The Weather Company yesterday announced Watson Ads, an industry-first capability in which consumers will be able to interact with IBM Watson through advertising, by asking questions via voice or text and receiving relevant information about the product or offering.

PHD client GSK Consumer Healthcare, along with Campbell Soup Company and Unilever, is amongst the first of three marketers on board.

In the first consumer use of IBM Watson technology for advertising purposes, this new era of cognitive advertising is expected to create a much sought after one-to-one connection with consumers that can be personal, relevant and valuable; and can scale across millions of interactions and touchpoints.

“We are always looking for innovative ways to help brands connect with their audience, and this is truly unlike any ad experience we’ve seen before,” said Craig Atkinson, chief investment officer, PHD USA. “We believe these represent the first steps towards a new era in cognitive advertising, and we’re excited to not only see what the future holds, but be part of crafting it.”

When viewing a Watson Ad, a consumer will be able to ask Watson questions and Watson’s machine learning and natural language capabilities will allow it to provide accurate responses.  IBM Watson can understand natural language and reason, and can learn and interact with humans.

For example, an allergy medication brand could enable visitors to Weather.com to ask questions about whether the product is appropriate for children or what sort of side effects it might cause. Or a food brand may encourage people to ask about potential recipes.  Further, IBM Watson’s ability to process and create context from large amounts of unstructured data will help marketers provide consumers with meaningful, true brand and product engagement.  Watson Ads benefits from the world’s most accurate weather data provided by The Weather Company, which will be factored into query responses. Whether that be historical data, current conditions like temperature, precipitation or the current weather forecast, maximum relevance can be created for each individual consumer – in turn helping them make decisions quickly and directly in the ad unit without leaving the experience.

To advance the industry, The Weather Company intends to create the Watson Ads Council, in which the company will work closely with a team of marketers who will act as a sounding board for the latest innovations leveraging Watson Ads and cognitive advancements in advertising. As the first brand marketers signed on for Watson Ads, Campbell Soup Company, Unilever and GSK Consumer Healthcare all plan to participate in the Watson Ads Council.

“Our members will help us learn how to best leverage cognitive computing, machine learning, and natural language generation and processing. They’ll help us drive the industry and lead the direction for how cognition can improve advertising,” said Jeremy Steinberg, global head of sales, The Weather Company.

“Cognition humanizes the use of data as we move from intent-based advertising to actual one-to-one interacting. It also gives consumers easy access to information to make better decisions about their healthcare in real time,” said Theresa Agnew, chief marketing officer, GSK Consumer Healthcare. “We have produced a number of successful campaigns with Weather and value their steadfast commitment to creating a quality advertising and consumer engagement experience for their fans.”

Watson Ads will launch first exclusively across The Weather Company properties, but this is expected to have broad implications for other marketing channels, including out of home, television, connected cars, social media platforms and more.

You can read the official press release from The Weather Company here.