Voice recognition and advertising
Yet another interesting article in today's NY Times – "Listening to Phone Calls and Tailoring Ads".
The article describes the service recently launched by Pudding Media that provides free phone calls from your PC to regular phone lines in exchange for presenting ads to you during the call.
Pudding Media uses voice recognition software during the call coupled with basic demographic information about you (captured at sign up such as age, gender, native language and ZIP code) to tailor the ads that are presented on the PC client during the call.
Pudding Media intends to price ads using a cost-per-click model. Using voice recognition to tailor ads is a very interesting idea and yet another way to monetize a free service through advertising.
It remains to be seen how end users will tolerate this kind of relevance profiling but I suspect for many users this will be a non-issue in exchange for free phone service. Pudding Media faces plenty of competition as the market for low cost to free phone service is very crowded with low cost alternatives that are ad-free including SkypeOut.