Q&A: TuneIn looks to AI, 5G to boost user experience - Mobile World Live

Q&A: TuneIn looks to AI, 5G to boost user experience

09 MAR 2020

Tony Archibong, VP of distribution and business development at radio streaming app company TuneIn (pictured, right), talked to Mobile World Live about the biggest opportunities and challenges facing the content industry today.

Does content need to be tailored specifically for each device type, or does a one-size-fits-all approach work?
Not all devices were created equal, so if content creators and distributors have the time and resources, ideally their content should be tailored accordingly. By way of example, Alexa-enabled devices support the Alexa skills framework, which effectively allows developers to create and customise the voice user interface (VUI) for the content they are distributing on the platform.

In other environments, you may have to rely upon a pre-recorded or on-demand piece of content that is discoverable through one specific action, whereas in an Alexa skill, you may be able to create more of a choose your own adventure type of experience, where the VUI guides you through a multitude of live and on-demand content centred around your voice interactions and preferences specified to the assistant. In summary, the user interface supported by a smart speaker, mobile app, set top box (STB), or smart television can widely vary the listening experience.

Why are partnerships with, for example, auto and device manufacturers important?
In our opinion, partnerships with auto and device manufacturers are the vessels for achieving the quintessential user experience of seamlessly carrying all of their personalised content with them throughout their day. For example, smart speakers and STBs allow for an early morning in-home experience, the automobile then allows for a seamless continuation of their news or podcasts during their commute, and then even further at their desk at work, only to bring it back again on their return home at the end of the day. In addition to enhancing full-day listening and engagement, these auto and device partnerships are beneficial for new content discovery and recommendations for passive listeners.

With consumers able to access a sea of content and information, how do you make radio broadcast/podcasts stand out, and does demand remain high for this type of content?
Broadcast radio is still the most popular content on smart speakers and inside of automobiles, so the demand is already well in place. As we continue to reinvent radio at TuneIn, we strive daily to improve the user experience as well as listener access to this content in order to maintain and increase its popularity. On smart speakers for example, we work on a daily basis to ensure voice assistants are properly matching all of the most common voice queries from users, so as to not impede their access to their favourite stations, sports teams, or general news subjects. This voice technology will continue to proliferate through other areas of consumer electronics and automobiles, so it is imperative that we perfect it as we continue to learn more about user behaviours. In addition to improving accessibility, we are working with our radio partners on innovative content approaches, such as commercial-free news, where TuneIn leverages previous content and highlights from the provider and inserts them into traditional commercial breaks to create a unique user experience.

Why does personalisation matter and how should this be achieved?
Our goal is to provide a world-class experience for our users. Getting them to the audio they want to listen to as quickly as possible is crucial to meeting this goal. Personalisation helps us accomplish this. Making the home page of our mobile app or website feel like their home has proven to be highly retentive. Meanwhile, we continue to look for new ways to allow each unique user to have a custom experience. The same philosophy extends to voice-activated devices or smart speakers, where we leverage mobile companion apps and their interfaces to act as a platform for personalisation to assist the blind experience some users can have in a voice-only environment. Features such as onboarding selection, station presets, as well as account linking are all examples of how we achieve this goal.

What do you think will be the main drivers of the industry in 2020?
I believe AI and 5G, and how the combination of these two technologies will be leveraged to improve mobile users’ content, services, and productivity consumption will be accelerated in the near future. Particularly, how large operating systems and their parent companies will partner with the automotive industry to drive their head unit experiences. TuneIn, for example, is already in partnership with several companies leveraging in-car data to provide an enhanced streaming radio experience, such as Alexa Auto, Android Automotive and CarPlay. How we expand upon these opportunities with faster, more personalised technology in the future will be a key area we’d like to keep an eye on.

This article was originally due to appear in the MWC20 Barcelona Show Daily newspapers as part of our conference speaker coverage. Due to the cancellation of the event we are instead publishing online.

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Michael Carroll

Michael doesn’t want to admit that he has been a journalist and editor for close to 20 years covering a diverse set of subjects including shipping and shipbuilding, fixed and mobile telecoms, and motorcycling...More

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