CES 2013: Shazam adds TV (and TV ads) to its music finding service
Shazam's Executive Vice President of Marketing, David Jones, kindly found some time to meet up with me during CES 2013 today, and we chatted about what the company has been up to lately. You probably remember Shazam from their very early days on the iPhone as a music-finding app (you can use the app to "listen" to any music you hear, and it will tell you the artist and title of the song), but in the past few years the company has grown to be a lot more than that. Specifically, instead of just finding music, Jones says the big push for the company lately is in recognizing television shows and television ads.
The company's two biggest news stories out of CES have nothing to do with iOS: The Shazam app is going to come pre-installed on a series of Android phones, and the service is also joining the QNX car audio architecture. But both of those new developments are really signals that Shazam has grown way beyond its now humble iOS roots. The app can now be used to identify any television broadcast, and the company has joined up with over 200 brands, and more all the time, to try and make every TV ad "Shazam-able" as well. Jones said that Shazam not only fingerprints every broadcast, but even the specific time of every broadcast, so the company can know exactly when and where you set the app to listen in.
"We can make TV ads, for the first time ever, interactive," Jones told me. Shazam's monetization strategy is a patchwork quilt of different deals and techniques: Generally, the company will make content "Shazamable" for free, but will then ask the broadcaster to somehow mention (either via a quick explanation or just a logo on the bottom of the screen) that Shazam is enabled. As a result, says Jones, Shazam has picked up about 10 billion impressions from TV in the last year, which not only drives users back to the iOS app, but also just raises awareness among users that they can "Shazam" shows and ads. Shazam also deals in sponsorships and advertising, and will sometimes make money off of referral links directly into iTunes or other marketplaces.
As Shazam has opened up into tracking more and more content, the company's technology has gotten better as well. Right around this time last year, the company started doing "live ingestion" which means that as soon as something was broadcast, it could be identified by the app. And better search and find algorithms mean that identifying a broadcast is faster than ever.
When Shazam actually finds your program, it provides you with a list of options and content related to it. For TV shows, it can pull up cast information, or, Jones says, a very popular option that lists music heard in the show. Sportscasts are one of the most Shazam-ed forms of content, and when those shows are brought up, Shazam can show sports scores around the league, and can even time them out to the exact point in the broadcast that Shazam was listening in (if a user happened to be watching a game on DVR, for example, and didn't want the results of other games spoiled).
Live music shows are another popular choice for Shazamed content, and awards shows are big as well: Jones expects a lot of traffic for the upcoming Golden Globes show. Of course the Super Bowl is a big win for Shazam, and Jones says we can expect the app to show up in the worldwide broadcast at some point (though he said details on exactly what that will entail are still being kept secret for now).
Jones says there's still plenty of room to grow for Shazam. The company has done all of this pushing on TV and ads even while keeping its music-finding business going (and growing), so that part of the app is still very important. 2013, said Jones, will likely be dedicated to continuing to grow the TV ads business, but there are plenty of other places for Shazam to go, including radio, and even inside retail stores (so you could hold a phone up in a retail store, and automatically get information about not only the music playing, but any current sales or promotions on what you're shopping for). Shazam started out early on the iPhone with its music history, but there's a lot more left for this company to do.
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