Outdoor Advertising Startup Firefly Can Now Target Ads Based on Weather

Backed by Google funding, company has teamed with AccuWeather

taxi-top ad by firefly showing the weather by AccuWeather
Firefly's digital screens appear on top of cabs, delivery and rideshare vehicles. Firefly

Just in time for fall, marketers can now target taxi-top ads to shift with the dipping temperatures.

Off the back of a May 2019 $30 million funding round led by Google’s investment arm, Firefly—a California-based startup that tacks digital screens atop vehicles across the country—announced a partnership with weather analytics giant AccuWeather to bring forecasts into Firefly’s platform. Now, the hundreds of cabs, delivery and rideshare vehicles topped by Firefly’s programmatic screens will shine ads that respond to the weather conditions they’re driving through.

The company also announced that its fleets will be rolling into two new cities—Chicago and Dallas—in addition to its existing footprint in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

“A lot of people are looking at how they can bring some kind of interaction with the physical world into their campaigns, but haven’t had the chance,” said Firefly CEO Kaan Gunay. “We’re always all about bringing more innovation to this physical advertising space.”

It’s a partnership that shows the pull weather data can have for media buyers who might want to target, say, hot drinks and sweaters when temperatures drop, or umbrellas when things get drizzly. Though Firefly declined to share its clientele for these weather-sensitive campaigns, Gunay said the idea to partner with AccuWeather came after fielding requests from multiple media buyers—and recent months have seen major brands like Kohl’s, Rite Aid and Subway partnering with their own weather analytics firms.

While the AccuWeather partnership was driven by advertiser demand, Gunay said the expansion into these new locales was driven just as much by the need to find drivers willing to pilot Firefly’s screens around their cities. “Following the media markets is a big part of the puzzle, but not all of it,” he explained. “Both drivers and advertisers are equally important clients of ours.”

AccuWeather, for its part, has rocketed into the ad-tech space in recent months. Just this month, the company inked a contract with IPG’s Huge to handle its digital initiatives and debuted AccuWeatherIQ, a data offering that allows any marketer to plug into its proprietary weather forecasts to better target their campaigns.

@swodinsky shoshana.wodinsky@adweek.com Shoshana Wodinsky is Adweek's platforms reporter, where she covers the financial and societal impacts of major social networks. She was previously a tech reporter for The Verge and NBC News.