After “Hey, Siri”, “Alexa” and “OK Google”, comes… The Weather Company, whose partnership with IBM aims to let audiences converse with brand ads using their voice or typed questions.

Acquired its digital operation was acquired by Big Blue last year, the company this summer announced it would unveil “Watson Ads”, formats that tap IBM’s Watson AI system to boost ad engagement through natural language – another bet that human-computer interaction will become conversational.

After Weather signed Campbell Soup Company, Unilever and GSK Consumer Healthcare as initial customers, sales head Jeremy Steinberg says the company has since added Toyota and plans to open up the format next year.

“In 2017, we will be scaling off-property,” he tells Beet.TV in this video interview. “You could imagine scaling display advertising across the broader ecosystem, to other platforms like social and then owned-and-operated (platforms). We’ll also be using location and weather triggering to make sure the ads are in consumers’ moments.”

So how do Watson Ads really work, and why?

For one, The Weather Channel thinks they may be an answer to a problem. “Digital advertising needs to be rethought to provide more value to consumers,” Steinberg says. “It’s the next frontier in advertising. Watson ads can listen, they can think, they can respond and they’ll enable one-to-one communication between brands and their customers.”

Example: customers can tell a Campbell’s Soup ad ‘Make me a dish with chicken and avocado’, and, having ingested the brand’s recipe database, Watson will return an appealing list of dishes.

“The ability for consumers to speak directly to a brand, get information that will help them make better decisions is going to be hugely beneficial,” Steinberg reckons.

It’s not hard to imagine, down the line, these kinds of answers getting served through some of the major conversational interfaces being delivered by the likes of Apple, Amazon and Google, too.


This video is part of Beet.TV’s coverage of the IAB MIXX Conference, 2016, presented by The TradeDesk. Please find additional videos from the Conference here.

IAB MIXX Conference 2016, presented by The TradeDesk