The Weather Channel’s Targeted Predictions Help Advertisers Move Merchandise

With the weather getting dicey out there (at least here in Aurora, Illinois), a weather-related blog post seemed timely. Instead of focusing on the snow or temperatures, I thought I’d shine some light on what The Weather Channel has been doing these past few weeks in terms of their advertising.

Paul Walsh, a former U.S. Air Force meteorologist, came to the popular channel about six months ago as a VP of weather analytics. Surprisingly, that’s not the most notable thing about him; he’s spent over ten years helping companies determine how changing weather patterns could affect their business. What’s his job at The Weather Channel, exactly? He’ll sell targeted weather predictions to advertisers on the channel so they can better reach their target markets.

“Get ready Chicago, for some chilly weather – with a sweater from Kohls!”

Does this seem confusing and jargon heavy? Essentially, if weather patterns hint toward abnormally cold weather in Chicago next week, then The Weather Channel could tell companies to start advertising their heavy-duty products like sweaters or coats. This will help the stores move their inventory faster and help TWC sell advertising quicker.

In an interview with AdWeek, Walsh said: “Understanding what kind of retail behavior the weather is influencing gives us the ability to help our advertisers deliver the precise, right message at the precise, right location.”

Makes sense to me. Why advertise a sale on hats and scarves in Iowa during December if they’re experiencing a warmer-than-normal winter? Or, on the flip side, if rain is headed toward New York in July, then it’s probably a good time to stop airing commercials on your swimsuit sale and focus on the fantastic umbrellas you have.

If you dislike the weather, just wait 20 minutes.

Barry Lowenthal, president of the media agency The Media Kitchen, said, “Weather-triggered media is nothing new; we’ve bought it before. But usually, that advertising is done on a daily basis. So the idea that we’d have more time to plan and adjust inventory accordingly could be a nice opportunity.”

We’ve all probably noticed that the ads next to an online weather report change daily, just like the weather. This same idea will be applied to advertising on the actual weather station, too.

Not only will Walsh’s position help The Weather Channel maintain their advertisers to pay for all their programming, but he’ll also help companies sell more of their merchandise. Even though only one undisclosed company has signed up to test this new service, parties on both sides have high hopes for ‘Weather on Demand,’ which is the current name they’re going with.

What are your thoughts with this new service, do you think it’ll help stores and companies move their inventory? Would you pay more attention to ads featuring coats if you knew colder weather was coming rather than just airing commercials when winter “officially” started? Will you watch The Weather Channel now because of this service? Sound off below!

Amy Hoidas

Amy is one of Quality Logo Products’ Community Manager. She is a self-professed newspaper nerd and thoroughly enjoys reading business and financial news and having impromptu discussions about it. Oh yeah, she’s “one of those” people! A true Midwestern girl by nature, she loves riding her bike, photography, and the Chicago Cubs. You can also connect with Amy on


  1. Alex Brodsky

    This is a bold idea, certainly. I’m not quite sure of the effectiveness (especially for the television station), strictly due to the audience that watches The Weather Channel.

    There are people out there who will sit down in front of the TV and watch their programming, but I feel most consumers are doing other things, waiting for them to get to the weather in their particular area. Once they hear a key phrase, like “in Illinois” they begin paying attention. Due to this, I feel most commercials on the station miss their target audience anyways, no matter what they’re selling.

    This is probably much more useful for online advertising, as people nowadays are much more apt to check out or the app on their smartphone right before heading out of the house. It’s HERE that an ad might strike their fancy and move more merchandise.

    Very interesting topic, Amy!

    • Amy Swanson

      I think you’re exactly right regarding our generation and TWC, Alex. I have no idea what channel it is at my home, but I do have their app on my iPod Touch that I’ll check before leaving the house. My parents and grandparents on the other hand, know exactly what channel it is and don’t own smartphones. It comes down to who exactly the companies are trying to attract.

      Excellent point, Alex. Thanks!

    • Rachel

      I’m a total weirdo — I used to watch the Weather Channel when I was younger. Just, you know, watch it, like a regular TV channel, even though they repeat stuff every like 15 minutes or so. What can I say, it was entertaining! I don’t do that anymore (I swear), but I regularly turn on the Weather Channel in the background as I’m getting ready in the morning, and I do notice the commercials on occasion (lots of Disney World commercials, interestingly).

      So I guess what I’m saying is that, while I agree most people probably use the website more than watch the channel, I think there are still a lot of us out there who watch the TV channel enough to justify an ad strategy like what Amy’s post describes.

      Great post, Amy! As Alex said, it’s a very interesting topic. 🙂

      • Amy Swanson

        That’s interesting that they air a lot of Disney World ads in the morning. I guess they’re hoping to attract all the worker bees out there who want a vacation 😉 Thanks, Rachel for commenting!!

  2. Jill Tooley

    I’m honestly surprised that they haven’t done this already! It’s only logical for TWC to profit off of their predictions, after all. I guess this means they’ll have to be extra confident of their forecasts first, though! I’d be pissed if I spend mucho dinero on an ad targeted to raincoats if the sun was blasting that day. 😉

    It seems like advertisers and TWC will benefit from this for sure, but I don’t know how consumers will feel about it. I’m so numb to ads now that I probably wouldn’t even notice, but some viewers may be more perceptive of this change. I don’t see how it could be a bad thing for customers, really, since they’d be finding out about store specials that they might actually be looking for!

    Now I’m curious to find out what that one “secret” first store/advertiser is…

    • Amy Swanson

      I’m really curious to see what TWC finds out about their viewers with using this type of advertising. Like I mentioned in Alex’s comment, I rarely watch TWC so if I did watch it I may notice the ads initially. But for someone who watches it religiously, will they notice?

      I’m also curious to hear if the stores notice a change in traffic when they advertise their snow boots two days before a snow storm is expected to hit. I hope either TWC shares their findings or the stores, I’m very interested to find out if this is a successful idea or not.

  3. Jaimie Smith

    This is such a brilliant idea! It helps TWC and retail stores so much I am sure. I agree with Jill, I am kind of surprised this hasn’t been done sooner.
    Awesome post, Amy!

    • Amy Swanson

      Thanks, Jaimie! It sure seems like everyone comes out a winner, we shall see 🙂

  4. Jeff Porretto

    I’m not ok with a lot of advertising techniques, but this one seems actually practical to me. I’m dannon yogurt commercials shoved in my face 17 times an hour even though I hate yogurt. It’s actually telling me, “Hey, it’s gonna be cold you idiot! You might want a jacket made this decade!” And I approve of that =]

    • Amy Swanson

      Hahaha, at the end of the weather segment on the nightly news I always have to think, “Wait a second, what is it supposed to do tomorrow?!” even though I watched the whole stupid thing. I’d appreciate the meteorologist telling me straight forward, “Hey, it’s gonna be cold you idiot!” Until that happens, this advertising will have to do 😉

    • Candice J.

      Haha, I totally agree with Jeff. With the weather being so unpredictable (especially in Chicago) its nice to have some sort of predictable information. I can’t tell you how many times I wasn’t prepared for the weather ahead and once it hit didn’t know where to go to get weather specific items I need. I think they may be on to something here! Besides you have to get a coat from Chicago made to handle Chicago winter! That jacket from 10 years ago you bought in AZ is not going to cut it!

  5. Jen

    This is amazing all around, and like everyone else has mentioned, how has this not been done already?! Great post Amy, very interesting 🙂

  6. Eric

    I don’t think is actually all too terrible an idea. I know you mentioned clothing retail and, say, sweaters, but the automotive industry, or home improvements stores could really benefit from this kind of advertising. Need salt? Gas can for the snowblower? New shovel? BAM!

    Like Jill mentioned, though, it’s a gamble and a half when it comes to which advertisment would be used for which weather pattern…my best suggestion would be each participating company could contribute items or promotions for rain or shine, etc. No matter what, they still get an ad, and no matter what, it still remains relevant.

    Smart stuff. Nice post, Amy!

    • Amy Swanson

      I never thought about Home Depot or Lowes’ advertising, but you’re right. If an ice storm was headed to the mid west, then it’s probably a good time to stock up on salt and oil for your generator! Sha-bam! 😉

      I would love to know how exactly buying a slot works, does the retailer provide ‘x’ amount of ads to run that cover all their bases; rain, shine, snow, heat wave, etc.? It would make the most sense, wouldn’t it?

  7. Bret Bonnet

    Do advertisers get a refund when the weather men get it wrong?

    For ex. – it’s supposed to snow in Chicago on Tuesday, but instead it’s 100 degrees and sunny. Just because Amy Snow got it wrong, and the Weather Channel aired my ad for snow blowers during summer time weather, does this mean I get my money back?

    • Amy Swanson

      I honestly have no idea, Bret. I hope they planned ahead for this circumstance, because it could easily happen. Eric and I wondered if you (the company) give them ‘x’ amount of commericals to cover all the possible weather that could occur, or do they just get one commerical and you’d better hope it rains when they say it’s going to. To answer your question, I have no freaking clue.

      Ps. I’m sure ‘Amy Snow’ would never get the weather wrong, she sounds like a very reputable meteorologist 😉

  8. Mandy Kilinskis

    I think that’s brilliant of the Weather Channel, especially if it can give stores time to stock up on merchandise. When I worked at Target, whenever we would have terrible weather, we would always run out of umbrellas! And then, of course, everyone that couldn’t buy an umbrella would complain to us. For retail workers everywhere, I think it’s great. 🙂

    • Amy Swanson

      That’s a great point to make, Mandy! I can only imagine dealing with angry customers complaining about things you have no control over… oh wait, isn’t that what working part-time retail is all about?!

      I’d hope that this new strategy would help out consumers and stores be more prepared for the weather!

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