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Q&A: What brands can learn from AccuWeather?s hyper-localized mobile messaging

As brands continue tapping into the full potential of location-based targeting, AccuWeather advises marketers to incorporate five key best practices into their messaging strategies, including using short-form videos, building digital communities and providing geo-located contextual information.

AccuWeather is focused on bridging the gap between the physical and digital worlds by leveraging hyper-local messaging that offers consumers real-time weather updates, an animated radar, videos related to mobile users? exact locations and other snackable content. The geolocation-based nature of the company?s content also makes it an attractive promotional medium for advertisers, as they are able to ensure their ads are viewed by consumers in a specific geographic radius.

To optimize its mobile experiences for its audience and advertising partners, AccuWeather relies on what it calls the five Cs of its digital media strategy: content, context, consumable, community and connectivity. Brands interested in revamping their mobile messaging tactics this year should consider these tactics and prepare to navigate a slew of new digital trends, including dispersing short-form videos and promoting two-way conversation with individuals.

In an interview with Mobile Marketer, Trish Mikita, vice president of digital media strategy at AccuWeather, shares how her company leverages hyper-localized strategies and what AccuWeather has in store for later this year.

How does AccuWeather?s hyper-localized messaging strategy take into account users? preferences and needs?
At AccuWeather, we understand that hyper-local communications tailored to each and every one of our users worldwide is imperative to provide a personalized and contextually relevant digital experience. We?ve continued to expand our vast international presence and, with it, new messaging innovations to meet user demand at scale. 

Our partnership with Rubric, a global leader in language translation and localization services, helps AccuWeather to meet user preferences and needs for breaking weather information and updates across over 100 languages and dialects, in addition to custom user interfaces and displays. Combining Rubric?s localization resource support with AccuWeather?s comprehensive global weather data and vast cross-platform reach allows us to hyper-localize messaging by country, region, and local area.

Why is this so important? Weather terms vary from country to country and region to region, from the relative meaning of the word ?hot? to the way temperatures and dates are displayed. In English we might say ?It?s hot out today,? for example, but that becomes much more complicated in, say, Arabic, where hot weather is clarified by factors like humidity.

Additionally, different languages can display differently on user interfaces, where text could potentially run across dialog boxes or have limited visibility on a device. It is also not so easy to say that there will be a ?Chance for a flurry? in Polish, because the translated term ? ?Prawdopodobie?stwo lekkich opadów ?niegu? ? might be too long to conveniently and effectively display on a mobile app. Understanding users? preferences and priorities in preferred, localized ways that they want to engage with us allows us to communicate with them in the most impactful ways, ensuring our personalized message helps their lives.

What are some best practices that AccuWeather has used to deliver the right message to consumers around the world?
To ensure that companies deliver the right message to consumers globally on mobile, I recommend what I call the 5 Cs of digital media strategy that highlight top practices in key areas that matter most.

Content: For consumers, the most important thing is to get the most accurate information ? trusted, unique content is the currency of digital communications. A great forum to do so is mobile video, which is growing exponentially and remains in high demand because people are drawn to visual storytelling in an engaging, interactive video format.

Context: Being able to provide information into contextual communications that are helpful for the user at their exact moment is crucial. A specific example of the power of context is AccuWeather MinuteCast ? AccuWeather?s exclusive hyper-localized minute-by-minute precipitation forecast that is pinpointed to a user?s exact street or GPS location. What do users need right here, right now, based on what is going on in the moment? AccuWeather continually reviews and strengthens the context of breaking weather information to ensure communication relevancy and impact.

Consumable: The average person?s attention span has fallen from twelve seconds in the year 2000 to eight seconds in 2015. Content must be ?snackable? ? meaning it?s fast, intuitive, and easy to understand. For example, short-form videos are easily consumable, giving them top priority in a competitive mobile environment. At AccuWeather, we?ve seen the results of this trend with video views up over 300 percent year-to-date.

Community: Enable and encourage users to join the conversation and become part of the mobile experience through their active participation and contributions. Building an active community by fostering two-way relationship-building and brand engagement will attract new users and turn existing ones into loyal ambassadors.

Connectivity: We remain connected through the world of digital throughout the day and night, from our mobile phone to smart TVs, connected cars, wearables, and much more. It is important not to approach each messaging solution in a silo but, rather, understand the unique and holistic digital journey of your audience across platforms, interactions, and activities during each moment of their life. This presents distinct opportunities to more closely resonate with consumer segments and informs the best way to communicate with them in their connected life, based on time of need.

What challenges has AccuWeather faced surrounding mobile messaging?
The critical need for highly relevant, immediately actionable content that is consumed in mere seconds within a mobile design space provides clear communication challenges and opportunities. AccuWeather has accelerated its test and learn focus in mobile, constantly conceptualizing, testing, and evaluating to ensure we are delivering the best-in-class weather experience. 

This is crucial today, as digital capabilities and user needs dramatically transform. AccuWeather remains at the forefront of weather innovation in mobile messaging by actively listening and rapidly responding to mobile users. 

Are there any learnings you can share regarding AccuWeather?s experiences with mobile advertising?
According to a recent global mobile research survey commissioned by AccuWeather among nearly 2,500 consumers in six global markets, checking the weather was one of the most frequent activities performed on smart phones, and was often the top activity.

This provides a significant opportunity for advertisers who seek to increase their brand awareness, consideration, and conversion through mobile platforms: Weather content is the preferred content on mobile. Advertisers turn to AccuWeather because of our brand equity, mobile leadership, and accurate weather information, with significant traffic gains and momentum that demonstrate the appeal of our mobile experience. 

AccuWeather?s trusted content, combined with the ability to intelligently target users through the use of unique big weather data capabilities, including user segmentation, location, and breaking local weather information, drives marketing campaign results for advertisers.

What new mobile marketing and advertising strategies will AccuWeather leverage in 2016?
In 2016, we will continue to expand user interest through our differentiated multi-platform reach, driving new levels of recognition for the AccuWeather brand across platforms including digital, television, radio, newspapers, the new 24/7 AccuWeather Network, emerging platforms, and more. AccuWeather also works with over 240 of Fortune 500 companies and thousands more to extend our reach, another endorsement that we are a company that people trust.

Category-changing mobile innovation is also a key strategy and continued focus for AccuWeather, providing a future-forward mobile weather experience to users worldwide. We recently launched AccUcast, increasing engagement as users can now share their local weather information and conditions as a global weather community, an example of one of many dynamic new features we are providing.

Expansion in social media to further amplify the AccuWeather brand ? one part of a comprehensive and fully integrated marketing plan ? is another focus area for us. AccuWeather has led the weather category in social media growth rates, outpacing industry benchmarks due to the high appeal of our weather information and updates, in addition to industry-leading use of social engagement features like promotions and partnership events. 

Fans clearly want to engage with our brand and help us spread the word, keeping friends and family safe ? we see a powerful opportunity to build community through social media. 

How do you expect mobile advertising to evolve as a whole this year?
We?re seeing a movement to a new level of hyper-personalization, given the dramatic expansion and proliferation of digital platforms ? each with a customized user experience, design configurations, and expectations ? and proprietary big data and analytics capabilities to inform advertising strategies to become more targeted than ever before.

AccuWeather has addressed these needs by providing the next generation of pinpointed localization capabilities for advertisers through D3: Data Driven Decisions. AccuWeather also continues to deliver the most personalized weather experience that users need in mobile ? wherever they are, when ever they need us, on any device, across languages and dialects ? attracting advertiser interest due to the customized user experience we provide.  

AccuWeather MinuteCast is a great example of a hyper-personalized experience for advertisers ? minute-by-minute precipitation at your precise, exact location.

What is the number one takeaway or piece of advice that AccuWeather would offer other companies attempting to navigate the mobile advertising space?
Develop strategic marketing partnerships with publishers who provide high demand content and value for your targeted consumers, and clearly understand and lead in the mobile space. Digital leaders like AccuWeather will provide a long-term partnership and innovation with their established leadership and expertise, collaborating to provide new advertising solutions in a rapidly changing mobile landscape that will produce results.