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Can Better Weather Forecasting Help Business Locations Boost Foot-Traffic?

'Anyone can sell an umbrella in the rain,' says xAd CEO Dipanshu Sharma. 'But how will a week of high humidity or air pressure help or hurt foot traffic and sales? We can bridge that gap.'

Severe weather accounted for more than a $50 billion loss to the U.S. economy, location marketplace xAd estimates.

Now that it has integrated the meteorological info service Weatherbug, which it acquired last fall, xAd is attempting to make its case to marketers that it can help brick-and-mortar businesses take advantage of weather shifts thanks to its combined location intelligence and weather forecasting data.

“Anyone can sell an umbrella in the rain,” says xAd CEO Dipanshu Sharma. “But how will a week of high humidity or air pressure help or hurt foot traffic and sales? We bridge that gap for businesses by combining location and weather data insights to help brands anticipate and adjust to weather patterns that are less understood. We add predictability to unpredictable consumer behavior – which shifts as fast as the weather does – and so should marketing and resourcing.”

Weather On Location

xAd is touting its Weather Triggering tools alongside its guaranteed performance ad format, Cost Per Visit, which it rolled out last month for clients such as Applebee’s, The Home Depot, and others.

The location tech company’s embrace of weather data to enhance its geotargeting capabilities comes as rivals like Foursquare, Placed, Skyhook, NinthDecimal and others build up their respective foot-traffic attribution capabilities. Since weather can provide predictive clues to what consumers might do, the Weather Triggering gives xAd an additional point of differentiation from its competitors.

Nevertheless, it still faces competition by The Weather Company, the IBM-owned media and analytics provider that also powers the The Weather Channel’s consumer-facing digital platforms.

The fact that The Weather Company has been expanding its own location analytics with its WeatherFX platform to better target ads for brands such as GSK Consumer Healthcare’s Flonase in areas where there is significant allergy conditions.

And Now, The Foot Traffic Forecast

Foursquare has also been sharpening its own focus on understanding the connection between weather conditions and brick-and-mortar foot traffic. As the location intelligence company’s Sarah Spagnolo wrote at the end of last year, “There was a 40 percent drop in foot-traffic overall, but for those brave enough to literally weather-the-storm, alcohol seemed to be the major motivator. People were 27 percent more likely to visit liquor stores, 21 percent more likely to visit wine shops, and 14 percent more likely to visit bars.”

In xAd’s positioning, the use of meteorological data allows businesses to have a clearer “on-demand response” to shifting weather patterns, and therein better forecast foot traffic. “This ultimately helps brands to maximize their existing marketing budgets and optimize resources or potential profit no matter what way the wind blows,” Sharma says.

The Weather Trigging is modeled from xAd’s database of location and meteorologically influenced behaviors built off analysis of 600 million monthly users at 100 million “places of interest” on a monthly basis.

How Weather Works — Or Doesn’t — For Brick-And-Mortars

It doesn’t take data to conclude that bad weather impacts foot traffic behavior more than good weather.

But inclement conditions might mean stronger sales for some businesses. If those businesses can better anticipate foot traffic flows as a result, they can stay ahead of their competitors and make it rain in the positive sense.

Being able to pinpoint the impact good and bad weather has on brick-and-mortar visitation also provides some valuable insights.

An xAd analysis of regional weather visitation among retailers including Big Box, Casual Dining, Department/Clothing, Fast Casual, Grocery, Pharmacy, Quick Service Restaurant (QSR), Parks, Bars and Malls, found that overall visits are 9 percent lower on bad weather days, whereas visits are only 6 percent higher on good weather days.

Those percentages may seem small, but at time of intense competition among categories, as well as from e-commerce merchants and on-demand delivery services, the incremental amounts add up for local businesses.

For example, given the embattled state of department and Big Box retail, it’s worth knowing that category saw the biggest increase in foot traffic from good weather.

Still, as xAd also found, sometimes weather doesn’t mean a thing, as the grocery segment was the only category that did not see an increase on good weather days.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of GeoMarketing.com. A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.