'We were doing AI before it was sexy': Sonnant's Tony Simmons on revolutionising audio content
Welcome to an audio-led edition of Unmade.
Today’s edition of The Unmakers features Tony Simmons, founder of audio technology startup Sonnant. Anyone interested in understanding how spoken audio content will be monetised in the future will find it a fascinating listen.
Plus, a historically bad day for ARN Media on The Unmade Index.
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The Unmakers: How Sonnant is using AI to power an all-in-one product to commercialise of audio content
In today’s edition of the Unmakers, Unmade’s Tim Burrowes talks to Tony Simmons, CEO and founder of Sonnant, an Australia-founded AI platform for broadcast and podcast audio that is set to become a major player in the monetisation of digital audio.
Sonnant uses AI to automate many of the manual processes taking place behind the scenes in audio businesses including Southern Cross Austereo, ARN, Nova and Nine. In the future it offers the prospect of real time insertion of advertising that fits within the context of the conversation.
Simmons doesn’t come from the traditional radio world. He hails from a tech and data background and started his career as a commercial lawyer before founding and selling several software businesses over the last 15 years.
“We were doing AI before it was sexy,: says Simmons. “Maybe we weren't doing podcasts before they were sexy, but we were right ahead of the curve in terms of blending the two together.”
Sonnant converts content into data for a variety of functions - including indexing content to make recalling clips of words or phrases from the archive instant, AI-powered content summaries, asset creation including clips and audiograms, permanent clip housing and automated speaker identification.
“Behind every word, there's energy, there's sentiment, there's how long you pause for, there's volume, there's gap between previous word, gap between the next word. If you look at human communication and try to turn that into data, that is a massive exercise. In order to automate things effectively and replicate human endeavour, data is the building blocks to be able to do that from a technology point of view,” Simmons explains.
“So the starting point for us was understand what data points are there and then what data points are going to be relevant to automate manual work and increase the lifeblood of this industry, impressions and advertising dollars.”
The software is also developed to identify how advertising can help be contextualised for optimal relevance.
The product is also adept at creating social media-ready content like audiograms that are contextually relevant without needing zero human input or editing. “Everyone's seen how ChatGPT can create web pages and summarize content. So being able to turn one long-form piece of content into all your tweets and all your YouTube shorts and Instagram posts is a no-brainer as far as producing long-form content. Pulling out the relevant hashtags, putting your headline in this can all be done through incredible automation at scale.”
ARN hits all time low as Index drops
Tim Burrowes writes:
The Unmade Index resumed its downwards trajectory on Wednesday, dropping by 0.58% to 633 points.
ARN Media had a bad day, falling 4.4%, taking the company down to a market capitalisation of $231m and its worse share price of all time. Rival Southern Cross Austereo fell by 0.68% and radio minnow Sports Entertainment Group, owner of SEN, lost 5.13%.
Domain and Ooh Media were the only two stocks to grow, rising by 3.9% and 0.35% respectively.
Time to leave you to your Thursday.
Audio production was courtesy of Abe’s Audio, the people to talk to about voiceovers, sound design and podcast production.
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I’ll be back with an end of week update tomorrow, reflecting on last night's spectacular Nine Upfronts.
Have a great day.
Publisher - Unmade