IBM has acquired the Weather Channels digital and mobile properties as well as its data assets, enabling the technology company to tap industry-leading application capabilities and weather information as it seeks a bigger mobile role.
The Weather Channel is the fourth most used app in the United States and IBM is looking to harness the power behind it to better serve B2B partners from a technology standpoint. The acquisition also means access to significant weather data and consumer behavior through its properties, which can give marketers insight on receptive moments throughout the day.
Data is power in mobile advertising, and this deal is all about data, not content, said Ken Harlan, the CEO of MobileFuse. IBM works with many different data providers, and when they can add in a powerful new data set, it will make all the other data they have more actionable.
Combining one data set with another can often lead to significantly more value than either data set would have on its own, and the assets from the Weather Channel will give them a massive new information set that they can cut and combine in different ways, he said.
The acquisition means that IBM will have access to all of the Weather Channels technology and data platforms but not its television network or branding. The mobile app sees about 26 billion inquiries daily, which its platform is highly equipped to handle.
The mobile and web platforms also manage seven times the volume of the worlds leading search engine with 82 million unique monthly visitors. IBMs future endeavors into mobile and web will now be highly optimized at a massive scale.
The weather data itself is highly valuable, as marketers and companies are highly affected by the happenings of the weather and the information will allow IBM to undergo endeavors to help predict when to best reach consumers.
One thing that the Weather Channel did very effectively is tap into receptive moments, Mr. Harlan said. By looking at location and weather patterns, they could make inferences about what would be a receptive moment for a consumer and what would not, and this is really indicative of what marketers want and where the industry is going.
Chances are that IBM will be looking to build on receptive moments in some extent, and use their data to help marketers find receptive moments, since that is what brands and agencies are clamoring for, he said.
Weather in marketing
The Weather Channel technology will also be used to further develop IBMs question-and-answer computer Watson, which provides professionals in various fields decision-making ability. IBM will also be developing the Weather Channels ad platforms further by leveraging data-based marketing.
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 (see more).
For instance, the Weather Channel teamed up with nasal allergy medication Flonase up to offer an online and in-app Allergy Tracker for on-the-go reference that will also help drive consumers to the site and app for increased engagement (see more).
Data was already crucial to the Weather Channels business, and they have been much more than a website and TV channel for a while now, Mr. Harlan said. Now that the digital assets are sold to IBM, they will most likely double down on what they are doing with data, and it would not be a surprise to see them strike licensing deals with additional corporations and come up with a variety of ways to use this data.
This is an interesting move for IBM too, as they are usually focused on building the pipes and crunching the data, and not necessarily owning the data, he said.
Brielle Jaekel is editorial assistant at Mobile Marketer
Brielle Jaekel is staff writer on Mobile Marketer and Mobile Commerce Daily, New York. Reach her at email@example.com.