Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Weather Channel's innovative mobile advertising; app uses its most valuable real estate for an advertising

It is no secret that I am no fan of paid content strategies that try and minimize the reliance on advertising. For me revenue is revenue and throwing away on revenue channel to rely solely on another seems like a foolish strategy. It's a bit like the guy who puts the pea under the cups and begins moving them around, only this time he openly puts a pea in all three cups then asks you which cup has the pea... and you hesitate to decide which cup to pick.

For many newspapers (and magazines, too) who have launched mobile apps, the general way advertising is handled is to include a banner ad, often from an ad network. It is a lazy way to think about how to monetize one's mobile apps.

The Weather Channel is trying to come up with new ad solutions and one that is being employed today goes a long way in explaining why it recently decided to stop using animated wallpapers in its apps. Those gorgeous looking backgrounds may be missed, but it is obvious TWC thought it was real estate too valuable to simply give away to the designers.

The backgrounds of the page which shows the current temperature is usually the first page the app user sees. Today an ad from The Home Depot is used as the "wallpaper" behind the temperature. The background stays, even when moving from city to city (as you can see at left), but is gone once the user moves on to the 48 hour forecast or ten-day forecast. (The TWC's mobile media kit can be found here.)

This is smart stuff, and should give inventive ad directors something to chew on. What is your most valuable real estate in your app, and can you use it in an nonintrusive way for advertising. If not, then the creation of this kind of page might be the next option.

(By the way, the iPad app for TWC still is using attractive wallpapers, using a more traditional banner ad approach for the advertising.)