Shazam - Visualise the sound

Popular music app Shazam is about more than just finding new music; it has also lengthened its reach into television with Shazam Visual. Miles Lewis, senior vice-president, speaks to Packaging & Converting Intelligence about building an active community with which brands can engage.

Who are Shazam's key users, and how does the company use their feedback to inform future strategies and products?

Miles Lewis: Our active global community is constantly helping us improve Shazam. We have hundreds of millions of monthly users worldwide; 800 million people have used Shazam and 300 million people are active users. This amounts to roughly 20 million data points every day, which helps us continuously deliver the magic that users have come to expect.

Their use trends, behaviour and feedback dictate not just what we need to improve, but also the important ways in which we innovate to delight our users. We are always exploring new ways for users to connect and engage with the world around them; it is the users themselves who inform our next move. We cherish that synergy, and it's a big part of what has made us one of the most downloaded and highly rated apps of all time.

How did the concept of Shazam Visual come about?

Shazam is over 12 years old and is world renowned for its music-recognition capabilities, but we're not just about music. Shazam works with television, too, and we have hundreds of Shazam-enabled television advertisements around the world. 'Shazaming' in front of the television and in many other environments has become habitual, but we live in a visually driven world - the next natural evolution for us was to become a pioneer in the visual arena.

Using Shazam visually connects people to objects, places, events and more. By clicking on the camera icon in the Shazam app and aiming your phone at a visually enabled poster or piece of packaging, users can connect the physical to the digital world, creating a fully interactive consumer experience.

Shazam users are really enthusiastic about this capability; on top of the engagement and success we've already seen, nearly 90% of Shazam users say they are willing and interested in visually Shazaming the next time they are prompted to do so. As technology advances, we're right there with our community, helping them to connect to the world around them.

How do Shazam's packaging campaigns stand out from those of its competitors?

We strongly believe that one of the reasons QR codes didn't succeed was because consumers had to download an app they'd never heard of to use them, which created friction in the user experience right from the start. By eliminating the need to ask users to do this, we increase the chances of driving that engagement with a brand, because Shazam already has a huge audience that is ready to discover.

What's important for the brand to consider, however, is the value proposition you are offering a consumer. If you are not giving a consumer an appealing engagement opportunity, they're unlikely to engage, no matter what scale you have. If you're providing consumers with an engaging reason to connect, however, like a special offer for a competition or new discovery, you maximise the likelihood of the consumer engaging with your brand.

Experiences through Shazam also lead to social engagement, with consumers able to easily share their experience with friends and family. We understand that one of the biggest challenges facing content-owners and brands is how to engage their audience on mobile devices and, at Shazam, we specialise in connecting the physical world to the digital and social. Our users are discoverers by nature, and that, coupled with our technology and scale, gives us a distinct advantage over other technologies.

What brands has Shazam worked with in a visual capacity so far and how do you think interactive packaging will develop in the coming years?

We have an extensive list of brands we've worked with across vertical marketing globally in the past 18 months, including Coca-Cola, Gatorade, Disney, KFC, Cornetto, Magnum Mercedes, Absolut, BMW, McDonald's, Jean Paul Gaultier, Danone, Smirnoff, Clinique, Air New Zealand and Jeep - and the list keeps growing.

Smartphones are consumers' constant companions. They're likely the first thing they check in the morning and the last thing they check at night - not to mention how many times they might pick up their phones throughout the day. And, according to GlobalWebIndex, 56% of Shazam users feel more insecure without their mobile phone than their wallet. So, continuing to develop visual Shazam functionality remains key for us.

We're well established from a technical point of view, and we'll always be improving our offering. We believe that turning inanimate objects into rich experiences is the ultimate merging of traditional media with the next frontier. It will be an exciting journey and no one else is doing it like Shazam.

What insights and data can Shazam deliver from its visual technology?

Our baseline data highlights who is engaging, why they're engaging, and when and where in the world they're engaging, painting an amazing engagement map for any brand. What's also important to brands is understanding what content piques a consumer's interest and when, and we can help measure and extend that moment. We can also uniquely link music affinity to a brand, leveraging the insight we have into our users' music tastes.

We also work with many brands to enable Shazam in all their marketing materials, including television, cinema, print and packaging, allowing consumers to connect through multiple mediums. These '360° campaigns' not only enable consumers to engage through multiple channels, but also allow brands to measure and analyse engagements, and build future campaigns based on these insights.

What's next for Shazam?

We will continue to improve our offering, enabling consumers to engage with the world around them via various platforms, including television, radio, visual and out-of-home. Our plan will be to develop and nurture our global audience, where Shazaming as a method of discovery becomes habitual and part of the daily routine, just as it is in the music world. Shazam is committed to helping brands discover new and engaging ways to connect consumers to brands by being on the cutting edge of emerging tech and traditional media.

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