Twitter is more than just a place where journalists complain about each other and the world: it’s a tool made to help its users better understand the world around them. (If I were Twitter I might describe that as “chronicling the zeitgeist” but I’m not a little blue bird or an asshole, so I’ll pass on that.) Many of the little snippets of information shared to the service every day are about locally relevant information, from breaking news events to traffic jams to the weather.
The Weather Company wants to sell advertisements against that data, so today it announced a partnership with Twitter that will allow it to advertise products to the social network’s users based on their location and the current weather. The company says in its announcement that this tool could be used to advertise snacks to people in cold regions or recipes to people who have abandoned all hope of dining out because of the rain or snow.
The motivation behind this partnership was explained with the understatement of the year. “People experience the weather that don’t use our properties, so this enables us to connect with them elsewhere,” the Weather Company’s chief global revenue officer, Curt Hecht, told the Wall Street Journal. “Our clients keep asking us to go off-property.” Weather affecting people who don’t watch the Weather Channel or use the company’s online services. Who knew?
It makes sense for Twitter to form partnerships like this. The company is all about providing little snippets of information that, when taken together, offer a complete snapshot of its users’ lives. Selling advertisements against that information will likely be a more effective strategy than merely showing promoted tweets based on users’ hashtag usage or the people they follow.
Now we’ll just have to hope that advertisers don’t start trying to sell products to Twitter users who are live-tweeting a significant event. Imagine being bombarded by advertisements for fire extinguishers while tweeting about a burning building in San Francisco, or a broom and dust bin after tweeting about an earthquake. (And yes, people often tweet about exactly those things.) That might be a little too opportunistic even for the least ethical of advertisers.
[art by Hallie Bateman]