Fresh off the news that iHeartMedia will begin using Sounder’s audio intelligence platform to bring brand new security capabilities to its iHeartPodcast Network portfolio, the broadcaster is leading a funding round for the tech company. Sounder says it raised $7.7 million in a Series A funding round, with not only iHeartMedia as a new investor, but also TechNexus, Diverse Angels and Adventure Fund.
Sounder says the new funding will allow it to expand the research and development team working to create artificial intelligence and machine learning tools that drive the growth of audio creators. The company has already published numerous job offers. Sounder also plans to build a comprehensive advertising system that supports publishers and advertisers of all sizes. He says it will reinvent the ad tech stack for the audio industry.
“While some of the biggest audio technology companies are building all of these solutions for themselves, we believe we can build all of these solutions for the entire industry,” CEO Kal Amin said in a recent interview.
Sounder’s latest investors join existing backers Xoogler.co Syndicate and Abrahamson Group. With today’s announcement, Sounder’s total funding to date has reached $11.55 million.
This round of funding comes at a time when Sounder is experiencing significant and continued growth. Sounder reports that it closed the fourth quarter of 2021 with streams up more than 200% and revenue up more than 100% year over year.
“There has been a technology vacuum that until now has not been accessible to most players in the audio industry,” Amin said. “AI, machine learning and natural language processing will continue to accelerate audio’s revenue potential, and we are at the forefront of these innovations. This is not just a watershed moment for Sounder, but for the entire audio industry.
Sounder’s AI and ML technology changes the way audio content is found, experienced and monetized. The Company’s Audio Data Cloud brings new datasets and tools to content creators and media publishers, including brand safety and suitability analysis, topic analysis, content synthesis and dynamic segmentation. These solutions increase the amount of inventory available for targeted audio advertising.
That’s what attracted iHeartMedia, which announced Wednesday that it would integrate Sounder’s brand safety assessment tools for use by ad buyers on the iHeartPodcast network.
The tools take advantage of the audio data cloud that Sounder launched in November. Using text-to-audio transcription, machine learning, and artificial intelligence technology to identify topic tone and keywords, the technology powers an automated brand safety tool. By deploying the brand safety solution, iHeartMedia says it will allow marketers to buy from a broader and broader range of podcasts with the assurance that the content meets industry safety standards. The companies say the technology will expand rapidly to also allow advertisers to customize their brand safety guidelines as well, which they say will allow new, more diverse publishers to deliver even more effective ad placements.
iHeart has previously tested Sounder-branded security tools, which were developed with AI and machine learning from 50 million podcast episodes. Sounder claims to have a 90% accuracy rate in identifying content containing drugs, alcohol, weapons and ammunition.
Founded three years ago by former Google and Spotify execs, Sounder provides a suite of tools for creators to manage and monetize their content.
“Infrastructure is never the sexy part of it all. But that’s also where we think there’s a lot of opportunity,” Amin said. “If you go back like 2019, it was all about exclusive content. And since 2020, you see a greater focus on monetization and ad tech. We think the next step is what we consider audio intelligence, powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence to truly drive the next stage of podcasting growth.