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Revisiting the Chunk-of-Cheese Marketing Model

Earlier this week I noticed one of Facebook’s Favorite Hacks of 2013, “Weather on Events,” was very similar to an idea I presented at the New Media Institute‘s Spring SLAM in March 2012.

The presentation was well recieved by the crowd and by the representitives from the Weather Channel in attendance. We discussed follow-up meetings but nothing really came of it. 

At the time, I suppose I was more fouced on knocking out the rest of my master’s program, and I just sort of forgot about the idea myself.

The following presentation notes are 2-years stale, but I still see lots of potential for using the “Weather on Events” concept in a marketing capacity, far beyond just the Weather Channel.



“Finding new ways, more clever ways to interrupt people doesn’t work.” – Seth Godin


There’s nothing my dog Gladys loves more than a nice big hunk of provolone cheese – except when there is a heartworm pill hidden inside. Inevitably, after one or two chews, the slimy white chunk rolls off her tongue and splats on the floor as she stands there looking betrayed.


In the chunk-of-chesse marketing model, to properly inoculate my pooch, I must mask the acrid, metallic taste of the heartworm pill with enough succulent cheese to make the medicine go down.


All too frequently, marketers get their proportions wrong and leave too much of the sour advertisement dangling out of the content. Consumers see it a mile away and, not only spit it out, but avoid it altogether. Even more counterintuitive is the idea that every chunk of content out there is an opportunity to advertise. Eventually, users know where to expect the distasteful and irrelevant content and avoid it altogether.


In an attempt to re-acquaint users with that advertising space on the right side of the Facebook page that has become a veritable no=man’s land, The Weather Channel’s Facebook application will employ the reverse chunk-of-cheese model to get some eyeball back to where the money is made.. In essence, The Weather Channel will help Facebook insert delicious content in an area that formerly tasted of ground-up pill.


3-Way benefit:


  • The Weather Channel: Drive traffic to weather.com, increasing exposure and positive branding.

  • Facebook Users: Facebook users substitute advertisements for personalized weather forecasts.

  • Facebook: Facebook conditions users to pay closer attention to the sponsored column, increasing the value of other marketers messages.


The Weather Channel is the No. 1 free weather application on iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Palm, and now iPad.  These apps offer a variety of services including location-based, customized weather information, an extensive index of maps, enhanced video center and severe weather alerts at the tap of a finger.


Right now, The weather Channel does not have a significant presence on Facebook. In order to achieve The Weather Channel’s goal of  “reaching users on any platform,” a Facebook application is a necessity. Here, The Weather Channel can attract new users, both young and old, and provide seamless access to Weather content already being enjoyed by millions of people.


The biggest threat to The Weather Channel digital presence is getting beat to the punch in social media. Other weather applications already have an edge – or at the very least, have closed the gap –  in mobile app design.


Tier 1 – Facebook Connect


First, establish a basic connection with Facebook via Faecbook Connect on mobile devices and weather.com. This offers users a simple and convenient way to connect with the Weather Channel and returns basic user data such as id, name, picture, gender, and locale. Users remain logged into Facebook, removing the necessity to login every time someone visits weather.com. Allowing people to login with Facebook is just an additional way users can frictionlessly access their weather information. Moreover, this is an important step towards capturing a more international audience.


Tier 2 – Whitelist for Ads Management


Second, The Weather Channel should propose a unique partnership with Facebook that allows The Weather Channel to display content in dedicated advertising space for a mutually beneficial outcome.


Facebook applications have the ability to add a permission called “ads_management.” This permission provides the ability to manage ads and call the Facebook Ads API on behalf of a user. Only certain “whitelisted apps” are allowed to do this.


Facebook, being a unique partner-focused company, is willing to give special benefits and attention to companies who can build significant value for marketers and users.


Here is why Facebook should forgo (or discount) valuable ad-space, periodically replacing ads with Weather Channel content.


Mark Zukerberg has stated that Facebook’s recent developments are specifically intended to help users merge their online and offline lives. Weather information is the fundamental intersection of this concept. The information you get online – that you don’t want to go out of your way to get – has a relevance only in your offline life.


Facebook has an abysmal click-through rate compared to other online services that depend on advertising dollars to turn a profit. If you look at a “heat map” tracking eye movement and visual attention over a Facebook page, it is clear that Facebook needs help drawing attention to their advertising space. The best way to do this is to blend desirable content with sponsored messages. Users who accept the permissions for The Weather Channel Facebook application will periodically see personalized weather data where they would otherwise see advertisements. Looking to this part of the screen for weather information conditions users to scan the Sponsored section,paying more attention to advertisers messages. This concept can be applied to in-browser and mobile viewing.


Tier 3 – Event-based Forecasts


The third tier of this application is an extended permission that gives The Weather Channel access to a user’s events. The Weather Channel is not just about weather, but what people want to do.


By identifying looking at the events that a user is attending (or even just invited to) a time and location-specific forecast can be displayed on Facebook or on Weather.com


Forecasts can be displayed, conjoined to a timeline post or in the advertising space suggested in tier two, even displaying specialized event-specific data already available through Weather.com applications such as Beach & Marine Forecast, Fitness Forcast, Golf Conditions, Pollen Forcast, etc.


Rather than bundling forecasts with clever marketing packages, TWC’s new application for Facebook creates value that can be enjoyed across platforms and keeps users coming back for more.


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