Business challenge: COVID-19 information users can trust

The Weather Channel, which provides trusted weather information to more than 330 million users each month, recognized that it was difficult for its users to know which Coronavirus-related information they could trust and where to find that information.

Transformation: IBM Watson chatbot answers more than 2.6 million coronavirus-related questions

The Weather Channel reinforced its commitment to remain essential to consumers by utilizing IBM Watson Ads Builder technology to develop COVID-19 Q&A with Watson, an AI-powered chatbot deployed on its website and app to help consumers get answers to their most pressing COVID-19-related questions.

Results: IBM Watson ads drives new conversations

More than 400K

conversations over 3 months

2.6M+

total user inputs, with an average of 6 inputs per conversation

1 minute

average time spent engaging with the chatbot

Our mission at The Weather Channel is to help our users find accurate and relevant information in the moments that matter. That’s why we leveraged IBM Watson Ads Builder technology to develop the COVID-19 Q&A with Watson chatbot, helping consumers find answers to their most pressing COVID-19-related questions.

Krista Rouse, Head of Consumer Product, The Weather Company

Solution: A reliable and up-to-date IBM Watson chatbot

The Weather Channel leveraged its unparalleled location information and put the power of IBM’s cloud and AI technology to work by developing a COVID-19 hub across The Weather Channel digital properties, in order to reinforce its commitment to providing users access to the best information available.

This hub included local COVID-19 reports, an interactive tracker interface and an AI-powered chatbot called the COVID-19 Q&A with Watson. This was developed to complement the hub experience and help users find critical safety information.

The COVID-19 Q&A with Watson chatbot is a conversational marketing solution, developed in the IBM Watson Ads Builder platform and trained on up-to-date information from The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Worldwide Health Organization (WHO) to help consumers get answers to their most pressing COVID-19-related questions. At launch, the chatbot was trained on 87 topics. During the campaign, The Weather Channel added more than 40 new topics, based on events unfolding in realtime and user inputs.

Consumers could ask questions like, “How can I protect myself from COVID-19?”, “What are signs and symptoms?”, and “How can I safely run errands?” Consumers could also ask about cases by city and state, to get a deeper look at their local situation and check on loved one’s locations.

The conversation experience leverages IBM Watson-powered Natural Language Processing, Natural Language Understanding, and proprietary natural language generation technology to integrate the most up-to-date information from leading health agencies. IBM also engineered a custom web tool to monitor daily updates from the CDC and WHO sites.

We were able to take the insights from the chatbot conversations to better inform our editorial strategy. Trending topics and consumer questions changed throughout the extended phases of quarantine, so it allowed us to learn from our consumers and adjust our coverage in real-time.

Eric Zerkel, Managing Editor, The Weather Company

About The Weather Company

The Weather Company, an IBM Business, delivers more than 25 billion personalized and actionable forecasts globally each day to millions of consumers and thousands of marketers and businesses. It accomplishes this through Weather’s API, its business solutions division, and digital products from The Weather Channel and Weather Underground. Its products include the world’s most downloaded weather app, a network of 250,000 personal weather stations, a top-20 US website, one of the world’s largest Internet of Things (IoT) data platforms, and industry-leading business solutions.

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