UKCA Winner Showcase: Amido and Project FreQ

A pair of headphones resting on an audio mixer in a studio

Video hasn’t really killed the radio star. Indeed, the radio industry continues to boom, with listeners and advertisers alike enjoying mutual benefits. According to Radio Joint Audience Research (RAJAR), the majority (89%) of the UK population tune into the radio at least once a week, listening to an average of 21.1 hours during that time.

Much like many industries, though, radio stations and presenters do not work for free and, as such, networks rely on advertising to fuel the financial pipeline.

But advertisers, understandably, need to demonstrate return on their investment and ensure they are getting value for their money. As such, being able to track and monitor the existence of their advertising, as well as the impact, is key.

It’s often down to the in-house radio commercial team to do the grunt work of ensuring spend is maximised and accounted for. That may seem like a simple task, but for one particular global media and entertainment company – with multiple clients – the process was anything but high-tech.

Indeed, instead of searching for and booking new ad opportunities, commercial team members were bogged down listening to individual shows to try and pinpoint client on-air mentions. With each radio show lasting up to four hours, this was a ridiculously time-consuming and inefficient process.

The entertainment firm turned to Amido, a vendor-agnostic IT consultancy specialising in cloud implementations, for help. The resulting project, FreQ (pronounced free-q) won the UK Cloud Award 2018 accolade for Most Innovative Emerging Technology in the Best Digital Transformation Project category.

The approach Amido took resulted in a very simple solution to a complex problem. It can now track, compile and report on on-air mentions with the same ease consumers enjoy when using a search engine online. It has transformed the way commercial teams work with clients – replacing hours of effort with mere minutes – and, no doubt in turn, added a USP for future client engagements, too.

“Technology for us at Amido has never been about products, but about the business objectives. This is how we are able to continue to expertly deliver innovative solutions as we know how to make disparate software work together across platforms, and plug the gaps where needed rather than reinventing the wheel,” said Alan Walsh, CEO of Amido.

“We know the value in our team and constantly invest in our cloud experts, so they are constantly evolving and learning through our DevOps Academy.”

It took just eight weeks to implement and, importantly, went live on time and within budget. But, behind the resultant simplicity lies a lot of listening, talking and project work.

“We had been working with the client for around 18 months on various projects. Our initial discussions were around how to improve internal processes. They struggled with the same issues a lot of media companies have, including legacy systems that are cumbersome and don’t really work well together,” Leo Barnes, senior business analyst and UX design consultant at Amido, told Cloud Pro.

“So we looked at digital transformation and how they could improve internal processes, keep employees happy and allow them to focus on their day job – stop doing manual processes and talk to other humans, allowing computers to get on and do what they do best. We wanted to consolidate and revolutionise.”

Speech-to-text system VoiceBase lies at the core of the solution to such a problem, with AWS’ Elasticsearch service offering sophisticated analytics, search and monitoring capabilities among other things. The former transcribed each radio show, allowing commercial staff to scan rather than listen for mentions, referring back to audio snippets where relevant.

With a user-friendly front-end, users are able to search for relevant mentions, verify and then download what they need to send onwards to clients. Perhaps an unintended, but beneficial benefit, is the fact that the use of FreQ has expanded out of the commercial team and is now being used by others. Namely presenters and producers who use the tool to review their programmes and discuss content and performance.

“We work with a range of clients. Some are small, some are complex. We have a general approach to understand what the problem is. Then, we will have a proof of concept and reduce the guesswork. The client can then sell that internally and provide confidence further up the chain,” Barnes added.

“Having that recognition shows the client is happy and winning this UK Cloud Awards accolade is an added bonus.”

Maggie Holland

Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.

Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.