Radio industry readies Shazam style ad tagging

Digital radio body RadioDNS is developing plans that would allow customers to tag audio content they’re listening to in their cars, one of several measures mooted aimed at making it easier for advertisers to evaluate their digital radio spend. 


The body’s global membership, which includes UK commercial  broadcasters Absolute, Bauer and Global Radio, as well as the BBC, is currently debating a proposed technical framework for a “time-shfting” service called RadioTAG, that will let audiences tag a programme, or ad, they’re interested in.  

‘RadioTAG’ can then notify the listener of the programming they’ve tagged, either email or an in-app notification, with further information – such as more product information, an album listing, or details of an artist’s upcoming gig.  

Broadcasters are particularly interested in encouraging automotive manufacturers to implement such standards as they prepare to mass produce vehicles with internet connections – or “connected cars” – so they can tag such content via specific buttons in the new breed of vehicles.  

Nick Piggott, chairman of RadioDNS, says: “We see this playing well to the ambient way that people listen to radio while in a vehicle. For instance, if you’re in a a car and you cannot stop, but you hear something that you’re interested in, then you press a button and then that moment of interest is captured and you can come back to it later. 

“This could potentially go beyond [music and TV recognition service] Shazam, as it can recognise content, be it speech content, an advert or absolutely anything.”  

Piggott told Marketing Week the trade organisation is in contact with a number of automotive and smartphone manufacturers to adopt the eventual proposed standards with an agreed framework to move ahead hopefully in place by the end of the year.  

“We’re in the process of refining that down at the moment but I’d like for RadioDNS to be displaying how to do it by the end of the year. As a standards body that sits at the intersection of radio and technology, all we can do is light the touchpaper and see how many come,” he adds.  

Broadcasters see RadioTAG as a potential means of increasing the value of  digital radio audiences – now accounting for over a third (34.3 per cent) of all UK listening hours according to RAJAR – by being able to draw a more direct link between ads aired on such channels and consumer behaviours.  

“We know that radio ads affect the behaviour of a listener, but the relationship of someone hearing a radio ad and then doing something about it is a little bit nebulous [with existing metrics],” he says.  

However, with such a service broadcasters can then help brands plot a purchase path between their on-air ads, or programming, and audience interaction – be it a further enquiry or an online purchase.   

Under the current plans it will be down to an individual broadcaster on how they trace audiences’ conversion rates, either using cookie-based tracking or by other means.  

“Once we’ve done the standardised part of telling every car manufacturer [and broadcaster] well this is how you make it work, then they are free to decide how they do it,” adds Piggott.   

RadioDNS is an international trade body, consisting mainly of broadcasters, that attempts to introduce technical frameworks to accommodate the roll out of hybrid radio services that deliver content via digital audio broadcast (DAB) technology. It then also helps serve ads using internet protocol (IP), similar to how they are online, to offer improved targeting to advertisers.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here