Local, The Weather Network

There’s Something About Weather; It’s Time to Get Hyperlocal

Like most Canadians my life is greatly influenced by weather. Knowing the forecast helps me make decisions on what I need to wear, what to pack when I travel and where to select a vacation destination. On the business side, I have always been fascinated with weather because it is one of those really boring businesses (nothing sexy about it), has high user frequency and is a pretty decent way to sell targeted advertising.

In fact, after I sold KS2 Solutions in 2005 I almost joined Pelmorex (known for TheWeatherNetwork.com or MetroMedia.com) to head up their sales in Western Canada. I ultimately decided to join Yellow Pages Group in early 2006. In January 2010 I ended up striking a partnership between YellowPages.ca and TheWeatherNetwork.com, read the post here – The Weather Network add Local Search and YellowPages.ca adds Weather – A Deeper Look at this Partnership.

Bottom line – weather has been an important part of my business and personal life.

My latest venture into weather is an investment in a new Montreal based start-up that is taking precipitation forecasting to a hyperlocal level, called SkyMotion Research. You can learn more about the company at SlideShare. They recently had some write-ups in popular blogs, check them out here:

TUAW –
Sky Motion for iOS lets you know what weather is coming on a very local basis

The Verge –
Sky Motion’s up-to-the-minute weather tracking app comes to the web

Mobile Syrup –
SkyMotion launches mobile web app to predict hyperlocal precipitation

Currently the application is iOS based with an Android version coming soon. See screenshot below which was a short-term forecast at my office in Calgary. You can download the iOS app here. You can also play with the online version at SkyMotion’s website, just enter your address.

SkyMotion

I can definitely say that I am not alone when it comes to the importance of weather. Exactly how big is the weather market in Canada? Here are some stats you might find interesting.

In May 2012, according to ComScore Media Metrix there where 27.4M Canadians who used the internet. Of that, 11M or 40.3% of Canadians accessed a Weather Site in Canada and collectively generated 264M pages viewed. The top 5 accessed sites by Canadians are:

The Weather Network, 9M (81.8% of category)
Environment Canada, 1.6M (14.5%)
The Weather Channel, 940K (8.5%)
AccuWeather, 408k (3.7%)
Weather Underground, 382k (3.5%)

As a comparison to the US market, in May 2012 there where 221.1M Americans online. Of that, 80.8M or 36.6% of Americans accessed a Weather site and collectively generated 2B pages viewed. The top 5 accessed sites by Americans are:

The Weather Channel, 49.8M (61.6% of category)
WeatherBug, 20.9M (25.87%)
Weather Underground, 9.8M (12.1%)
AccuWeather, 7.8M (9.7%)
Yahoo! Weather, 7.5M (9.3%)

A couple interesting things of note in the above data: Canadians are slightly over-indexed in terms of the amount of the population that accesses weather and both markets are dominated by 1 player, although more competitive in the US.

What about mobile?

Here is a pretty telling graph about mobile users who access weather in Canada.

The number of Canadian’s who are accessing weather at least once per month on a mobile device is up from 5.4M in June 2011 to 7.8M in June 2012 – that’s a 2.4M jump in 12-months. Users accessing weather on a daily basis is up from 2.2M to 3.2M in the same timeframe. Impressive growth to say the least.

So from a mobile perspective in Canada, who are the top 5?

TheWeatherNetwork, 3.3M
Yahoo! Weather, 1.3M
AccuWeather, 1M
OTHER, 676k
Environment Canada, 657k

What I find most interesting about the mobile data is that the ranking in the top players differ from the web. Weather like many categories in mobile is changing the landscape of who are the top players in their respective market. This is a discussion for another blog post.

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