PAY TO TURN OFF ADS WITH WEATHERBUG.COM

Or Choose Your Sponsor and Get Free Access in Novel Online Business Model

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The news Web site WeatherBug has unveiled an online ad model that hands users control over whether advertising appears or not when they log on to the service.

If the consumers elect to view ads, they get free access to the daily weather news; if they prefer an ad-free version of the service, they pay a $19.95 annual fee ($1.66 a month) instead.

And those who go for ads and free service can also choose which sponsor's ads they want to see each time they return.

'On-demand' ads
While free readers have no control over the content of the local weather reports that WeatherBug provides, they can change the advertising that appears around it. The company calls it an "on-demand" ad model. Consumers who visit the site can opt to download WeatherBug 5.0, which then appears as an icon on their desktop. This allows consumers to then change the ads they are shown during their visit.

Gary Stein, marketing and advertising analyst at Jupiter Research, said: "WeatherBug is outside-of-the-browser Internet advertising and it's really exciting." He said that as far as he knows, WeatherBug is the first to offer a sponsor-swapping feature with such frequency options.

Pay-for-performance
He added that WeatherBug's pay-for-performance ad model was also a bonus, as the company only charges advertisers if consumers choose to view their ads.

So far companies such as AOL Time Warner's America Online, AstraZeneca's Nexium, Meredith Corp.'s Better Homes & Gardens and Gannett Co.'s USA Today have partnered with WeatherBug, which has around 17 million users.

Controlling the sponsor
Andy Jedynak, WeatherBug's senior vice president and general manager, said: "The value proposition is that WeatherBug provides advertising that the user is interested in. We can send them sponsored welcome e-mails or other e-mail tips. Our research shows that 65% of our users liked to take control of the sponsor."

The company launched the idea of choosing a sponsor last year. But new technology in WeatherBug 5.0, unveiled today, allows consumers to change the advertiser at will. The company is a division of AWS Convergence Technologies.

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