Interview: Jonathan Glanz, CEO Sonic Notify Explains the Inaudible Frequency Technology and How It Served the New York Fashion Week

Recent news around the MADE Fashion Week app developed by Sonic Notify brought to our attention a very creative way to employ what is known as inaudible frequency technology. We have spoken with Jonathan Glanz, CEO of Sonic Notify (www.sonicnotify.com) about how this technology can be used by marketers who wish to target specific audiences via mobile devices.

Otilia Otlacan: Fashion and technology – who would’ve thought these two can blend so well in a smartphone / tablet app? Could you share with us the story behind the MADE Fashion Week app, what brought it to life?

Jonathan Glanz: Sonic Notify was just starting out a few months ago when we “activated” our first event, the Smartwater Smartlounge at the CMJ 2011 Music festival. It was a great starting point in which we delivered content about the live shows and DJ sessions.

During CMJ, one of our partners was MADE, which provided a video of the event. We met Mazdack Rassi, founder of Milk Studios, who immediately latched on to what we were doing and saw its potential. He convinced us that MADE Fashion Week would be a great use case; with tens of thousands of attendees and Livestream of the runway shows. But even more than numbers, Rassi convinced us that the technology was desperately needed at the event – the ability to take notes, email buyers, snap pictures, and keep track of looks had grown impossible for Fashion Week attendees to manage.

Otilia Otlacan: What was the most challenging step in developing MADE Fashion Week app?

Jonathan Glanz: The most challenging aspect was making sure we properly isolated the different rooms so that attendees at the show could move from presentation to presentation and see only what was happening immediately in front of them.

Otilia Otlacan: Apps like this and the technologies that power them are still largely unknown to the public. Can you give us an intro to what the inaudible frequency technology is and what are its current applications?

Jonathan Glanz: The technology is the sending of data through sound in a range that humans cannot hear. So in effect, what this allows for is messaging based on presence, whether in front of a TV, a store shelf or in a stadium. It is hyper-location awareness that has never before been capable with any technology. IN other words, your television can now communicate with your smartphone.

The applications are almost unlimited. Any place or device with a speaker can communicate data. We have isolated three primary applications, which are the Live space (events, concerts, conventions), Broadcast space (TV, Internet streaming, radio), and the Goods space (In-store marketing, direct-to-consumer product marketing). In each of the verticals, we aim to give agencies, broadcast networks, CPG brands or whomever the ability to send relevant content to peoples’ smartphones.

Otilia Otlacan: Would it be technically possible to apply targeting criteria to audiences using apps like MFW, or will a marketer’s message target the whole audience in the covered area?

Jonathan Glanz: It is definitely possible. The interesting thing about the way we have built the SDK is that the client application can apply another level of selection on top of the preliminary Sonic Notify trigger. So take for instance, a Sonic Notify beacon which was placed on a store shelf. If the client app could differentiate the user based on personal information, then different ads could be shown to different consumers. So that the NASCAR-loving dad gets a video by Dale Earnhardt Jr. while the soccer mom gets a different video by Ellen DeGeneres.

Otilia Otlacan: What’s on the roadmap for Sonic Notify, any plans that you can tell us about?

Jonathan Glanz: We are actively signing our first big deals in each of the three verticals I previously mentioned. We are also forming strategic partnerships with the application companies, marketers, and ad networks that are the heavy hitters in each of those three verticals.

Otilia Otlacan: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Jonathan Glanz: Absolutely. More than anything else, this isn’t a tool for advertisers to SPAM people; rather it’s a tool that enables people to receive content that is directly targeted at a combination of who they are and what they are doing right this moment. For example, people at the MADE Fashion Week runway shows will receive up-to-the second pictures from the runway, while shoppers at Babies R’Us could be receiving diaper-based content – all on their smartphones.

About Jonathan Glanz
Jonathan Glanz, the Managing Partner, found the idea of Sonic Notify while building the multi-million dollar digital agency, Densebrain, servicing over 19 P&G brands. In a past life, Jon built set top boxes for Charter Communications, medical devices with Pfizer, and surf forecast systems for Swell.

About Sonic Notify
Sonic Notify enables consumer brands, event venues and broadcasters to reach individuals in real-time with highly-targeted content based on a user’s location and interests. Sonic Notify’s first-of-its-kind technology is integrated into a company’s existing mobile app, allowing the brand send multimedia content, like a song, coupon or advertisement, to any mobile device, or likewise, trigger an action on any mobile device. Launched in 2011, Sonic Notify’s technology uses advanced decoding algorithms and readily available, low-cost hardware to transmit imperceptible audio signals, opening up an array of new possibilities for brands, retailers, artists, broadcasters and large-scale event organizers to connect with their target audience using presence-based content. Sonic Notify is based in New York City, NY and was borne from the successful technology development firm Densebrain, as a collaboration between engineer Alex Morgan Bell and Densebrain founder Jonathan Glanz. For more information, visit www.sonicnotify.com.

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