The Weather and Big Data Equals Big Business.


The weather has a significant influence on almost one-third of the world’s buying everyday. “The old paradigm of business and weather was cope and avoid,” says The Weather Channel’s vice president for weather analytics. “With [big data] technology, the paradigm is now anticipate and exploit.”

The Weather Channel (TWC) is an American basic channel and satellite television company, owned by a consortium made up of Blackstone Group, Bain Capital, and NBCUniversal located in Atlanta, Georgia.

The channel has broadcast weather forecasts and weather-related news and analysis, along with documentaries and entertainment programming related to weather since 1982.

TWC provides numerous customized forecasts for online users through its website,, including home and garden, and event planning forecasts. Third-party web analytics providers Alexa and SimilarWeb rated the site as the 146th and 244th most visited website in the world respectively, as of July 2015. SimilarWeb rated the site as the most visited weather website globally, attracting more than 126 million visitors per month.

That massive web traffic is exactly how The Weather Channel has turned ‘Big Data’ into a completely new business.

TWC is before all a technology platform operator, which developed an extremely high-volume data platform, collecting and analyzing data from 3 billion weather forecast reference points, more than 40 million smartphones and 50,000 airplane flights per days, and serves 65 billion unique access to weather data each day.

TWC collects terabytes of data everyday and uses it not only to predict the weather in millions of locations, but also to predict what consumers in those locations will buy.

In a very savvy move TWC married more than 75 years’ worth of weather data with aggregated consumer purchasing data. For example, air-conditioners sales increases during hot weather, but folks in Atlanta suffer three days longer than people in Chicago before running out to buy one. Such analysis has created a whole new business for TWC – ‘Selling ads based on big data analytics’.

For example, P&G Pantene and Puffs brands buy ads based on TWC’s weather and consumption analytics. A women checking The Weather Channel app in a humid locale receives an ad for Pantene Pro-V Smooth, a product formulated to tame frizzy hair.

Checking the app again on low humidity day or drier area results in seeing an ad for a volumizing product instead. Similarly, a consumer looking at a high pollen forecast receives an ad for Puffs facial tissues, with the message, “A face in need deserves Puffs indeed.”


Currently, TWC is generating half of the company’s ad revenue to the business using web analytics.

Big data and web analytics helped TWC maintain an extensive online presence at and through a set of mobile applications for smartphones and tablet computers. These services are now administered by The Weather Channel’s former parent company, The Weather Company, which was sold to IBM in 2016. The Weather Channel continues to license its brand assets and weather data from IBM.

TWC’s case is the epitome of how effective use of big data and web analytics can lead to marketing opportunities. It also demonstrates how today’s big companies can advance through ‘Digital Marketing’ which can also help them to diversify and strengthening their business portfolios.

Market to the Masses? Don’t!

In a new book, “Flip The Funnel” Joseph Jaffe, president of Crayon, has taken a look at that most basic of marketing concepts…the process by which we funnel everyone in the universe down to the handful who will purchase our product/service…and asks, “What the hell are we doing?” Why do we spend all of our time with people who a) don’t know about us or b) don’t care about us, trying to, you know, make them know about us and care about us.
Jaffe thinks that’s nuts because it’s not only outmoded, it’s actually doing us harm. His solution? Instead of spending millions trying to funnel the universe down to a handful, we should focus on that handful and use our creativity to figure out how to make the most of them. Why? Because it’s more efficient, it’s more effective and it’s more profitable. And in this economy, those are three reasons that are mighty hard to argue with.

One might call this simple customer service, and although Jaffe uses the term, it’s not really what he’s talking about. For customer service today is often little more than a place where customers complain and where companies tell them they have no reason to complain.

If you think that’s the way to make the most of your customers, please Google “United Breaks Guitars” immediately…remember that United miscue?

No, Jaffe actually means something that is, in a sense, revealed by that viral phenomenon. If the customer has that much public power — in addition to the enormous private power they have to actually buy or not buy your product or service — why wouldn’t you want to start by focusing on them, instead of ending with them as some sort of byproduct?

Buttressing this simple insight with data from Coke, Zappo’s and other businesses that demonstrate how lucrative that customer is, Jaffe then goes on to discuss how that simple shift changes everything.

It changes how marketers spend money, it changes where marketers spend money, and it changes even the structures of corporations and the job responsibilities of employees within those structures.

If “Flip the Funnel” did nothing other than identify this shift and sketch out its ramifications, it would be worth reading. But it also outlines ways to use the exploding media forms that have many CMOs and their traditional agencies scratching their heads in order to better connect with the customer.

At root what Jaffe is saying is that a successful business today isn’t built on the idea of one transaction per customer. It’s built on the idea that the relationship doesn’t end when the cash register closes. It’s built on the idea of multiple transactions from multiple customers. Which, I know, sounds insanely obvious. But how many companies operate that way? I mean, you’re a customer, right? When was the last time you felt a company treated you like they really wanted you to come back again? When they did, did you come back? When they didn’t, did you not?

Nowhere is this dedication to engagement more apparent than in the book itself. “Flip the Funnel” is full of ways to connect with Jaffe (e-mail, Twitter, podcasts, etc.). It directs you to additional content online. It invites you to sign up as a reviewer and register for contact and content — and the list goes on. In other words, the relationship with the reader does not end with the purchase of the book…great idea.

Google Buys AdMob for $750 Million.

With its eye on the burgeoning mobile advertising market, Internet giant Google said Monday that it will buy the AdMob mobile advertising network for $750 million in stock.

San Mateo, California based AdMob places ads for clients such as Ford Motor, Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble on many mobile phone platforms – most notably the iPhone.
Google, which is pushing aggressively into the mobile market via its Android mobile phone operating system, popularized online advertising with pay-per-click search ads. The company says AdMob will bring more mobile choices for its advertisers.

“We believe that great mobile advertising products can encourage even more growth in the mobile ecosystem,” Google said in a blog post announcing the deal.

AdMob focuses on display ads on mobile Web browsers and advertising within apps on smartphones.

The mobile advertising market is in its infancy. Forrester Research estimates revenue at $391 million for 2009 and projects growth to $1.2 billion by 2014.

Mac Versus PC Ad War.

Six months ago I began to notice that Microsoft was finally taking a crack at Apple (after two years) in the “I’m a PC, I’m a Mac” war waging on TV. I did hear some comments from Apple users regarding how “stupid” PC users were, which is to be expected. I suppose it either shows fierce brand loyalty or that Apple owners need to take some time off.

The agencies for which I have worked used both PC and Mac…a testament to the strengths of each platform. I do applaud Apple for putting the smackdown on Microsoft regarding customer service. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of trying to get anything out of Microsoft that is not available on their web site, good luck. There are a billion steps to go through, and no easy way to do it. In fact, even if you do get through, the answer is usually not the one that fixes the problem. Such is the empire of Darth Gates.

Microsoft didn’t make much of an effort to fight against Apple’s Get a Mac campaign when it launched 2006. Finally in 2008, Microsoft announced a $300 million ad campaign to fire back.

The company’s first few bullets shot at Apple appeared ineffective, beginning with some quirky commercials starring Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates, followed by a friendly campaign called “I’m a PC.” Microsoft’s latest Laptop Hunter commercials are the fiercest yet, delivering sarcastic lines such as “I guess I’m not cool enough to be a Mac user” that appear to be echoing in the chambers of consumers’ brains.

Not sure yet if they are working but this may be their best attempt…aside from the “I’m not cool enough” comment which I would take offense with if I was in the 18 to 24 demographic. Let’s see if it puts a dent in Mac’s image.

Top Ad Shop Auctions its Creative on eBay

We may be in a recession, but this year’s batch of interns at the creative advertising agency Crispin Porter & Bogusky will be getting fatter paychecks.

Not that the agency itself will be funding the pay increases for the 40 young talents who will slog away in its Miami and Boulder, Colo., offices on accounts such as “Guitar Hero” and Burger King. Rather, Crispin has launched an eBay auction for their services.
On-again, off-again Twitterer and top Crispin creative Alex Bogusky announced the auction this week via a tweet. The bidding began at $1 and as of this post had already climbed to $1,225, with eight days and 22 hours remaining. (That’s more than $30 for each intern.)
“The interns only make minimum wage, so we thought this would be a great way to augment that,” Mr. Bogusky said in an e-mail. “They’re excited about that.”

The winning bidder will receive a “creative presentation” developed by Crispin’s interns in a three-month period, consisting of strategies, recommended brand positioning and concepts. What the bidder won’t get is production services or any finished advertising materials. Travel and any other out-of-pocket expenses for the interns aren’t included either.

It seems a bit counterintuitive to farm out your own talent, but Mr. Bogusky said he doesn’t really see it that way. Each year, the interns work for Crispin clients, but a portion of their time is carved out to work on special assignments that are typically pro bono. Now they’ll just work on this instead. “It would be great if the high bidder is a cause-related thing,” Mr. Bogusky said.

Who isn’t welcome? The likes of Pizza Hut and Philip Morris. The fine print on the online auction page states that Crispin, which works for Domino’s, “reserves the right to decline services in the event of a conflict with any of our existing clients or for any other reason (like if you sell cigarettes) in our sole discretion.”

One of a kind Fuzzy Zoeller plays his last Masters

I will be sad to see Fuzzy leave the Masters…as a young creative director I was assigned to follow Fuzzy on the PGA Tour after he won the Masters his first time out. He was a character for sure but the renegade in him is what made him so interesting.
That is why my client Maxfli used him in their advertising. He went against the grain even then choosing to use a Maxfli ball over the Tour favorite Titleist.

I wasn’t much of a golfer but I grew to love and follow the game mostly because Fuzzy took all of the snobbish, pretension out of the game and because he gave me my first set of clubs and a few pointers.images-1
He also stated with confidence that I had the natural golf swing of a pro bowler.
I photographed him the morning after he beat Jack Nicklaus in the famous Skins game when he kissed the Golden Bear to Jack’s shock and amazement after sinking the winning putt. That kiss said it all. Jack represented the stuffiness of old golf and Fuzzy represented the new breed.

The best and worst moments of Fuzzy Zoeller’s professional life took place on the same expanse of manicured lawn, a few hundred yards apart.

In 1979, he was the first rookie in nearly a half-century to win the Masters, becoming golf’s equivalent of a made man. Almost 20 years later, the fast-walking, faster-talking, self-styled ambassador cracked an ugly joke on his way out of the tournament that has haunted him nearly every day since.

“Life’s not a bowl of cherries,” Zoeller said on Friday, walking off Augusta National after 30 years as a competitor for the last time. “You know that.”

His daughter Gretchen, one of four children and a former college golfer, was toting his bag. They hugged on the 18th green, where moments earlier; Zoeller was treated to a standing ovation. Both of them were fighting back tears.

It came at the end of a farewell tour that Mayor Deke Copenhaver kicked off on Monday by handing him the key to the city. Ever the funny man, Zoeller couldn’t resist a promise to return, if only because he already knew where the good bars in town were.

“I’m going to be at the mayor’s house tonight,” Fuzzy said. “So I know where his bar is at.”

He certainly did know the bars but he was friendly with everyone in the bars. Many nights Fuzzy’s manager had me make sure I got him back to the room before tee time, I don’t drink so I was for a short time his designated driver.

You won’t find golfers like 57-year-old Frank Urban Zoeller anymore, unless you count his friends on the 50-and-over Champions Tour, and maybe never will again. He was one of the game’s few remaining showmen, a little like Dean Martin, only inside the ropes. He’d throw off jokes between shots during a round, and then throw down a vodka tonic or two afterward.

No one was counting in 1997, when Tiger Woods wrapped up a historic win here and Zoeller, who’d finished tied for 33rd, suggested what Woods should serve at the Champions Dinner the following year, when the defending champion chooses the menu.

“So, you know what you guys do when he gets in here?” Zoeller said then. “You pat him on the back and say congratulations and enjoy it and tell him not to serve fried chicken next year. Got it?”

He smiled and walked away, then turned back and added, “or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve.”

Friends have said those 30 seconds obscured 30 years of goodwill. Zoeller lost some sponsors, but even worse, those close to him said he became more guarded, even in their company. You wouldn’t have known that watching Zoeller making his final circuit.

He cracked jokes with the members in green jackets on the first tee and most every one afterward. He lit a cigarette halfway down the first fairway, threw the butt down before skidding a 7-iron to 10 feet below the flag and didn’t bother to line up the putt before narrowly missing.

He didn’t line up any of his putts during his 1979 win, either, but for a different reason. Zoeller hadn’t even seen Augusta, let alone practiced there when he teed off in the first round. But as was the practice in those days, he was paired with a local caddie and followed every direction almost on faith. He described Jariah Beard as a “seeing-eye dog” leading a blind man around the course. It wasn’t far from the truth.

All these years later, Zoeller still doesn’t understand why none of his fellow pros hire a local caddie, a practice that Augusta National officials dropped soon after his win.
On Friday, he walked into the scoring hut and signed for a 76, which left him at 155 and 11 strokes over the cut. “I hope everybody’s had fun, because I’ve enjoyed my ride,” Zoeller said.

With that, he headed off toward the clubhouse and the locker where his own green jacket hangs. He plans to come back for the par-3 contest every year, then take a seat on the upstairs porch next to Arnold Palmer and watch the kids struggling with the wide green jigsaw puzzle that Zoeller put together correctly on his first try.

Whether his memories of the Masters fit together as easily, only he will ever know. But something he said before heading out to play on Friday, knowing it was his last round, suggested he was ready to try.

“When you’re playing well,” Zoeller said, “you remember everything. Maybe that’s the funny thing about professional golfers. They also have the ability to forget the bad stuff.”