Partner Spotlight is a series on our blog where we hear directly from advertisers, agencies, DSPs, publishers, and partners about industry hot topics, challenges, predictions, and more. In this edition we interview Randi Stipes, Head, Consumer & Ad Sales Marketing at Watson Media and Weather, makers of The Weather Channel app.
Randi Stipes: We have 45 million users monthly who value our brand, but that doesn't mean we ever want to stop improving. Our teams spent a great deal of time with this redesign and took a very thoughtful approach that balances the needs of consumers and advertisers alike.
We started with user testing, going straight to our users to understand exactly what was important to them. We then conducted more than 100 in-depth interviews and spent countless hours on performance to ensure the highest quality experience every time they open the app. Once the app was developed, we also did final user testing, and we will continue to actively listen to feedback in this post-launch phase. Through this testing, we found three key user problems:
We also met with our most valued clients to understand what metrics were important to them, such as viewability, brand safety, and visual breakthrough. All of this was part of a year-long process that involved cross functional collaboration throughout the organization.
RS: Our teams worked together from the very beginning to design ad experiences that were meaningful to advertisers and consumers alike. For example, Your Daily Weather Snapshot was designed with a keen eye towards how we know today’s user wants to consume content: visually. At the same time, we designed an ad experience within this feature that could adapt to a user’s location, weather, and more, bringing a fullscreen ad experience to brands that is also highly personalized to the user.
RS: Our home screen placement has always been a top performer for brands. We have reimagined this premium ad unit with the new design and introduced the Integrated Marquee. This new unit can support many different functionalities such as full screen overlays, virtual reality, video, animation, and can adapt to a user's weather and location. It’s a truly unique ad experience that can be customized for any brand’s KPIs.
The new app also provides more video ad opportunities. We designed the app experience to be more intuitive to the user, and our new bottom nav bar is the way to do that, with the video channel easily accessible via the bottom navigation. Users can can also swipe down from the home screen to see The Weather Channel’s compelling video content. This gives brands the opportunity to align themselves with our award-winning content in a trusted environment.
RS: Absolutely. We recognize that viewability is such a critical KPI for brands -- one that our dedicated ad squad continues to work tirelessly to address. Early returns are favorable; for example, our new Integrated Marquee is seeing a 20% improvement on viewability.
RS: Artificial intelligence (AI) is infused in just about everything we do here at IBM. AI/machine learning plays a role in The Weather Channel app in four ways.
RS: Daily new-user retention rates are up, and there’s been healthy adoption of new features like the home screen data viz and insights. 40% of users clicked into insights so far in our new app experience, compared to 34% during the same time last year. We also increased Lifestyle (i.e. outdoor, allergy) usage tenfold in our apps from the home screen due to our advanced AI surfacing relevant, more personalized insights to users in what we call our "Heads up" feature.
RS: The weather category is a very competitive one for apps, and according to App Annie, The Weather Channel was the #1 weather app by combined iOS App Store and Google Play worldwide downloads from 2014 through 2017. So, it was a bold decision to reimagine the app experience.
That said, there are several tips we’d offer to other publishers:
From The Weather Company, an IBM Business: The Weather Company helps people make informed decisions and take action in the face of weather. The company offers the most accurate forecasts globally with personalized and actionable weather data and insights to millions of consumers, as well as thousands of marketers and businesses via Weather’s API, its business solutions division (business.weather.com), and its own digital products from The Weather Channel (weather.com) and Weather Underground (wunderground.com).
The company delivers around 25 billion forecasts daily. Its products include the world’s most downloaded weather app, a top-20 U.S. website, a leading personal weather station network and IoT data platform, and industry-leading business solutions. Weather Means Business™. The world’s biggest brands in aviation, energy, insurance, media and government rely on The Weather Company for data, technology platforms and services to help improve decision-making and respond to weather’s impact on business. For more, visit https://newsroom.ibm.com/the-weather-company.
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