What The Weather Company's Sale to IBM Means for Advertisers

Marketers Will Still Be Able to Buy Across TV and Digital

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The sale of the digital and data assets of The Weather Company to IBM won't change how advertisers buy across The Weather Channel, weather.com, mobile apps and other digital assets, at least not yet.

Under the deal, IBM will acquire WSI, Weather Underground and The Weather Company brand, but will leave the TV segment under the ownership of private equity firms Bain Capital and The Blackstone Group, as well as Comcast's NBC Universal.

Ad sales for Weather Company under IBM will be led by Jeremy Steinberg, global head of sales, The Weather Company, while Alicia Muntzner, head of as sales, will continue to be responsible for sales for Weather Channel.

But Mr. Steinberg said clients who want to buy across the TV network and digital will still be able to do so.

"For the foreseeable future, it will be business as usual," Mr. Steinberg said. "We will work as partners to bring solutions to advertisers."

But over time there is a plan to split and build out differentiating tools, he added.

Mr. Steinberg said he will continue to bring The Weather Company to the marketplace as its own entity, selling weather.com, mobile apps, WeatherFX and Weather Underground.

Over the past year, Weather Company has restructured its ad sales team to better focus on data and offering deeper targeting to marketers. Its revamped its sales strategy to be able to sell ad inventory based on weather and location data through its WeatherFX tool.

With WeatherFX, the company has been able to identify correlations, such as a link between three below-average temperature days in Chicago and an increase in beer sales soon after, for example, and then help brewers plan their marketing schedules. The tool has been able to help marketers identify when they should promote certain products based not only on current weather conditions but the forecast for upcoming days.

As a subsidiary of IBM, Mr. Steinberg said The Weather Company will be able to build more solutions for marketers to make smarter decisions utilizing weather and location.

Weather Company will license the data tools back to Weather Channel, allowing the network to leverage the same technology as the digital assets, Mr. Steinberg said.

For its part, the TV network has been refocusing its efforts in recent months, upping its weather coverage and building an upcoming over-the-top service. It moved Sam Champion out of his morning show and announced plans to replace reality shows with more weather-related programming and cut production costs.