WeatherBug Busy on Multiple Fronts

Apr 19, 2004  •  Post A Comment

The popular online desktop weather alert WeatherBug will start infesting America Online this week.
In a deal that could put it on pace to triple its reach this year, the WeatherBug was slated to begin distribution today of the desktop temperature and weather application to AOL’s 36 million consumers who use the AOL Instant Messenger service.
Separately from this deal, WeatherBug, owned by AWS Convergence Technologies, is also rolling out a “unified bug” that would contain the logo and branding of the local broadcast partner on each bug used in a station’s designated market area. The goal is to help stations generate additional brand awareness by getting their name in front of users throughout the day.
In addition, WeatherBug is revamping the way it handles the share of ad inventory local broadcasters can sell on the WeatherBug. Under the new model, WeatherBug’s station partners can now peddle their share of the online ad inventory-such as banners, pop-ups and display ads-across all the bugs in their DMA, not just the bugs that have been downloaded through their site. That’s a change from the past, when stations could only sell the inventory on the bugs they distributed.
Historically, AWS has offered two different versions of the WeatherBug in each DMA: a station-branded version and a Weatherbug.com version. Since the majority of the 32 million people who have downloaded and registered a WeatherBug since 2000 did so through Weatherbug.com, stations were limited in the dollars they could earn on the service through ad sales and in the number of bugs that included their logo and brand.
Of the 32 million who have downloaded the application, about 15 million are monthly active users, said Andy Jedynak, senior VP of WeatherBug, consumer division. He predicts that with additional marketing and the AOL partnership, the number of active users could reach 45 million by the end of the year, benefiting the local station partners’ weather franchises.
As part of the partnership, AOL Instant Messenger users will be offered the WeatherBug. If they install it, they will enter their ZIP Code, which customizes the bug for their location and also brands it with the local broadcaster in that DMA that WeatherBug is partnered with.
WeatherBug currently is partnered with more than 100 local stations. It’s the top online weather property as measured by daily visitors, said John Saaty, senior VP, WeatherBug business division. According to data from Com Score Media Metrix, the WeatherBug application averaged 4.9 million daily visitors in January.
“What happens is with all of our WeatherBugs, we promote the broadcaster to extend their online reach. It keeps that tie between the viewers and the station,” he said.
That’s important to Evening Post-owned KOAA-TV, the NBC affiliate in Colorado Springs, Colo., that uses the bug. “This is a great extension of our brand because it allows people, even when they just hear the wind blowing outside their house, to get on the computer and see what the conditions are like in their neighborhood,” said Greg Boyce, news and Internet operations manager at the station.