Unwired Nation launched a service today turns online content into an audio podcast so that users listen to the content in their car, at the gym or any other place they carry their phone.
Coincidentally, another new company, BlueGrind.com, offers a similar service. It lets you find an RSS feed for your favorite site, and the converts text content into an MP3 file and submits it to iTunes. For blog and other site owners, it is useful too. It places the audio version into a player that can be embedded into the site, so each article will have a “play” button. Users can then listen to articles one after another while surfing the Web.
They both plan to make money the same way: advertising with the audio. Unwired will insert ads into the content, which it also gets via an RSS feed from publishers. It will let publishers serve their own ads, rotating so that UnWired and the publisher both make money. Publishers can also trade this right amongst themselves, paying for advertising inventory in another publisher’s feed if they so choose.
Other services exist to translate text, but they’ve been expensive, and cater mainly to large businesses. Unwired and BlueGrind are free, and are going after the masses.
UnWired of Austin, Texas company, has raised slightly more than $7 million in two rounds from Gefinor Ventures, Accent Texas, Aegis Texas Venture Fund, DFJ Mercury and other investors. It has partnered with Pheedo to help it to serve ads into the vocalized feeds. It also announced partnerships with uShip, an online marketplace for shipping services, Zooven, a real estate search engine that will use Unwired to distribute lead information to real estate agents, and Loanables, a neighbor-to-neighbor borrowing network.
UnWired Nations’ original product, UnWired Buyer for eBay, has let millions of people bid on eBay auctions over mobile phones. The latest service allows touch tone interaction, to allow publishers to guide users through the content.
BlueGrind is similar in its advertising strategy. It will insert an ad after introducing the article’s headline. Vick Madenian, VP of product management, told us the company wants to be the “Google of audio ads.” The Pasadena, Calif. company is bootstrapped (no outside funding), and launched in January.
Here’s an example of how it works with WordPress.