Weather Channel Pinpoints Ads

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A few days ago, The Weather Channel began offering national advertisers a rare opportunity: customized TV commercials based on regional preferences, changes in the weather and even the pollen count.

The Weather Channel is betting its new "copy-splitting" technology—the ability to simultaneously send out different ads targeted to local markets across the country—boosts its advertising base and breaks ground in the way advertising is done at the national level. The system, called IntelliStar, is also a defense tool against unprecedented competition from 24-hour digital weather channels planned by NBC, cable operators and other local broadcasters.

In a media market increasingly cluttered with sound bites and sales pitches, the Weather Channel offers a unique way to "micro-market." Such narrowcasting—boring down to reach precisely the people who want a particular product—has always been cable's edge over broadcasters, but network technicians consider their home-grown system a breakthrough.

"When the book of the first 100 years of television advertising is written, this is the beginning of an important chapter," predicts Paul Iaffaldano, general manager of the Weather Channel's media solutions group.

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