With 'CableFX,' The Weather Company Pushes Into Addressable TV

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Curt Hecht, Global CROThe Weather Company, owner of The Weather Channel and its digital extensions, unveiled a plan to bring more addressability to its TV advertising.

Dubbed "CableFX," the new offering from the company’s WeatherFX Division brings existing "big data" to its local and regional TV targeting system. The idea  is to more closely bridge TWC's TV, web, tablet and mobile channels.

“Weather affects everything, and CableFX allows marketers to go from a passive ‘cope and avoid’ position to a proactive ‘anticipate and exploit’ approach, driving deeper connection with customers and better ROI with timely, relevant messaging,” Curt Hecht, global chief revenue officer for The Weather Company,  told the crowd at the company's upfront presentation on the 36th floor of the Mandarin Hotel in Manhattan.

The company's traditional focus has been on local targeting of people interested in weather -- dubbed "Weather Enthusiasts." But as Hecht told AdExchanger after the Wednesday morning presentation was over, the new strategy is to marshall data from the company's digital insights group, Weather FX, and bring it to bear on TV ads. 

"This comes back to being on the agency side and trying to make TV more addressable, more targeted," Hecht said. (Hecht and TWC CEO David Kenny were colleagues at Publicis Groupe' VivaKi some years back.) "It was very frustrating for me because I was never able to do it. If we can make this happen, we'll both be better able to maximize value and eliminate waste."

With regard to agency partners, Hecht says TWC is only interested in working with two shops on the CableFX initiative -- for now, at least.  This is a somewhat striking statement since the usual purpose of the TV upfront season is for networks to corral as many advertisers and agencies -- and lock in as much spending -- as possible.

"I'm not convinced all clients need to be at the household level of targeting," Hecht said. "I've asked my team to find out who are the agencies with the capability, knowledge, the team and the commitment to do addressable TV – and frankly, the commitment to us – to do it effectively. They need to show that they want to grow their business with us."

The company has also started working with two otherwise unidentified software providers to make TWC's data more actionable for TV, said Vikram Somaya, GM of Weather FX, in a conversation with AdExchanger.

"The question has always been: How do you bring online-like targeting to TV, which has always been about scale and tonnage," Somaya said. "And we've endeavored to push out these simple messages that are extracted from complex data, while making the buying of this advertising easy and efficient."

Among the other matters TWC sought to bring to marketers' and buyers' attention was the introduction of several new online-only, short-form webisodes, which are designed to showcase the company's extensive online video library and large audience.

Twitter Relationship

TWC also announced a more formal relationship with Twitter on distributing branded weather reports and information.

Hecht was joined on stage by Joel Lunenfeld, Twitter's VP, global brand strategy, who said the partnership will make it easy for marketers to extend TV and digital content opportunities to Twitter to increase audience size and drive engagement.

Specifically, TWC is working with Twitter's Promoted Content team to enable video to play seamlessly "in-tweet."

"By combining video with Promoted Tweets, marketers can drive reach and target by location, interest, device and more," Lunenfeld said. Content programs may include local forecasts, customized or branded content, severe weather coverage, user-generated content and more.

The idea of a TV network working on an official basis with Twitter is something that will probably be heard a lot during the coming upfronts. After all, as Somaya noted, citing Nielsen stats, about 30% of all tweets are about TV.

AdExchanger caught up with Amanda Richman, president of digital at Publicis' MediaVest, and asked her about her initial thoughts of TWC's presentation. "They've got a good story in terms of the range of original programming, particularly online," she said. "Plus, the data story is really compelling. At a high level, Twitter is a great partner to help enhance the viewing and branding experience. Both on top of and within the programming. But we'll see what the details are later."

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