B2C or B2B? Big data and the weather company

‘Big data’ is probably one of the trendiest terms now. The amount of data we generate in this digital world is essentially transforming every aspect of our lives. By collecting and analyzing valuable data, we are able to gain new insights and identify relationships to inform our decision-making (see what big data can do).

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In fact, the weather company, parent company of the weather channel, had been dealing in “big data” long before it was popular. The accuracy of the company’s weather data gave TWC an advantage of gaining a large consumer base. TWC profits from both the consumer display ads and expert analysis of its weather data it marketed to corporate clients.

The mass shift to mobile has given the company opportunity to leverage its big data to obtain and maintain customers and increase advertising revenue. In doing so, TWC developed an app that targeted specifically at runners, providing accurate and real-time weather forecasts to allow users to plan when to run, what to wear and how to hydrate; videos, integrated Google app that provides consumers with playlists and social media sharing functions were added to enhance user experience.

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Creating app that delivers unique benefits to customer is a smart way to leverage its big data. But monetizing through advertising isn’t necessarily a good strategy. People don’t like banner ads on apps. Mobile screens are too small, the ads are tiny and few people click on the them. Companies like Facebook has struggled with monetizing its user base through advertising because marketers doubt the effectiveness of mobile display adds.

Successful brands use mobile apps as ways to engage customers and create better user experience. Nike drives its sales by creating Nike+, an app that works with a special chip in runner’s shoes to monitor runners’ performance, making people to buy Nike shoes to be able to use the app.

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The Nike+ app

Unlike brands that have actual consumer-facing products, the weather data is an open online source that cannot be monetized directly. In my opinion, TWC should adopt a B2B strategy: leveraging both of its weather data and the running data and market their data assets to other organizations. In fact, companies like Home Depot have used TWC’s weather data to predict what products or services would be wanted when and where. Similarly, the running data collected from the app can be marketed to organizations who value running analytics (biometeorological data for example). In this way, users get to engage with the ‘brand’ in a more sustainable way but at the same time generate more meaningful data that can be monetized through a B2B process.

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