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Quu Aims to Make Advertising Interactive

A chat with Andy Skotdal about messaging on RDS/PAD, Web and mobile platforms

Quu Interactive, a Seattle-based company founded in 2007, helps stations use data messaging more easily. Its pitch: “Schedulable, dynamic RDS/PAD, Web and mobile messaging no longer requires an engineer for cross-platform integration. … The Quu suite is the only offering built entirely around the core of the radio business: The over-the-air radio commercial.”

Andy Skotdal is a Quu advisor and investor who owns KRKO(AM) and KKXA(AM) in the Seattle metro.

What is Quu Interactive and what’s your involvement?

Skotdal: Quu Inc. is an interactive advertising technology company created by Joe Harb. Joe has a masters degree in engineering and taught fuzzy logic and methodologies in Montreal. Over the years, Joe cultivated a small team of talented programmers, and they moved with him to Quu.

Joe showed me his product suite in January. The dynamic, cross-platform advertising capabilities are so impressive, I picked up the phone while we met and scheduled a meeting in Los Angeles with Mary Beth Garber at Katz the following week, and we flew down together.

RDS/PAD management is only one product in the portfolio. New interactive loyalty products will be announced soon inciting listeners to interact with commercials or music in a simple, elegant way. Quu is an effortless system on the radio side, completely trackable and scalable.

I joined Quu’s advisory board in February. I’ve since become an investor.

RW: Who is using Quu?

Skotdal: Quu has over 200 radio stations from Seattle to Dallas to Philadelphia using the RDS/PAD platform, Beasley Broadcasting among them.

One hundred radio stations are using or implementing Quu’s Web-based platform, and 80 radio stations are using the mobile application.

The Wynn Hotel’s logo is displayed on an Artist Experience HD Radio receiver when the hotel’s commercial is playing on the air.RW: Why should a radio group consider it?

Skotdal: Sales managers recognize that they don’t have to learn a new metric or new language.

When a commercial plays over the air, the client slogan can appear on the RDS/PAD display in the car as an upsell. Any staff member can append advertiser messaging to over-the-air commercials so the slogan and imaging appears on RDS/PAD, mobile and Web platforms every time the commercial airs, without the need for hard-coding. Even when your traffic department and production department populate data fields in a different way, the advertiser messaging will display properly across platforms every time the commercial plays.

Most important, the cross-platform advertising is managed within one interface. Engineering is only necessary to establish the initial data connections between Quu and the client station.

The role-based framework can manage cross-platform advertising campaigns at the station, regional and group level simultaneously. Groups can insert ad buys based on format, cluster, region or other criteria.

Quu is set up so that down the road agencies can manage cross-platform insertion orders for multiple groups using the Quu system and hand-select criteria with groups or stations reviewing the buy.

RW: How, specifically, does it work?

Skotdal: The system ingests both traffic and automation data and applies sophisticated technology to synchronize cross-platform advertiser messaging or slogans to the appropriate commercial or song.

It doesn’t matter if a commercial is manually moved to a different break in an hour, or even if the continuity department or programming department give the commercial a different name than traffic on a daily basis, Quu will track the change and dynamically match the correct advertiser messaging to the commercial on RDS/PAD, Web or mobile platforms.

The Quu system also provides client stations with affidavits and invoices for billing purposes. Marketron is integrating with Quu to create a seamless billing presentation.

RW: Give me an example of how this might be applied in an RDS/PAD campaign.

Skotdal: On the RDS/PAD platform, if your station is running a McDonald’s commercial all day, a matching visual image or message can now be synchronized to appear on the listener’s radio display every time the commercial is broadcast over the air. For example, in the morning when a McDonald’s commercial airs, the radio display can read: “Egg McMuffin 99 cents today only,” and at noon it can change to “Big Mac $1 Now,” and change again to “Try a McSalad!” in the evening. The messaging can be easily scheduled by a regular, hourly employee.

Quu technology is being used to display album art on Artist Experience-enabled receivers. If Lady Gaga goes on tour, every time a song by Lady Gaga plays, the corporate sales team can schedule an RDS/PAD campaign that says “Lady Gaga on Tour, Tickets at Ticketmaster!” That message will display on every station playing a Lady Gaga song by group, region, cluster or just one station. Corresponding imaging can appear on selected Web and mobile assets, scheduled to start and stop on the fly within one interface.

Programming can use the system to schedule promotional and talent-related messaging. Sports and news stations can integrate to scroll real-time game scores from AP or another source. Stations can run messaging for hosts, morning shows, traffic alerts; and there is an EAS feature as well.

Companies pushing metadata content on satellite radio receivers can also port that information over to their terrestrial RDS/PAD infrastructure using Quu.

RW: What is Quu’s relationship with iBiquity Digital?

Skotdal: Quu created and trademarked the Advertiser Experience providing the technology to display the advertiser images, along with the slogan, on Artist Experience-enabled radio displays. The technology is deployed and operational on over 50 radio stations, with market trials underway by other major groups.

All the album art for music stations is available, too.

RW: What does it cost a station or group to participate?

Skotdal:The Quu product suite is modular. The max is $200 per month, including online, in-car and mobile modules, as well as companion ads — messaging when over-the-air ads play — and programming messages. And a capped “success fee” applies only when the station is making money from the product.

RW: How would you assess the market situation with in-car data displays? And how does HD Radio fit in?

Skotdal: RDS penetration is mature. There is a deep, underutilized platform available to be monetized right now. Any time you can reinforce an audio commercial with a synchronized visual message, it’s automatically more powerful for the advertiser.

The fact that you can attach meaningful messaging to songs, like tour or contest information, makes this platform extremely powerful.

Broadcasters and receiver manufacturers have made a significant investment in infrastructure that can finally be utilized and monetized in an elegant way with the Quu system. …

HD penetration is growing substantially, but it will be years before the installed base catches up to the massive existing platform of RDS-enabled radios.

Screen shot of the scheduling engine for RDS/PAD campaigns. Client slogans can be entered here to air as companion advertising on the radio display when the commercial plays, or separate RDS/PAD-only campaigns can be scheduled here.