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Raining? Twitter wants to help sell you an umbrella

Tracey Samuelson Jun 12, 2014
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Raining? Twitter wants to help sell you an umbrella

Tracey Samuelson Jun 12, 2014
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One of the scariest lines a bad guy in a movie can say is, “I know where you live.”

But these days, thanks to location data, online advertisers almost always know where you are. 

In fact, Twitter and the Weather Channel want to let them in on still more information about potential customers — a newly announced partnership will target ads, or “promoted Tweets,” to users based on where they live and what the weather’s like.

By letting advertisers know a customer is shivering or sweating, they’re hoping to help the company target its products.

“Sixty degrees might be cold in Miami, which means that you want hot coffee,” says Curt Hecht, the global chief revenue officer at The Weather Channel. “Sixty degrees in Chicago means I’m getting an iced coffee, right?”

Hecht says The Weather Channel’s service doesn’t take into account users’ interests through past posts or searches, but rather tries to predict their needs based on current and upcoming weather conditions. In the past, the company has worked with Pantene to market anti-fizz hair products to customers on days with high humidity.

“If previously we used to think more about different advertising for different people, now we’re starting to think different advertising for the same people at different states of their environment — in this case weather,” explains Oded Netzer, a marketing professor at Columbia Business School.

There’s a strong correlation between weather and consumption, says Netzer. Knowing what the weather’s like is really useful for advertisers. Studies show that customers are generally more likely to buy things on nice days and even spend more for the same product if the weather is good.

“There’s some evidence that companies might be able to charge a little bit higher prices during warm weather conditions,” he says. “Whether this will be ethical to do and whether consumers react to that if companies do it is a whole different story.”

In other words, a consumer might find it helpful to see an ad for an umbrella right before it’s supposed to rain. Jacking up the price of air conditioners on a really hot day – not so much.

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