Weather matters — and Wetter.com shares what every mobile marketer needs to know
Mobile marketers have come to recognize the importance of leveraging real-time information about consumers and their context to deliver relevant and impactful marketing and content when people need and will value it most. Add weather to the equation and opportunities to drive more conversions through more meaningful consumer interactions rise into the stratosphere. This is because weather doesn’t just influence action; it is the most universal — and in many cases — the most significant factor in consumer decision-making.
Reams of research underline the influence of weather on consumer actions and purchases. At one level, it’s the information that grabs our attention. ATYM reports that 24% of respondents check for weather updates and forecasts multiple times per day (and 41% said they check the weather every day). Of these, 66% of respondents said they check weather updates online and 37% use a mobile device to check the weather. At the other end of the spectrum, it’s the fundamental driver of consumer spend. University researchers in the U.S., for example, have discovered data patterns that show the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the car we drive, and the house we buy are all purchase decisions that can be linked to weather conditions.
The impact of weather on purchases is pervasive and profound, can all be determined by commonplace fluctuations in weather. Marius Neumann, CEO at Wetter.com, the leading online weather portal in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, discusses why weather is a critical component of a comprehensive marketing strategy and how marketers can benefit from a deeper understanding of weather data and how they can leverage these insights to and where they can get started.
It’s just over a year since Wetter.com added weather solutions and weather analytics to its mix of capabilities. What is the fit?
By way of background, Wetter.com is part of the ProSiebenSat1. Media SE Group and our roots are in providing a consumer-facing platform around weather services. We’re the number one portal in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. On top of this core business, our second pillar is broadcast. We broadcast services for media companies, including radio and print, and we produce weather shows and weather content for other media companies. Our data business is another pillar and one that is the most recent. It’s focused on offering weather solutions and weather analytics to brands and retailers.
Weather is the data set that equips marketers to gain insight into consumer purchase intent at a given moment because weather is the one factor that influences the most purchasing decisions, yet not very many companies understand the exact impact weather has on their business. We help them understand that impact and act upon it. For retailers, it’s about understanding the impact of weather on product sales and using those insights to optimize their resources. In the case of brands, the focus is more on understanding the impact of weather on CTRs in order to optimize media spend.
Weather is a universally important factor influencing consumer behavior, but it’s also ever-changing and impacts different regions differently. What is needed to offer effective weather solutions to marketers?
It’s important to have market knowledge, but you also need a team on the ground to focus on each individual client with a customized solution. That’s the approach we have purposely chosen because marketers need much more than an API to get the full benefit of weather data. We start with statistical modeling to show the individual brand or retailer the impact of weather on their business. It may sound obvious, but many marketers make assumptions about how rain or sunshine impact sales, for example. It’s another thing entirely to show it.
After we do the modeling, we work with the client to create a solution based on the need they have and the results we have. By definition, this is a highly customized solution — and part of the reason why we have seen such huge progress and significant growth in our business in the last year.
Marketers are becoming more aware of the impact of weather. How well equipped are they to action on it?
At Wetter.com we have data scientists and capabilities to harness the data, produce models and identify important correlations and patterns. However, the data we receive from the client is not always 100% accurate. Sometimes there are biases or missing data, and that’s where we see a solution in using AI to find patterns and data errors faster. This is something we can improve with AI.
I can share an example from one of our clients, a fast food company in Austria where we did an analysis looking at the impact of weather on each individual store. It was interesting that the overall impact on the business was not that big. In fact, there were stores in shopping malls that showed little or no weather impact at all — which isn’t so surprising as they are indoors. However, we also identified several stores that were extremely weather dependent. The analysis was the first critical step to understanding where and how to measure the impact of weather on store performance. Having established the real performance of each individual store we can then work with the client to organize their resources better based on forecasts. It allows us to say, ‘we expect an uplift of X based on the weather in your store next Sunday, so please provide enough staff to handle the traffic and the knock-on effect of heavy word-of-mouth,’ for example.
There’s clear benefit in understanding how a variation in the weather can produce pronounced effects on sales or just foot traffic. How does a marketer get the most out of the data?
Marketers need to be curious and want to find out the impact of weather on their business. It starts with asking the right questions. But don’t just ask the question ‘how big is the influence of weather on my business?’ — although that is an important first step. Also keep in mind what you ask, and the answer you want, will also depend on where you are in the company. If you’re a controller, for example, you want to understand performance and optimize resources to take advantage of an opportunity, for example. If you’re a marketer, you want to know the impact of weather in order to plan media spend and target campaign creatives for high returns.
Targeting requires quality data — but it also demands trust. How should marketers approach this?
At Wetter.com we analyze the data, and afterward, we delete it. We recommend companies use their own data, but we also acknowledge that many retailers and brands are somewhat behind in being able to access and unlock the data they have. Data should always be accurate and more data is often better. We are working with an e-commerce company where the analysis benefits from having access to data that is broken down by mobile-enabled, web, desktop, tablet and app traffic.
As a rule, the deeper and the more detailed the data is, the better the results. While some companies can provide monthly sales data, that’s not specific enough. Best results require at least daily data. Of course, it also depends on the amount of sales that a company has. If you’re a company with huge sales, it’s good to have sales data on an hourly basis. It follows that the more data points we get, the better the analysis and the outcome we produce will be. Most times we start out with a small data set, detailed data from, say, five stores to establish relationships and the weather impact, and then we can scale up.
You have your own independent and anonymized data that you can bring to the table because Wetter.com tops the list of leading weather apps in Germany. How does that add to accuracy and the insights you offer?
We have about 5 million active app users that volunteer the data that allows us to create anonymized in-store attribution models. This allows us to see, and measure, the impact of campaigns on footfall and, ultimately, conversions. We’re a mobile-first business. We deliver a solution to retailers that want to understand and engage shoppers in the store and on their devices.
We don’t just help our clients to understand past performance; our models enable them to make better predictions for the future and make better budget allocations based on those forecasts. In a short time, since we launched this business, we have seen a tremendous impact. Marketers used to start with more of a trial and error approach. They guess the weather has to have an impact and they take action without thinking weather can be varied and very subjective. We help them take a different approach. First, we determine with certainty if there is a weather effect and, if there’s one, we determine just how big that influence is. The next step is to create and customize solutions based on that model, and not arrive at decisions by trial and error. We don’t want to sell technology; we want to work with a customer on one project that delivers results and then scale.
Editor’s Note: This exclusive interview is part of a series showcasing the people and the companies impacting mobile marketing in Germany and globally. It was conducted and written by Peggy Anne Salz, Chief Content Officer of the MMA Germany, mobile analyst, and content marketing strategist at MobileGroove.