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Friday, January 25, 2013

Bringing personalised radio to your smartphone

We interview Shankar Meembat about the UTuneMe radio app

Mark Bridge writes:

Targeted advertising on mobile devices is something we’re all getting increasingly familiar with. Visit a web site and there’s a good chance you’ll see an advertisement that’s aimed directly at you, perhaps using information about the sites you’ve previously visited, the type of smartphone you’re using or even your location.

Yet listen to online radio or stream music on your smartphone and that same level of personalisation isn’t available. At least, it wasn’t until recently. A new service called UTuneMe is helping to change the way we think about radio broadcasting.

Shankar Meembat is co-founder and CEO of Exaget, the company behind UTuneMe. I spoke to him this week and asked him to explain more.

“UTuneMe is trying to disrupt the way that audio broadcasts get heard by listeners who primarily listen to radio on their mobiles. A smartphone is a very personal device and there is no reason why listening to your favourite programmes cannot be personalised to you - whether it’s the ads you hear, the news or the traffic information and so on.”

As well as providing tailored audio content, UTuneMe also lets broadcasters display on-screen material: perhaps a link to an advertiser, a discount voucher or some other interactive experience.

“I would put it this way”, said Shankar. “Users get a smarter listening experience. With UTuneMe they have the ability to get themselves even more engaged - whether it’s with the radio station, with the broadcaster or even the advertisers. The listening would not just be passive but a more active and engaging experience.”

UTuneMe’s service can use any personal information that the listener is happy to share. At the moment users are encouraged to provide basic demographic data including age and gender, although they can also link their Facebook profile if they want to provide additional information.

The streaming radio service is currently available in beta as a free Android app while the technology is being piloted by a number of broadcasters. An iOS app is expected in the next few weeks. However, this is just a first step.

“We wanted to get early market feedback. A standalone app helps that and gets us introduced to a larger base. There are plans to have this integrated into a number of third-party apps - and some of those discussions are already ongoing.”

And there’s much more planned, as Shankar told me. “The drive behind all of this was to change the way listeners experience audio on the internet. We want to change the way advertisers engage with their audience in the audio ad world.”

He sees a future where the UTuneMe platform enables smaller organisations to benefit from tailored audio advertising. Small businesses will be able to target customers, while niche broadcasters and even podcasters will customise their programming using UTuneMe.

With targeted ads offering more relevance for consumers and producing better results for advertisers, UTuneMe appears to have a promising future.

The challenge, as Shankar appreciates, is keeping everyone happy. “We want to make it a win-win-win for all the parties involved.”

You can listen to my interview with Shankar Meembat of Exaget via iTunes, by using our RSS feed, by downloading the mp3 file or by using the built-in audio player on our website.
Author: The Fonecast
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Categories: Applications, OpinionNumber of views: 4043

Tags: advertising radio exaget utuneme

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