Embracing the chill: how brands can cash in on winter weather woes

British winter weather. We all know it, and we all hate it - driving rain, biting frosts, and evenings spent huddled under the duvet. But as consumers are holed up inside wishing they were sunning themselves on an exotic beach, advertisers should be aware of the lucrative opportunities that exist to cash in on weather-induced shopping.

At The Trade Desk, we recently looked into consumer receptiveness to advertising during last year’s cold snaps, with some interesting revelations.

Consumers shop as the temperature drops

When temperatures dropped just shy of freezing (0.6 degrees celsius) on the night of 1st December last year, click-through rates for family and parenting-related ads rose by 113%, compared to average.

Meanwhile, engagement with style and fashion brands’ ads soared by almost three times (up 196%), likely the result of shivering shoppers seeking to upgrade their winter wardrobes.

But it was travel brands that enjoyed the greatest uplift in engagement during that particular cold snap. With temperatures hovering around the icy two-degree mark from 29th November until 2nd December, click-through rates for travel-related ads were almost four times (386%) higher than average.

It’s easy to understand why; with a maximum temperature of a chilly 2.8 degrees, I’m sure many of us were pining wistfully for our next holiday in the sun.

It wasn’t just these verticals that saw a rise; home and garden brands also saw an increase in engagement when temperatures plummeted as low as minus six degrees on the evening of 10th December 2017. Click-through rates for these ads rocketed by 104%, with the freezing weather perhaps prompting consumers to stock up on the likes of extra blankets and electric radiators as they slipped into hibernation mode.

Cashing in on weather fronts

Now, if you know that consumers are going to be most receptive to an ad for a Bali beach holiday or flights to Cancun when the temperature drops to 2 degrees, why not engage with them when cold weather strikes? And it doesn’t just have to be cold weather, either – tuning into temperature, whether it’s hot or cold, can make ad spend more efficient and effective. Think serving ads for swimming trunks and sunglasses when a heatwave hits.

With spring still painfully far away, we can expect to feel a few more frosts before the sun comes out to play. But whatever the weather in the coming weeks, here are three tips on how to make the most of temperature targeting.

Be flexible with your budget

Although we love to plan in advance – and it’s crucial to campaign success - it’s always worth setting aside a slice of your budget that will allow you to react to external factors such as the weather.

This means that when we’re alerted about an approaching weather front like a cold snap or heatwave, you’ve got some cash in the pot to target this fruitful audience – and the opportunity won’t be missed.

Which channel and when?

It’s also essential to consider the most appropriate channels for your campaign, and when to use them. When the temperature drops, consumers are likely to be curled up at home using desktops and connected TV, rather than mobiles on the go.

So, make sure you’re using your budget to locate the right users, at the right time, and in the right place – or your creative efforts will go to waste.

Over-targeting can be detrimental

While it’s good to be focused, going overboard can harm your campaign. By plugging into multiple exchanges, brands can access huge audiences – but the more layers you add, the harder it is to scale your audience, especially when it comes to temperature targeting. It pays to be realistic about the segments you need to maximise the number of consumers you can engage with.

Although cold snaps might not be the most obvious way to spend your ad budget, our findings reveal how lucrative it can be to incorporate external factors such as the weather into campaign strategies.

With more winter weather yet to come, there are big opportunities for brands to inspire consumers dreaming of everything from sunnier shores to cosier homes. And it’ll be the nimble brands that think smartly about their campaigns and embrace our unpredictable Great British Weather who’ll enjoy the biggest payoffs.

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