Weather Channel Pops Ads Over Alerts

    April 17, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

It appears the popular weather reporting channel has found a new way to ensure users of its Desktop Weather application view ads, by popping them up when users go to check a severe weather alert.

Since I live in a state where tornado season means always having some sort of weather alerting media on, like a weather radio, the television, or the car radio while traveling, a desktop application makes sense to have since I’m in front of a computer for a lot of time during the day.

The Weather Channel’s Desktop Weather program, in its free ad-supported form, makes a thunder noise and flashes red in the PC system tray when a severe weather alert has been broadcast. That happened a few minutes ago as I worked on another story.

With a flick of the mouse, I clicked the icon to see what Mother Nature might be sending my way in the wake of a string of thunderstorms. Just as I parsed the phrase “Severe Weather Alert,” a vomit-green advertisement filled the entire window of the application.

For several seconds, I was informed that my world and my weather was being delivered by AT&T. Why thank you, Mr. Ed Whitacre. My heirs will be so pleased to know that I may have spent my last seconds in my mortal shell viewing your Death Star logo instead of sprinting for a safer place had a tornado been barreling through the neighborhood.

Now, I understand and appreciate those online firms that make a useful service available with ad support. I get it, and I don’t have to be convinced of the value of the tradeoff. Desktop Weather is a useful application, and sometimes I even find the advertisements of personal interest. I have no problem with this.

However, delivering an ad when someone clicks to check on a severe weather alert doesn’t look like a real clever approach to me. Whoever proposed this “level of functionality” should be subject to what Scott Adams might call a “quality process audit.”

I’d suggest a healthy dose of pointy sticks and fire ants as well, but I’ve got to move the car. Seems we have hail entering the area, and unlike Whitacre I don’t have a chauffeur to park my car in the garage in weather like this.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.