MARKHAM, ONTARIO — Hey Alexa! You’re welcome on our platform.
That’s a message that’s now possible thanks to a partnership formed between XAPPmedia and Toronto-based SoCast expressly for the latter company’s digital platform for radio.
The partnership enables radio stations on the SoCast platform to utilize voice-activation functions from XAPPmedia — such as custom Alexa skills and listener promotions, permitting them to engage with their audiences on voice-activated devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home.
To the surprise of few in the radio industry’s C-Suites, the use of voice-activated devices is expanding rapidly.
In fact, a recent Gartner study estimates that 75% of American homes will have a smart speaker such as Amazon Echo or Google Home by 2020. This is up from just 7% at the end of 2016, according to Edison Research.
“Voice-activation gives radio broadcasters an opportunity to increase listening share in the home, as many of these devices are located in listeners’ kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms,” SoCast notes.
In SoCast’s view, the new partnership allows XAPPmedia to attain more radio stations using its service, while permitting SoCast to offer another tool to connect with radio audiences on its integrated platform, which already allows radio stations to manage their websites, mobile apps and social media.
“This integration demonstrates the need for radio to connect with its audiences in additional channels and SoCast’s ongoing commitment to allow broadcasters to do so,” SoCast says. “XAPPmedia is an ideal partner for SoCast, because it is the one technology provider that has proven the ability to deliver interactive voice applications on Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant at scale.”
Elliott Hurst, CEO of SoCast, which is headquartered just south of Toronto’s trendy Kensington Market neighbourhood, commented, “At SoCast we believe that digitally engaging the audience is essential to radio’s evolution. The integration with XAPPmedia allows our radio stations to connect with their audiences via voice-activated devices and preserve our commitment to have ‘radio everywhere’. The rapid adoption of these devices further illustrates how listeners continue to demand more control over their audio. Being available on these devices is table stakes today; audiences will be expecting to access their favorite radio stations, shows, personalities, and ads with the brand consistency they’ve come to expect in other digital channels such as web, mobile, and social.”
Pat Higbie, CEO and co-founder of Washington, D.C., based XAPPmedia, added, “XAPPmedia fully supports SoCast’s mission to help radio thrive in the digital era. SoCast is already meeting that objective for radio on mobile, social and web. We are excited to support SoCast in guiding their customers through the next digital evolution, voice. Interactive voice platforms like Alexa on Amazon Echo and Google Assistant on Google Home and Android are bringing radio back into the home, increasing time spent listening and creating an instant, interactive listener experience for the first time. SoCast is poised to drive innovation for radio on these new platforms and we are pleased they chose XAPP’s interactive voice solutions to support their customer next phase of listener growth.”
— Additional reporting by Symon Edwards, in Toronto