David Kenny of CEO The Weather Company: You Have to Reinvent Content For Mobile

Publishers looking to get into the app business should not just adapt their online content for the mobile web, argued David Kenny, chairman/CEO of The Weather Company, said in a keynote interview at the AppNation conference in New York this morning.

“It is a big mistake to think it works like the web, it is a very different experience,” he said. “They are checking the weather six times a day. Our mobile users are  making decisions on the fly, you’ve got to flow into that.”

Kenny ought to know. The Weather Channel’s apps have been downloaded 106 million times and the business is growing, and the company’s mobile business is the fastest growing part of its business both in usage and in monetization. The company employs about a hundred mobile engineers to develop and improve mobile products every day.  The company feeds their weather forecasts into 15,000 other apps including Facebook.Location data is one asset that makes apps different than other channels. The user may be looking at the weather to plan their day and activities and to do so they allow the app to access their location. This is an asset for advertisers.  “All weather is consumed locally, location is big for advertisers,” said Kenny. “No one is afraid to share their location.”

The Weather Channel app is taking advantage of all of the advertising potential offered by apps. The company worked with its top 30 advertisers to build out mobile ad units that work more like search. Advertisers can say that they want to target an offer in affluent neighborhoods on rainy days or mid market neighborhoods on sunny days, and based on the user’s location and the weather, an ad will run.

The company is also testing geofencing at events and offering advertisers special ad units based on specific locations so that an advertiser can buy a sponsorship of a particular event, say at Meadowlands or  Yankee Stadium. “We know you check the weather there, sometimes it is before the game on your way… it is before and during” said Kenny. “It tends to be the same companies that have sponsored the event.”