New Cold and Flu Tracker from The Weather Company, an IBM Business, Provides Consumers with Real-Time Updates of Flu Activity at a Hyper-Local Level

New York, NY - 06 Oct 2016: The Weather Company, an IBM Business (NYSE: IBM), announced today a new cold and flu experience that will leverage real-time sentiment data to provide updates on cold and flu activity at a hyperlocal level. The Cold and Flu Tracker, sponsored by GSK Consumer Healthcare’s (GSK) Theraflu® brand, is available  on weather.com, Theraflu.com, and The Weather Channel app. Previously, users may not have been aware of cold and flu activity in their state until the weekly CDC flu report was released. Now, users will know in real-time when cold and flu activity is spiking in their area, and can take action to help protect themselves from the virus.

“Our goal at Weather is to create experiences that engage, educate, and delight our fans, and we know when we do that, marketers benefit too,” said Jeremy Steinberg, global head of sales, The Weather Company. “Our new Cold and Flu Tracker will help our fans get ahead of flu activity as much as possible, and by doing that, we know we’re adding tremendous value to their experience with us. Leveraging Sickweather and Watson Ads helps us further connect the dots for our users and marketers in order to keep people informed - in this case, about illness rather than weather conditions.”

The Cold & Flu Tracker is powered by data from Sickweather, the world's first real-time map of sickness and the largest illness crowdsourcing community of its kind, and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). For the first time on Weather properties, Sickweather will monitor real-time social conversations and analyze the social sentiment with cognitive capabilities such as machine learning and natural language processing to help identify cold and flu activity.

On The Weather Channel app, users can access localized real-time cold and flu activity information through the health module, which will include a dial for current local “Cold & Flu” conditions, a “heat map” of hyperlocal cold and flu activity, as well as current and historical CDC reports. On weather.com and Theraflu.com, visitors will have access to the “heat map,” an interactive map with national and hyperlocal cold and flu activity based on sentiment data to show where cold and flu conversations are happening across the country, as well as current and historical CDC reports, local weather forecast information, and relevant cold and flu seasonal content.

The new Cold & Flu Tracker is part of GSK’s overall campaign to launch the new Theraflu® ExpressMax™ Caplets, which includes:

  • A custom Cold & Flu sentiment trigger to deliver targeted advertising based on local social conversations and weather conditions
  • Retail extensions to leverage sentiment data and first-party location data to reach consumers who are in close proximity to stores located in markets with cold and flu activity
  • Off-property media activation enabling GSK to use the sentiment trigger on platforms and publishers beyond Weather, to help inform consumers as part of a holistic marketing strategy

“Weather’s Cold and Flu Tracker is a truly unique and powerful concept that gives consumers the opportunity to get ahead and be prepared for the flu season as much as possible,” said Theresa Agnew, chief marketing officer, GSK Consumer Healthcare. “The combination of social sentiment and cognitive learning will not only inform and advise consumers, but it will provide fantastic insights for the marketing team as well in terms of knowing when to merchandise and market the Theraflu® brand in different areas throughout the country.”

“Social media is often the first place cold and flu outbreaks become evident, and it's the only place where we can track them in real-time,” said Graham Dodge, Chief Executive Officer, Sickweather. “Working with The Weather Company to surface these outbreak areas to their wider audience could have huge positive implications. The more people with access to this information, the more people there will be proactively making healthier choices to prevent themselves and others around them from getting sick and therefore missing work or school, not to mention helping the elderly and medically fragile populations avoid life-threatening illnesses."

In addition, the Theraflu  brand will be the first GSK Consumer Healthcare brand to leverage Watson Ads, an industry-first capability in which consumers are able to interact with IBM Watson through advertising. Consumers will be able to interact with the Theraflu ad via voice or text and ask Watson questions like “How long is the flu contagious?” Watson’s machine learning and natural language capabilities will allow the ad unit to provide relevant responses. GSK Consumer Healthcare was previously announced as one of the first marketers collaborating with Weather on Watson Ads.

ABOUT THE WEATHER COMPANY, AN IBM BUSINESS

The Weather Company, an IBM Business, is the world's largest private weather enterprise, helping people make informed decisions – and take action – in the face of weather. The company offers the most accurate, personalized and actionable weather data and insights to millions of consumers, as well as thousands of marketers and businesses via Weather’s API, its business solutions division, and its own digital products from The Weather Channel (weather.com) and Weather Underground (wunderground.com).

The company delivers up to 26 billion forecasts daily. Its products include a top weather app on all major mobile platforms globally; the world’s largest network of personal weather stations; a top-20 U.S. website; the seventh most data-rich site in the world; one of the world’s largest IoT data platforms; and industry-leading business solutions.

Weather Means Business™. The world’s biggest private weather enterprise brands in aviation, energy, insurance, media, and government rely on The Weather Company for data, technology platforms and services to help improve decision-making and respond to weather’s impact on business. For more, visit theweathercompany.com.

ABOUT GSK CONSUMER HEALTHCARE

GSK – one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies – is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer.  For further information please visit www.gsk.com.

ABOUT SICKWEATHER

Sickweather is the world's first real-time map of sickness and the largest crowdsourcing community of its kind – processing millions of illness reports each month. The company has received numerous awards and been recognized for accurately forecasting outbreaks up to 15 weeks in advance. Sickweather is committed to providing consumers and businesses the most accurate, predictive and meaningful sickness forecasts in the world – for reducing healthcare costs and saving lives. For more information, please visitwww.sickweather.com

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