do things outdoors and take on the
environment. That audience is composed
of active consumers.

“This demographic really matters to
marketers. They’re affluent, younger,
early adopters. And they tend to rely on
the weather in making purchase decisions,”
Clark says.

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