Broadcasters must be tired of hearing from industry analysts, journalists and vendors that they must wake up to the second screen and start providing compelling apps that exploit its power.
Latest to dish out opprobrium is London-based Shazam, which certainly has a vested interest as a provider of second-screen synchronization technology. Shazam provides audio recognition by capturing a fingerprint comprising a few-second sample and comparing it with a database, and originally applied it just to music recognition within an app for the iPhone, Android, Windows Phone and other devices.
It exploits the device’s microphone to capture the sample for comparison and elicit information about the song currently playing, such as artist and title, and displays this on the device screen. But, audio fingerprints can also uniquely identify video content, and so Shazam has more recently extended its market to second-screen applications, and cannot really complain about lack of interest from broadcasters.
UK Free-To-Air commercial broadcaster ITV successfully delivered advertising enabled by Shazam’s audio recognition during the final of the "Britain’s Got Talent" show in May 2012. According to ITV, about 50,000 viewers used the Shazam App to tag Pepsi Max and Cadbury ads in 60 seconds of airtime during special ad breaks during the show.
Viewers who had Shazam on their smartphones were able to enter contests to win summer music festival tickets from Pepsi Max and an Olympic Ceremony package from Cadbury, as well as participate in the conversation on social networks. The Pepsi Max "Crowd Surfing" football ad also included the chance to win other prizes, free merchandise and a link to download the Calvin Harris music track "Let’s Go."
More recently, Microsoft ran a Shazam-enabled TV ad campaign in the UK for the Internet Explorer browser. This ad, called "Beauty of the Web," featured the track "Too Close" by musician Alex Clare, generating a Shazam on-air prompt to let people know they could use the app to view live performances and interviews with Clare. They could also enter a competition to see Clare perform live in London.
With over 200 Shazam-enabled ad campaigns now having taken place, it is hard to identify what Shazam’s complaints are, unless it is that broadcasters and advertisers are moving too slowly. In fact, it looks like Shazam’s criticism is leveled outside its home market towards the U.S., judging by comments made by its CTO Jason Titus at the recent OTTtv World Summit in London.