Mobile app ‘clips’ radio ads to smartphone

BOULDER – Ever hear a great offer advertised on the radio while you’re doing something else and then forget about it later? Someday you might be able to “clip” it and have an interactive version of the information immediately on your smartphone.

Boulder-based startup Clip Interactive LLC is getting set for an August launch of its Clip Radio app in the Portland, Oregon, market.

Developed with help from Cardinal Peak LLC, a Lafayette-based contract engineering and consulting firm, Clip Radio is a new way for radio stations, listeners and advertisers to interact.

“Radio today, some people see it as sort of a dinosaur medium,´ said Sara Sisenwein, Clip Interactive vice president for marketing, noting that radio nonetheless still reaches a vast audience. “The idea was, why can’t you get information you hear on the radio right onto your smartphone? When you hear something, you can get it (with Clip). That’s the basis for our technology and the basis for helping to make radio more relevant these days.”

The technology involved is no simple feat. If, say, a disc jockey announces on the air that anyone who likes the song just played can “clip it” in the next 60 seconds for a free mp3 download, someone with the free Clip Radio app can push a button on the phone to clip it. The phone then records a few seconds of audio from the radio, and the app determines what station it is and what offer was just announced. A link to the mp3 download then is delivered to the user’s phone.

Local inventor Jeff Thramann hatched the idea and started Clip Interactive, originally contracting with Cardinal Peak for working space as well as help developing the technology. Cardinal Peak specializes in digital video and audio.

“So we were a very natural partner for them,´ said Mike Perkins, one of the managing partners at Cardinal Peak.

Cardinal Peak helped develop an initial prototype and developed things such as the algorithms for determining which station is being listened to. As the business model moved forward, Thramann hired Michael Lawless as chief executive, and eventually Clip Interactive moved into its own space at 3200 Carbon Place in Boulder and assumed full control of the technology as it added more employees of its own.

The app has seemingly endless possibilities for radio stations and listeners to interact in real time, whether for music preferences, contests or rewards. But the app also enables advertisers to quantify the value they’re gaining from their radio spots. If a listener takes advantage of a special offer for a half-price car wash, that car wash owner gets that instant feedback.

“Media is becoming way more measured, and if you can’t measure the media advertisers maybe aren’t interested in it,” Sisenwein said. “This tool allows for a feedback loop to advertisers.”

As a private company, Sisenwein couldn’t disclose startup costs or revenues to date.

Clip Radio, which has been in an under-the-radar soft-launch phase, is available in San Diego. At this time, Portland is the only other market Clip is ready to announce, and was picked because of connections Clip has with the radio market there.

Sisenwein said the company is focused on getting those two markets rolling and will take things from there as it relates to further expansion.