• June 2, 2016

IBM's The Weather Company to Launch Watson Ads

The Weather Compan, which was acquired by IBM in the fall, today announced Watson Ads, which will enable consumers to interact with IBM's Watson cognitive computing system through advertising. Ad viewers will be able to ask questions via voice or text and receive relevant information about the product or offering portrayed in the ad.

Watson Ads willl be the first consumer use of IBM Watson technology for advertising purposes.

IBM Watson can understand natural language, reason, learn, and interact with humans. Leveraging Watson technology, Watson Ads will help marketers do the following:

  • Better understand brand perception and favorability;
  • Help consumers make more informed decisions at point of consideration;
  • Aid product information;
  • Inform and optimize creative strategies; and
  • Use data more effectively.

"The dawn of cognitive advertising is truly a watershed moment. Now as part of IBM, we have even more tools and technologies at our disposal to inspire innovations within advertising, artificial intelligence, and storytelling," said Domenic Venuto, general manager of consumer products at The Weather Company, in a statement. "This is a huge opportunity to expose consumers to all of the surprising and delightful experiences that Watson has in store for them and to make advertising a truly valuable interaction for both our fans and our marketing partners, which is always our goal."

When viewing Watson Ads, consumers will be able to ask Watson questions via voice or text about the product or offering, and Watson's machine learning and natural language capabilities will allow it to provide accurate responses.

Additionally, Watson Ads will benefit from weather data provided by The Weather Company, which will be factored into query responses, whether that be historical data, current conditions like temperature, precipitatio,n or the current weather forecast,.

"Transforming ourselves and industries is part of The Weather Company DNA," said Jeremy Steinberg, global head of sales at The Weather Company, in a statement. "We've embraced big data and leveraged it to improve every aspect of our business, from forecast accuracy to ad targeting. Now we've set our sights on cognition. We believe human interaction is the new search and that cognitive advertising is the next frontier in marketing, and we're leading the charge to make it a reality."

To advance the industry, The Weather Company intends to create the Watson Ads Council, in which the company will work closely with a team of marketers who will act as a sounding board for the latest innovations leveraging Watson Ads and cognitive advancements in advertising. As the first brand marketers signed on for Watson Ads, Campbell Soup, Unilever, and GSK Consumer Healthcare all plan to participate in the Watson Ads Council.

"Our members will help us learn how to best leverage cognitive computing, machine learning, and natural language generation and processing. They'll help us drive the industry and lead the direction for how cognition can improve advertising," said Steinberg.

"While in this increasingly cluttered world it is getting harder and harder to break through and engage people, technology is helping to find ways to connect with more relevant content," said Keith Weed, chief marketing and communications officer at Unilever, in a statement. "This will help us to create better, more engaging content that matches our consumers' interests and unique preferences."

"We are excited that consumers will be able to engage directly with Chef Watson for meal ideas," said Marci Raible, director of global media and marketing services at Campbell Soup , in a statement. "Chef Watson will take into account a person's local weather, time of day, and location as well as ingredients they have on hand to offer tried and tested recipes from Campbell's Kitchen. Using the data to offer quick and easy meal solutions in real time is exactly the experience we are looking to drive with consumers."

"Cognition humanizes the use of data as we move from intent-based advertising to actual one-to-one interacting. It also gives consumers easy access to information to make better decisions about their healthcare in real time," said Theresa Agnew, chief marketing officer at GSK Consumer Healthcare, in a statement. "We have produced a number of successful campaigns with Weather and value their steadfast commitment to creating a quality advertising and consumer engagement experience for their fans."

Watson Ads will launch first exclusively across The Weather Company properties, which include weather.com, Weather Underground, and WSI.

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