Plans to launch new Travelers Network in October
The Oakville, Ont.–based Pelmorex Media – which owns and operates The Weather Network and its French counterpart, MétéoMédia – announced today that it has acquired Santa Clara, CA. –based Beat The Traffic, which provides traffic reporting solutions for broadcast media partners and consumers. A purchase price was not disclosed.
Pelmorex also announced that it is launching a new division called Travelers Network in late October. The division will specialize in real-time traveler information through both a dedicated website and a bilingual iPhone app (currently available in beta version). Additional apps for non-Apple devices are also planned.
The Travelers Network was first conceived about 18 months ago as a complementary unit to Pelmorex’s core weather information business, said the unit’s managing director, Mark Thompson. It is built around what he called a “know before you go” concept, supplying users with up-to-the-minute information on accidents, unexpected road closures and the like.
The business unit will launch with a dedicated team of what it calls “travel experts” for the Greater Toronto Area, with plans to add dedicated traffic desks to additional cities throughout North America over time.
“Traffic and travel are so tied to weather, it made perfect sense to move into this category,” said Thompson. “The idea behind launching it as a separate company was really to give it focus and the ability to grow the business as fast as possible.”
Travelers Network is meant to provide travelers with all of the necessary information to get to their destination, said Thompson. “We’re starting with traffic and really focusing on commuting and delivering the fastest route from Point A to Point B.
“But it’s not the traffic network, it’s the Travelers Network, so it will obviously grow beyond that,” said Thompson.
Founded in 2001 by an engineer named Andre Gueziec – who will join Travelers Network in the newly created position of director of research and development – Beat the Traffic currently supplies up-to-the-minute traffic information on 130 metropolitan areas in three countries.
It supplies this information to broadcast partners including CBS, ABC and FOX. In Canada, Shaw‘s Global stations and Bell Media stations such as CTV and CP24 use the service, which provides maps that include 3D renderings of local landmarks such as the CN Tower. Those service agreements are unaffected by the sale, said Thompson.
Like the Weather Network app, the Travelers Network app will be available for free but monetized through advertising, said Thompson. The company is currently in discussions with agencies and advertisers as it seeks launch partners for the new venture. The company is sharing its preliminary audience forecasts with advertisers, although Thompson said the company expects to grow that base quickly.
The company will also now sell ads into the U.S., said Thompson.
While Canada remains a key area of focus for Pelmorex, the company is also broadening its reach internationally. In July, it acquired Spain’s leading multi-platform weather-related information service Eltiempo.
“We’ve got a business model that works and it’s something that can be applied to other content categories as well as other countries,” said Thompson. “We’re in growth mode, but focus is one of our guiding principles… and none of these expansion opportunities will take away any focus from Weather Network and Canada.”
Pelmorex has launched a teaser campaign for the network developed by henderson bas kohn and currently appearing on billboards adjacent to the city’s main inbound/outbound routes, said Thompson. A full-fledged campaign is currently in development and is set to debut late next month.