The weather has been a big story this year, and forecasting services like AccuWeather have been more necessary than ever. In fact, AccuWeather has become the most popular website in the U.S. as people check it (and its award-winning app) to find out what’s up with the weather.
Its biggest challenge—how to continue building its global presence, digital touchpoints and relationships with consumers based on something it can’t control—the weather? In the wake of celebrating AccuWeather’s 55th anniversary on September 26, we spoke with John Dokes (right), Chief Marketing Officer and AccuWeather Network GM (and accomplished jazz musician), about audience-building, engagement, personalization, Spotify-ing the weather and more.
John, everyone needs to know current weather conditions and the forecast, and there are a number of brands that offer both. Why should AccuWeather be the go-to source for weather information and analysis?
Simply put, users rely on AccuWeather because we provide the most accurate forecasts and warnings available; we have broad reach; and we communicate important information clearly so people can make decisions with insight. Recently, in the most comprehensive global study ever undertaken of 30 million forecasts by an independent industry tracker, AccuWeather was confirmed as the most accurate source for forecasts in all categories—temperature, precipitation and wind.
We receive and process 32 billion API data requests for personalized weather forecasts and warnings with Superior Accuracy every day from locations all over the world. Users check AccuWeather forecasts while on the go, multiple times per day, on a variety of platforms including our award-winning apps; on television, watches and wearables; and through other emerging platforms such as connected car and home devices, as well as from over 180,000 websites.
As you might have seen during the recent historic devastation of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, AccuWeather continues to lead in the weather category, communicating critical information to keep people safe.
How are you personalizing your data and forecasts in order to better serve users?
We understand that our users need the most accurate weather forecasts and warnings based on their specific location, and we give that to them, but we’ve also partnered with some of the leaders in their respective fields to bring personalized, relevant weather data to consumers in more innovative ways than ever before.
For example, just this year we partnered with Swirl to introduce the industry’s first integration of weather and indoor location data to enable retailers and brands to drive the highest in-aisle contextual relevance in mobile. By targeting content based on verified indoor locations, as well as weather conditions near a particular store, marketers can deliver more relevant communications that drive higher levels of performance. For example, on days when pollen and allergen counts are forecasted to rise, a pharmacy chain can alert in-store shoppers to the upcoming weather condition and provide information and special offers on allergy relief products to shoppers in the medicine aisle.
We announced that our award-winning Android app is now available through AppLink™ on the Ford SYNC 3 in-car communications and entertainment system. The AccuWeather Android app helps drivers plan and time their trips, warns them in advance of inclement weather, and provides timely weather conditions for safer and better travels.
We also announced our partnership with the music streaming service Spotify on a new site titled Climatune, to give music fans around the world insights into how the weather around them affects the music they listen to everyday, providing the perfect musical score for any weather.
What did you learn from your time at highly emotional brands like Marvel Entertainment and MTV that you have been able to bring to AccuWeather?
During my time at MTV Networks, we were pushing the boundaries of innovation in media. I took a lot of that energy and enthusiasm back to Marvel, where we were able to make great strides in bringing digital advancement to the house of ideas.
I’ve always tried to create new circumstances that were a little bit different than what I had before—even within entertainment. I just look at things from a different angle and try to figure out ways to do something that can expand my experience and allow me to create new opportunities for my company and our partners. When I rejoined Marvel the expansion of their digital business was a natural fit for me.
This amazing harvest moon was captured with timelapse video rising over Scituate, Massachusetts, on October 5. pic.twitter.com/mH57RX9RAC
— AccuWeather (@accuweather) October 9, 2017
I always try to figure out how can I continue to live to my potential and what’s going to challenge me next. I came on board at AccuWeather as CMO, and I’ve expanded my role to include GM of the AccuWeather Network. That’s a step that I’m digging into now. I’m enjoying that process. And because at AccuWeather we are on a mission to keep people safe and minimize risk and loss to business to the tune of millions or even billions of dollars, that’s a responsibility we take very seriously. It’s difficult to separate emotion from such potential serious impacts.
How does the brand strike a balance between personalization (and location-sharing) and privacy?
AccuWeather takes its users’ privacy concerns seriously and is committed to maintaining the highest level of compliance, protection and transparency. We go above and beyond digital industry privacy standards, including those of the Mobile Marketing Association and the Digital Advertising Alliance Self-Regulatory Principles of Online Behavioral Advertising. Enabling Location Services allows AccuWeather to know your current location and, with this, we pinpoint your weather request and provide severe weather alerts at your location.
What’s the forecast for AccuWeather, beyond sharing and tracking the weather?
At AccuWeather, we’re constantly pushing ourselves to find new and innovative ways to bring the weather, and its impact, to both businesses and consumers. For us, evolving our technologies and products in ways that continue to help people make informed decisions about the protection of their people, property and profits—ultimately helping to save lives—is our main goal.
You heard about some of this with the launch of our partnerships with Swirl, Spotify and Ford within the last year, but we’re not stopping there. Our first-of-its-kind Zika Map gives consumers insight into the risk of Zika all throughout the U.S., based on key weather factors that can contribute to the need for necessary precautions.
Weather impacts everything we do, so the possibilities for future innovations are limitless and that keeps the work very exciting.
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