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Shopping on the Radio: Q&A With Dan Wagner

Ad system uses inaudible watermarking technology

No one ever knows where the next evolution in radio is going to come from. A new app, from retail sales technology developer Powa Technologies, called PowaTag wants to make that next step forward in radio advertising. PowaTag allows users to instantly buy products off of the radio via an inaudible tone watermarked into the ads. Radio World covered the basics of the new app in an article earlier this month, now we speak with Powa Technologies Founder and CEO, Dan Wagner, to get a better idea how the app works on the radio.

Radio World: Describe the watermarking technology being used for the ads?

Dan Wagner: The digital watermark is an inaudible signal that can be embedded into any kind of broadcast, both prerecorded and live. This gives it a great deal of versatility and outside of radio and TV broadcasts it can also be used at venues like concerts and sports events. The audio tag is completely undetectable to human ears and doesn’t alter the quality of the broadcast.

RW: What must radio station or radio content providers do, technically, for this system to work?

Wagner: We aim to make the process as easy as possible for both broadcasters and content providers and provide them with a server that has a simple to use software suite installed that embeds the audio watermarks in real time. The broadcaster/content provider simply streams the live audio through the server and applies the appropriate watermarks to effect the triggers for the mobile device. There is no additional work or equipment required for radio stations to use the system.

RW: How are ads using the PowaTag app identified on the radio?

Wagner: It’s up to the content provider to notify listeners when the “Listen” service is in use — so they can drop a quick note at the start of their advert.

RW: Does the app have to be running to hear the inaudible watermark tones?

Wagner: PowaTag users will need to have the app open and tap the Listen option for it to recognize audio tags. It only takes a few seconds to fire up the app, and the digital watermark usually runs throughout the ad, giving users plenty of time to engage.

RW: Is the app solely for smartphones?

Wagner: PowaTag is available for both smartphones and tablet devices. The app is currently available as a free download from the iTunes and Google Play Stores for Apple and Android devices, with Windows support coming soon.