Shazam Looks to Grow Ad Business With More Data, Branded Content

Music Recognition App Puts Advertising 'Front and Center'

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Credit: Courtesy Shazam

Shazam is looking to grow its advertising business by offering marketers insights into musical artists and creating new sponsorship opportunities.

For the most part, the music recognition app has kept the in-app experience relatively clean from marketers' messaging. While it runs banner ads and an occasional ad while users wait for results, it plans to monetize the screen in some new ways.

"Advertising had always been secondary, but now we are putting it front and center," said Greg Glenday, chief revenue officer, Shazam. "We are taking advertising seriously by adding stock and people. We sold ourselves short with the advertising industry by just selling banner ads and being transactional."

For most of Shazam's existence almost all revenue has come from things like downloads, carrier partnerships and affiliates, Mr. Glenday said. "For the first time ever, ad revenue is now the majority of our total revenue. There is tremendous momentum and we expect that advertising revenue will continue to be the fastest growing segment of our business."

Data will also be a critical part of Shazam's offering, dubbed "Shazam Brand Connect," which promises to help brands pinpoint which artists and musical genres they should align themselves with. Shazam can predict hits and give advertisers an early opportunity to associate with up-and-coming artists, Mr. Glenday said.

While Shazam has sold its data to record labels to help them find audiences, this is the first time it will turn its data into a product for marketers and agencies.

Shazam has created dashboards with customizable interfaces to allow for real-time global data around artists, genres, geographies and cultural moments, Mr. Glenday said.

Utilizing this data, marketers can then purchase interactive homepage takeovers, dubbed "clickable listening screen" and own the results for specific songs or artists. Brands can also be part of the listening experience if a user goes on to preview a track.

When Rihanna dropped "Work," the song was Shazamed by more than 2 million people in Brooklyn, N.Y. alone, Mr. Glenday said. Knowing this, a brand specifically looking to target people in Brooklyn could do a takeover of the song or artists with specific messaging, he said.

Mr. Glenday insists the new formats will not be intrusive to the consumer experience and that users will still receive the results they want without interruption.

Shazam is also getting into the live-events business, introducing its first event centered around emerging artists later this year. The event will have sponsorship opportunities.

The company has been providing TV commercial tagging, which allows marketers to add a second-screen experience to their TV ads; visual scanning, which gives users the ability to scan in-store packaging, print and outdoor ads; and utilizing beacons to make events "Shazam-able." It will roll all of these capabilities into Shazam Brand Connect.

Earlier this month, Coca-Cola launched its "Share a Coke and a Song" campaign, which uses the first-ever Shazam-enabled bottles. When consumers scan lyrics on specially marked bottles and signage, they can record a digital lip-sync video and share their creations on social media with the hashtag #ShareaCoke.

Shazam for Brands will also be the official music partner of the 2016 Cannes Lions, where it will program the music in between sessions and also allow users to get information about speakers and sessions.

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