WEATHERfx Footfall with Watson Helped Subway Increase Store Traffic in Recent Advertising Campaign

By IBM Watson Advertising

 Companies like Subway are capitalizing on AI and Weather triggered ads to increase sales and attract new clients. The results can be far reaching.

In a recent ad campaign, Subway partnered with Watson Advertising to leverage WEATHERfx Footfall with Watson— a new AI-based solution we’re introducing today that’s specifically designed to help drive in-store traffic. As a result, Subway successfully increased traffic by 31% (vs. non-exposed control group), far exceeding all other targeting methods. In addition, the fast-food restaurant franchise saw a 53% reduction in campaign waste, salvaging about 7.9M impressions that would have otherwise gone to waste.

Turning Weather into Sales WEATHERfx is a real-time, signal-based targeting mechanism that factors in weather elements, sales, and consumer data to define the conditions in which the weather is most likely to drive behavior. Brands such as Subway use WEATHERfx to target consumers at the right time and place with the right message.

To support Subway’s objective of driving consumers in-store to enjoy a promotion on foot-long subs, WEATHERfx was augmented with data from IBM’s MetroPulse platform. MetroPulse contains a treasure trove of hyper-local data that that provides rich insights about neighborhood demographics.

AI-driven Insights To make sense of such vast swaths of data, the solution uses AI—including machine learning and advanced cognitive computing—not only to ingest and interpret this information, but also to enable these triggers to continuously self-adjust as weather conditions change. WEATHERfx Footfall with Watson allows brands to receive a custom footfall trigger that is tailored to that brand’s unique needs, not to mention those of its various brick and mortar locations.

Herein lies the true appeal of marrying AI and Weather. In combination, the two create results that are less deterministic and more contextual than most other forms of data mining. AI especially doesn’t assume that past behavior predicts future behavior, but rather learns from context to understand the subtler effects that weather has on customers’ emotions and purchase intent.

The Weather Matters Weather has a tremendous bearing on what people do; where they go, what they eat, and even how they feel—hour-by-hour. In fact, the weather is the single most important external swing factor in business performance. According to the latest report by IBM’s Institute for Business Value “Just Add Weather,” the weather is responsible for nearly half a trillion dollars in economic impact each year in the US alone.

Businesses can’t control the weather. What they can do, however, is use weather insights to anticipate its impact and drive sales. Because the weather is a universal driver of consumer purchase behavior, brands can pivot marketing messages around weather moments to make ad dollars work harder. By doing so, they can achieve exactly what Subway has with IBM’s Weather and AI-powered solution: creating ads that are more targeted, more personalized and more impactful, with less wasted impressions.

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