The Weather Company Poaches Thomson Reuters' Vikram Somaya to Run New Division
The Weather Company, formerly the Weather Channel, is adding another ad-tech heavyweight with the hiring of Vikram Somaya from Thomson Reuters.
Mr. Somaya, an outspoken regular on the ad-tech-industry circuit, will helm the general manager role of a newly created division called WeatherFX, which will be charged with creating products that give advertisers the ability to target ads to specific neighborhoods and alter what those ads say as weather conditions change.
Mr. Somaya will report to Curt Hecht, the Publicis veteran who joined the Weather Company earlier this year as global chief revenue officer. In January, the company hired Publicis vet David Kenny as chief executive officer.
At Thomson Reuters, Mr. Somaya oversaw a team of about 25 employees and was responsible for ad operations and analytics. He also helped the company come up with its strategy for selling online ad space to advertisers looking to reach subsets of its readership through automated mechanisms, including real-time bidding; he said that such ad purchases accounted for 30% of total ad revenue just nine months after launch.
With the Weather Company, Mr. Somaya said he and his team will look to give chief marketing officers the tools to easily alter their marketing messages on the fly as weather conditions shift in certain parts of the world. The goal will be to help them place those ads on Weather Company properties and elsewhere on the web.
The company is already doing a bit of this, but Mr. Somaya will be tasked with building out a team to prioritize the data and targeting products that would be attractive to the broadest set of marketers. Mr. Somaya will also have a hand in expanding the company's data-licensing business.
Mr. Somaya said he was attracted to the company because of its new executive leadership and the uniqueness of its dataset.
"The only other dataset in the industry that I think compares (to Thomson Reuters) has been Weather's dataset, mainly because I think it's universally applicable," he said. "Weather always has some impact; it's just where to prioritize."
The Weather Company reinvigoration has not come without tumult. The company recently laid off 75 employees, or about 7% of its staff.