How Sound Will Shape The Advertising Industry

How Sound Will Shape The Advertising Industry

Baldwin Cunningham

“The internet was designed to replace infrastructure. Everything that I can buy in a store I can now buy online…So when new advances in technology require new infrastructure…I always worry there is something off there.”

What if there was a technology for advertisers to send data to people’s smartphones everywhere they were, whether at home or in a stadium or walking by a store, regardless of whether there was wifi or bluetooth available, regardless of the particular device they were using, and without needing any new hardware installation?

Turns out there is: sound.

LISNR is a startup making waves in the advertising world by allowing brands to participate and communicate with phones across the entire path to purchase using the devices they already have.

Here’s how it works:

1. A smart tone is played over any audio broadcast system, which can be anything from the speakers at a stadium to someone’s TV. These tones are inaudible to humans.

2. Any device that has the LISNR API/SDK installed can be activated on the basis of the data encoded on the SmartTone.

3. This data can be anything from exclusive content to a contextual offer.

Last year, the startup won the Gold Lion for Innovation In Mobile at Cannes Lions on the strength of partnerships with companies like Budweiser and the San Francisco Giants.

Budweiser rolled out LISNR at it’s Made In America concerts, where consumers could get updates throughout the day based on where they were in the venue, discounts at concessions, and ride reminders from Uber as the event ended.

There are a few reasons this technology is so powerful.

Connecting OOH with TV | The Major League Baseball examples show how LISNR can allow a brand to bridge experiences that were previously totally disconnected. When a brand can allow fans to have a similar experience wherever they’re consuming an experience, it allows for the sort of creative scale that has been elusive to marketers dealing with massive channel fragmentation.

Stability & Simplicity | There is a slate of technology including beacons, near-field comms (NFC) and bluetooth that all have immense potential to change how brands interact with consumers. The problem is that these solutions all require an array of variables to come together, ranging from specific hardware infrastructure, to necessities on the consumer side (such as leaving bluetooth on even though it drains smartphone batteries). The sound-based model LISNR is taking blazes through many of those challenges in a highly novel way.

Participating Across The Consumer Journey | Another interesting aspect of the technology that is enabled particularly by their ability to trigger messages, content, and offers in the home through TV or web videos is the ability to allow the brand to participate with consumers across the consumer journey. A specific offer can be triggered when someone sees a TV spot at home. When they’re in store, more content can be delivered that makes sure the consumer knows about options that better reflect their interest as expressed by their behavior in store. Eventually they’ll even be able to pay, as the technology can communicate directly with the store’s point of sale. This ability to participate all across the spectrum of awareness, intention, and action, is a holy grail for marketing.

New Avenues For Creativity | The types of content that can be delivered via sound is as limitless as the types of content we can create. For creative marketers, this means a new canvas for storytelling. Imagine TV ads that don’t end when the ad buy is up by delivering additional deeper content automatically. Imagine, to put it differently, if every TV ad was just a trailer for a larger set of content or experiences, like games. This could be transformational.

LISNR is making a bet that using sound as a data delivery system can radically change how marketers access audiences and what value they can then add. Based on the company’s phenomenal early results with partners, along with early recognition from the highest powers of the industry, it’s highly likely that they won’t be the only company racing to tap into the power of sound to transform advertising.

For more on how emerging technology is transforming marketing & commerce, or to connect with today’s most dynamic startups, visit Partnered online.


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