Mike Isaac

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With New Weather Channel Deal, Twitter Aims to Make It Rain for Brands

Forecast: Cloudy, with a chance of promoted tweets.

Aiming to attract more big-brand ad dollars, Twitter and the Weather Company have a new deal to create custom content around weather-related Twitter activity.

Twitter users will be able to see video clips of local forecasts, severe-weather coverage or user-generated content. But instead of requiring a link out to other websites, users can view the video within the Twitter stream, using the company’s “Cards” technology.

It’s similar to Twitter’s partnership with ESPN last year, where Twitter users were able to watch instant replays of college football, tweeted out from the official ESPN account. In that case, Twitter sold ad space to Ford, who played a short promo clip for the Ford Fusion automobile before each sports replay.

This time, however, it’s Twitter’s first foray into having non-sports branded-content partnerships, aiming to appeal to a larger audience of Twitter users and advertisers.

“There’s nothing more real-time than weather, and there’s no better real-time communication platform than Twitter,” said Joel Lunenfeld, Twitter VP of global brand strategy.

The idea is that if everyone is talking about a big weather event — like, say, Hurricane Sandy — Twitter can hone in on that flurry of activity and use it to serve up relevant promoted content to users who want to see it.

The trick for Twitter and TWC, of course, is to convince big brands to open those ad budgets up to the type of marketing that Twitter is offering. Twitter’s claim here is that it will boost engagement and reach and increase audience size. But as with any relatively new ad medium, it’ll take some convincing to get the brands to come around.

The Weather Channel, for one, is obviously bullish on Twitter’s ability to sell. “You can only go in and talk about price and ratings so much,” said Curt Hecht, chief global revenue officer for The Weather Company. “The media buying community will see this as a different kind of innovating, leveraging another platform.”

I take it that we’ll see if that’s the case. For now, I’ll be watching for storm clouds.

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