Shazam to Power Up to a Third of Super Bowl Ads

Sound recognition app now directs viewers to more content, deals

Shazam, the novel app iPhone once used as a selling point for its App Store, is in monetization mode.

And with 175 million downloads and $32 million in venture backing, the company’s going beyond its simple, original mission of “name that tune.” With that kind of scale, Shazam has its sights set above mobile ads (the standard money maker for apps, which is still a relatively small slice of an ad budget) and into the big money: television.

Shazam now identifies ads and uses its app to direct users into a branded interaction. In 2010, Shazam was featured in one Super Bowl ad. “Last year, no one would bet their Super Bowl spot on a test. Fifty campaigns and millions of interactions later, up to a third of the spots will be Shazam-able,” said Evan Krauss, evp of advertising at the company. Client names aren’t available until the Super Bowl advertising embargo lifts on Feb. 2, but Shazam has been particularly active with auto and entertainment advertisers, he said. Through ad campaigns with at least 17 clients, this Super Bowl will be the most “Shazam-able” yet. Up to one-third of the ads will use Shazam, Krauss said. 

Shazam’s first Super Bowl ad on Shazam for TV, where its app identifies a commercial by sound and directs users to more content, information, coupons or giveaways, was an experimental giveaway for Dockers. Roughly 20,000 users Shazam-ed the ad, Krauss said. In the last year, the company has run campaigns from the likes of Old Navy, Bud Light and Unilever for more than 2 million interactions with consumers.

Often Shazam capabilities are indicated by a logo on the screen, but sometimes the ad’s creative works in a mention from the spot’s stars. Axe Body Spray recently used Shazam to direct users to “uncensored” versions of its “Premature Perspiration” spots. Funny content and giveaways are the biggest drivers of engagement, Krauss said. Advertisers have also opted to share content like recipes or free song downloads with Shazam-ers.

When more advertisers begin offering mobile shopping options, Shazam for TV campaigns increasingly will be able to close the loop on conversions, said Krauss. Currently, campaigns deliver a 350 percent increase in engagement over ads with a social call to action such as “Fan us on Facebook” or “Follow us on Twitter.”