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Shazam Wants You to Hold the Phone Up to the TV

Posted by: Rachael King on December 6, 2011

By Adam Satariano

Shazam Entertainment Inc., maker of that nifty tool that lets people identify songs they can’t recognize, wants TV viewers to start using the service, too.

The startup is teaming with companies including General Mills, News Corp. and Gap’s Old Navy to give Shazam’s 165 million users a way to get discounts or more information on products in TV commercials. To make it work, the user holds up an iPhone, iPad or Google Android device when Shazam’s blue logo comes on screen during a commercial — and then activates the sound-recognition app to get a promotion or additional content.

An advertisement for “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” for instance, gives Shazam users added information about the crooning rodents. A campaign with General Mills Pillsbury Crescents delivers recipes.

“We’ve got such critical mass with people using Shazam for music that it opens the doors to expanding, as we have, into television,” David Jones, Shazam’s executive vice president of marketing, told me in an interview.

U.K.-based Shazam, named after the comic book wizard who gave Captain Marvel his powers, is going after the growing proportion of people who watch TV while also futzing with a tablet or smartphone. EBay is building software that makes it easier for consumers to buy things they see on TV, a technology my colleague Danielle Kucera wrote last month. Viacom’s MTV Networks is adding features that help fans of “Jersey Shore” or other shows use handhelds to find additional content.

After landing $32 million in venture capital funding in June, the company is adding 80 new sales and engineering staff to spearhead the effort, which it expects to eventually be more lucrative than its music features, Jones said. Shazam is getting help in the TV effort from former Yahoo! vice president Jason Titus, hired last year as chief technology officer, Jones said.

Shazam, whose backers include venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, generates revenue mainly from its app sales, referrals to iTunes and Inc.’s music store and advertising within its mobile applications. With television, the company partners with a brand for campaigns that are each worth “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Jones said, without being more specific.

“Brand advertising for the first time can be easily turned in to direct response advertising, which means people can engage in a matter of seconds with one button in getting more information about that product or brand or shopping from their couch,” he said.

Reader Comments


December 7, 2011 11:24 AM

Surprised you didn't mention Into_Now, which has built a community around 30 sampling then identifying TV shows, who's watching etc on the iPhone/iPad.

It leads to ratings, comments, community, etc.

i'm sure 3. Profit! is eventual too.



December 7, 2011 2:49 PM

Good luck opening the app and syncing for 20 seconds to a 30 second Ad


December 7, 2011 3:55 PM

It would make sense for image recognition to be integrated!!


December 7, 2011 10:48 PM

This is the end of this app as we know it. It's nowhere near as good as SoundHound anyway but now they sold out to TV ads? The reason these apps work is because they solve a problem for the user. What problem are you solving that users have with adverts?

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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