60's something weather junkie
By: timmib , 10:03 AM GMT on March 04, 2011
Some citations apropo to the 'New' look:
http://www.portfolio.com/companies-executives/201 1/02/02/weather-underground-relaunches-wundergroun d-site
"Given the Groundhog Day hook, it makes sense that this is when Wunderground.com gets its big unveil. The site is going from a dense and cluttered look full of charts and data to a more user-friendly and attractive design to appeal to a larger segment of weather watchers without alienating its core users.
“We’ve taken this time to bring new innovations to weather, and we’re happy to be launching our personal weather-station network with forecasts,” said Chuck Prewitt, the company’s vice president for business development.
Wunderground.com is clearly looking to capture a larger chunk of the online weather space, but it faces a potent opponent with Weather.com, the Web companion for The Weather Channel. Weather.com boasts an audience of more than 42 million unique users. The industry leader in weather information has a few built-in advantages-it's the preloaded weather app on iPhones, it's connected to a big media company with significant resources, and it has the easiest online name to remember.
Prewitt and Richard Lowden, vice president for sales at Weather Underground, don't seem that worried. They cited figures from Quantcast that had Wunderground.com reaching 21.4 million unique visitors worldwide, with 16.4 million of them from the United States. According to Quantcast, the weather sites stack up this way: Weather.com is first and is the 22nd most trafficked site overall and is followed by Wunderground.com (58th), WeatherBug.com (75th), and AccuWeather.com (91st).
What separates the work of Weather Underground from its competitors, Prewitt and Lowden said, is where the company gets its information. Like the other weather sites, Weather Underground uses data from the National Weather Service and other sources like airports. But, unlike the others, according to Prewitt, it relies on a worldwide network of 19,000 active private weather stations that are outfitted with the company’s software. (By comparison, Weather.com advertises a patented and proprietary system called TruPoint that analyzes data from multiple sources and boasts that it can give the user a forecast within a mile of a stated location.)
“This was crowdsourcing before crowdsourcing was even known as a term,” Lowden said. “We’re giving people the opportunity to share the information with their neighbors. We’ve built up a robust community.”"
"For the relaunch, Wunderground tore apart the site's entire information architecture and started from scratch. The new site features much more white space, and all local weather information can be found on a single long page. "I don't want to have to click through a bunch of different pages to get to what I want," said Lowden. Local weather can be exported live to a user's desktop via widgets called "weather stickers.""
"On the advertising side, Wunderground has partnered with Dapper, an ad technology firm acquired by Yahoo in 2010, to allow clients to feature products in display ads based on current weather conditions. For example, when temperatures dip unexpectedly in Miami, a retail advertiser's unit could automatically feature cold-weather clothes.
Wunderground has also partnered with Nielsen Claritas and Quantcast to provide more granular targeting capabilities for advertisers based on demographics, behavior and geography.
To enhance its search performance, Wunderground has struck deals to provide weather information to the Associated Press and other branded content sites. Those partnerships export Wunderground's brand and creates valuable trackbacks.
Wunderground doesn't yet offer video advertising, said Lowden, but is hoping to shortly. The site maintains a 12-person direct-sales team."
Was the Weather Forecast Right? Wunderground Will Tell You
"Executives from weather forecasting site the Weather Underground said that the site will try something that weather forecasters have never done before: show how often they were right.
That particular feature was supposed to have been part of the Wunderground redesign that launched this week, which added weather predictions from its crowdsourced data to its services. The site pulls weather data from over 13,000 sites in the United States, which are assessed through a quality-control algorithm to make sure their information is accurate, said Toby Skinner, the site's director of marketing.
"We all know that weather forecasting is not an exact science," Skinner said. One way to improve the accuracy is to cross-verify forecasts through the use of more data, and that's where the additional weather stations come in.
Now, the site is relying more on its local weather reporting stations to provide more localized weather forecasts. Users and other interested parties can sign up on the site.
"We have more data points than any other source, so we have the best-equipped verification of any forecasting model," Skinner said. Users can graphically view a map of the site's weather stations using its Wundermap, which shows a number of them for any geographic region.
The additional points come in handy for a region like the San Francisco Bay Area, known for its multitude of microclimates, where the weather can drastically change, with a swing of as much as 20 to 30 degrees from inland areas to the foggy coast.
How important is accurate weather forecasting, really? In certain areas, users get upset about inaccuracies of even a few degrees, Skinner said.
That's why in the next few weeks, Wunderground will list a figure showing how well the site predicted the weather for each individual weather station, based on the predicted high temperature for each station versus the actual daily high. Data will be collated for a two- to three-week period, Skinner said. "We think we're creating a unique level of transparency," he said.
"We're currently running in beta, just showing the high temperature," Skinner said. "But we're currently looking at ways to improve. People want more information."
Wunderground is also working on a complete reworking of its mobile apps for the iPhone, Android OS, and BlackBerry, Skinner added. "
The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.
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