Nuance Communications Shares Jump on Icahn Investment, Launch of Voice Ads

Andrew Klips  |

The booming mobile advertising business is ready to take the next step to get the attention of consumers, thanks to Nuance Communications, Inc. (NUAN). The Burlington, Massachusetts-based company is best known for its voice communication technologies as well as other imaging and keypad solutions, but Nuance is now marrying its core competencies with the advertising business with the launch of Voice Ads.

According to Nuance, Voice Ads “lets people have a two-way conversation with the brands they love.” A little bit like Apple’s (AAPL) Siri in the way that users can ask their mobile device questions and get answer, Voice Ads is the first to market in the advertising realm.

An example of the magic 8 ball that appears to kick-off the ad:

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Voice Ads, which is now available for mobile ad platform and network providers as a software development kit, utilizes voice input, location awareness and other technologies in an effort to better engage consumers. New York Times best-selling author and branding expert Martin Lindstrom has called Voice Ads “a game changer” because allows brands to have a personal dialogue with users.

“Compelling user experiences are critical to mobile advertising – you have only a few seconds to capture the interest of a demographic that is always on the go, multitasking, and seeking instant gratification. Voice Ads engages multiple senses while creating an even stronger emotional connection through conversation with a brand,” said Brett Leary, vice president of the mobile business at ad agency Digitas.

Digitas, along with other advertising companies like OMD and Jumptap have partnered with Nuance to help bring the new technology to market.

Shares of NUAN tanked in February when the company missed on first-quarter earnings and lowered their outlook, diving as low as $18 after being up near $25. Meanwhile, analysts at Oppenheimer (OPY) reiterated their Buy rating and upped their price target from $30 to $34.

Shares closed flat on the day, but got their giddy-up going in extended hours after CNBC reported that billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn has taken a 9.27 percent passive stake in Nuance.

Shares swelled in after-market trading to near $22 each, representing gains of about 8.5 percent from the closing price.

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