The Weather Channel is going all in on shopping

Weather apps are changing up how they track you. Get ready for a ton of weather-based ads.


September 18, 2020

Do snow flurries make you inexplicably hangry for truffle fries? The Weather Channel probably knows.

The app, which has ~45m monthly users, is fresh off a lawsuit with the city of Los Angeles for secretly selling location data to advertisers. The main consequence: the Weather Channel now has to disclose that your data is going to a 3rd party.

But now the Weather Channel app is changing how it’s tracking you. Instead of following people with tracking cookies, it’s trying to learn how the weather shapes shopping habits.

Get ready for weather-based ads

The Weather Channel can micro-target how small weather changes impact what a population buys in the aggregate, then sell that info to marketers.

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Let’s say the channel learns that rainy weather is the No. 1 driver of Balenciaga Crocs sales.

Crocs would love to know about it. So when a certain region gets a forecast for rain, Crocs could do a location-based marketing blitz.

Some of the Weather Channel’s early findings:

  • Sales of baking chocolate in states like Kansas and Missouri jumped 62% during a rainy forecast.
  • Wine sales went up 25% in Michigan and Illinois when clear weather hit.

Weather apps are a data-collection mess

Some of them are pretty careful with personal data. Dark Sky, which Apple recently acquired, has said that it will never share location data to 3rd parties or data monetization companies.

But most other apps aren’t. Accuweather, for instance, has been known to sell location data even when the app isn’t active.

The Weather Channel’s pivot is one way forward. Instead of tracking individuals, now the app can look at spending patterns across a population.

Is that better for privacy? Maybe slightly. But next time it thunders, brace yourself for an onslaught of Crocs ads.

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