The Weather Channel is aiming to protect its position as the definitive on-air weather source by offering both innovative targeted advertising tools and on-air weather forecasting abilities that deliver real-time graphic representations of weather.
On the advertising front, The Weather Channel began offering a sort of holy grail of ad relevancy earlier this year with its introduction of advertising tailored to a local market’s specific weather forecast. For instance, if the forecast calls for temperatures above 50 degrees, an ad for Campbell’s soup could be swapped out for one for Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, said Brian Field, chief information officer for the network. The so-called split copy is possible because of Intellistar, a local device that receives audio and video content in local markets. The capability is available in major markets and will be rolled out soon to smaller markets.
The Intellistar devices will also be put to use to provide an alternate feed for continuous coverage of certain severe weather situations. The Weather Channel plans to test the capability in Philadelphia in the first half of next year to learn when to activate the secondary feed, Mr. Shield said.
In the presentation arena, The Weather Channel relies on sister company WSI for most of its weather equipment. WSI’s TrueView product provides better rendering of graphics, especially in three dimensions, said Ian Miller, senior VP of weather systems at The Weather Channel.
“In the past the criticism of 3-D rendering has been that it was hard to understand where the viewer was in relation,” Mr. Miller said, adding that new weather tools harness the advances made in graphics for video games.
“Now, because of the graphic processing power, it can look like what you might see out your windows,” Mr. Miller said. “The whole point of telling the weather story on TV is telling people what to expect when they look out the window, so this creates an impression of what they might see in reality from the forecast, and I think that’s what people are looking for.”
Interactivity is also improving. Weathercasters can interact with graphics in real time on air, he said. “It’s just another way to tell the story, and gives a lot more freedom to the presenter to focus on the real weather.”