As Apple recently got ready to celebrate the milestone of 25 billion app downloads, it released a list of the most popular apps, ranking The Weather Channel app as the second most popular free iPad app and fifth most popular free iPhone app, way ahead of anyone else in the TV industry.
And that is only one of example of some of the impressive numbers TWC has seen with its digital products. “We’ve had over 55 million downloads of our apps,” notes Cameron Clayton, the company’s head of digital products and B&C Technology Leader inductee. “We have 26 million unique visitors to our mobile Website and weather.com has 75 million uniques a month according to comScore….When you add in TV, something like 168 million uniques a month come to The Weather Channel properties. And that makes us bigger than ESPN or anyone else from a cross-platform perspective.”
Clayton’s road to digital product development at TWC in Atlanta began in New Zealand, where he was born and raised. After getting what he calls his “first real job” in the pharmaceutical industry and working on the launch of Lipitor in New Zealand, a few friends asked him for advice on how to market their Websites. “I gave them some names of major ad agencies, but the agencies told them, ‘We aren’t going to work with you because we only create million dollar-plus TV,’” Clayton recalls. “They were really mad, but I started laughing and said, ‘This is a great opportunity. We should start a digital ad agency.’”
The company eventually picked up a number of U.S. clients, and Clayton married an American woman and moved to Atlanta, where in 2004 he took his first job in business development at TWC.
TWC has long been a pioneer in mobile and digital, launching its mobile offerings in 1999, and had built up a multimillion-dollar mobile business with its subscription products. But after the launch of the iPhone, “I made the decision that we needed to change from subscription and become an ad-supported business,” Clayton recalls. This was a hotly contested idea, both inside TWC and in the industry, which was generally offering subscription products. “People were telling us we were nuts, and I had many sleepless nights about that decision,” Clayton admits.
But the move quickly paid off, with revenue growth of “100% a year, every year since we started,” Clayton notes, producing a “multi-tens of millions of dollars business” that is “the fastest-growing part of our business.”
Thanks to that success, Clayton was promoted to senior VP of mobile and digital applications and in 2011 moved into his current post, where he oversees all of the company’s digital product development efforts and strategies. As part of those efforts, his teams are preparing to launch a revamped weather.com site on May 2 and a new iPhone app later that month.
Clayton has also been extremely active in industry organizations, where he is global chairman of the Mobile Marketing Association and on the board of the Interactive Advertising Bureau. “I’m a strong believer that we can raise the sea level for everyone by working together as an industry to solve common problems,” he notes.
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