The Weather Company opens its data trove to marketers on outside platforms

The Weather Company’s forecast calls for selling a lot more data.

Weather has a new product that allows marketers to use its location and weather data to make their own transactions on inventory outside of Weather’s properties. The product, which is in pilot with a handful of agencies and a few programmatic firms, will become available on the open market later this quarter when it will be sold to various players in the ad supply chain such as agencies, brands, retargeters and programmatic platforms. It is an extension of the data products that Weather has pushed for years.

“We are breaking apart the data from the media,” said Jeremy Hlavacek, vp of global automated monetization at The Weather Channel. “By offering data off-property, we can get into markets we haven’t been in before like search and social advertising.”

Weather has long been in the data business with products like WeatherFx that allow advertisers to target readers based off weather conditions, but the major differences with the new product is that it is available to clients outside of agencies and brands; clients now make the transactions themselves when they buy on outside properties while using Weather’s data and clients can make those transactions without having to purchase Weather inventory.

“The complaint over four years was, ‘We love this data, but we want more scale,’” Hlavacek said. “So now we are passing the data segments to other partners.”

For about four years, Weather has had a product called Extender where Weather bought inventory on outside properties on behalf of advertiser clients. The Extender product was used when advertisers made large buys that Weather’s inventory alone couldn’t meet. But, unlike the new product, clients had no control over what outside websites their ads would appear on.

“The problem with that model is the agency partners would say, ‘We are the ones in charge of the media buying,’” Hlavacek said. “Advertisers may want this data, but they want to execute the buy themselves.”

Four employees work on the new product full-time. Hlavacek said that number will grow throughout the year, but he doesn’t expect it to skyrocket since tech and sales people from parent-company IBM will pitch in part-time. He declined to share how much revenue he anticipates the new product will bring in, but he said that over the past few years its other data products collectively drove “hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue” for Weather.

Hlavacek credited the shift in how Weather allows marketers to access its data to the company’s acquisition by IBM last year.

“As a publisher in the past, we might be hesitant [to increase data access] as our main goal was just to sell media,” he said. “But now we are becoming more of a platform company by relying on [IBM’s] data and AI capabilities, and using that technology horsepower to offer unique solutions.”

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