XappMedia Raises $3 Million For Launch Of Interactive Audio Ads For Mobile Apps

Smartphones are widely used to consume media, but most advertisers have focused on social media, digital video and other applications with a visual component, largely neglecting one of the most common usage patterns: pure audio listening, including Internet radio and podcasts.

But a new company, XappMedia, is looking to fill the gap with its launch of the first interactive audio ads for mobile apps, which allow the listener to respond and immediately engage with more content from the advertiser.

Xapp announced that it has raised $3 million in seed funding from private investors, which it will use to roll out the service to more publishers and advertisers over the course of 2014.

According to Xapp co-founder and CEO Pat Higbie, the company is “focused on new consumer behavior, called ultra-mobile, where the consumer is listening to apps because their hands and eyes are doing something else.” In short, XappMedia’s ad product, XappAds, is designed to reach smartphone users who are listening to content, but unable or unwilling to interact with their phone manually -- for example, while exercising, driving, cooking, or otherwise occupied.

The XappAds platform, currently in use by NPR for its mobile app, plays an audio spot and then invites the user to interact by saying a simple audio prompt chosen by the advertiser.

The platform supports three basic formats: simple branding (with no interactivity), engagement ads with the option of hearing additional information, and conversion ads that enable the user to take an action like buying the product, calling a brand representative, sending an email, accessing a coupon, or downloading a mobile app.  

Higbie explained: “We’ve leveraged a combination of cloud, mobile, and voice technology to create this experience and make it scalable. Any listener can adopt it quickly, any advertiser can adopt it quickly, and bigger publishers and advertisers can implement it on a much larger scale quickly if they choose.”

He added that XappAds don’t require programming expertise to create, and are compatible with all Internet radio apps as well as news apps and podcasts, as long as they allow a simple plug-in to enable voice responses.

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