Shazam’s Super Bowl Launch Party: Free Cars, Live Stats and Exclusive Music

Shazam will cap its transition from a simple music app to a TV companion offering in-depth ad links and more will culminate with Sunday’s Super Bowl

Shazam announced Thursday that the entire Super Bowl, the halftime show and almost half of the advertisements during the game can be tagged using its app, making this the first “Shazamable Super Bowl.’ 

If any of the more than 100 million people who'll tune into the game use the app to tag a play or an ad, they can access live statistics, unlock new immersive advertising experiences or qualify for sweepstakes.

Its advertising partners will include heavyweights Pepsi, Disney and Anheuser-Busch.

Shazam, which boasts a user base of more than 175 million people worldwide, has chosen the year’s biggest TV event as a launching point for its growing “Shazam for TV” business. The message to networks and advertisers everywhere is clear: Shazam makes TV better.

“The big story Sunday during the game and Monday at the water cooler and in executive offices around the country will be that so many of the advertisements in the Super Bowl were Shazamable,” said David Jones, EVP of marketing at Shazam. “This will be the year of the Shazamable TV ad.”

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Jones has obvious reasons to trumpet his own product, but Shazam’s ubiquity during the Super Bowl, watched by 111 million people in the U.S. last year, does validate the big shift his company has taken over the past two years.

Shazam began as an app for tagging music. If you heard a song, you could open up the app and it would tell you the song title and artist.

Then Shazam added extra features, like the ability to buy the song or to get additional information about the artist. Shazam generated revenue though the song purchases – netting a sliver of iTunes and Amazon’s profits — and by charging for premium versions of its app.

But that wasn’t enough. Sensing that users were often on a second device while watching television – in particular their mobile phones – Shazam moved into that “second screen” space hoping to engage viewers of both advertisements and TV shows.

At the 2010 Super Bowl, Shazam debuted its first Shazamable TV ad, which used the same audio recognition technology for video content. Users could tag a Dockers Jeans ad and unlock new content related to the product and the company.

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Since then, Shazam has partnered with everyone from Dockers to Paramount for ad campaigns, giving users the chance to enter sweepstakes, find out more about the company or watch exclusive videos.

With “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” users who Shazam’d the trailer unlocked a custom song and trailer, as well as bonus videos produced by Michael Bay.

Shazam has also partnered with a dozen television series, such as USA’s “Royal Pains” and “Covert Affairs.” In the case of “Royal Pains,” users gained access to “never-before-seen videos, downloadable wallpapers” and other goodies.

The goal is to boost engagement, and its partners say that has happened.

“We Shazam’d every single episode and saw participation grow not just with live viewing but with upwards of 50 percent to 60 percent on DVR viewing,” Jessie Redniss, SVP of Digital at USA told TheWrap about last summer’s season of “Royal Pains.” By participation he means users unlocking that content, tweeting about the show and so on.

Shazam just announced three new TV series partnerships with SyFy’s “Being Human,” USA’s “Psych” and E!’s “The Soup.”

“It’s born out of necessity,” Dave Martin, SVP of Media at the Ignited ad agency.

“If three out of four iPad owners have their iPad in their hands while watching TV, why would any content creator restrict themselves to building content on one screen if now they have two to work with?”

Social TV and the second screen are two buzzwords likely to become household phrases in 2012, and Shazam has made an aggressive move into that market, joining others like GetGlue and IntoNow.

While Shazam does not get any money from a TV network for integrating its app into a show – the exposure is enough – advertisers pay the company in the high six-figures, Jones said.

Because Shazam has launched this aggressive expansion, the company remains in the investment stage and is not yet profitable. It raised $32 million last June to build out all sides of its business.

Jones said the company’s next revenue goal is $100 million, and though he would not say when he thought it could reach that goal, he said “the business is on fire right now.”

“Xbox snuck in as a gaming platform and now it’s the fourth largest set top box in world,” Lori Schwartz, Chief Technology Catalyst at McCann Worldgroup told TheWrap. “That Shazam snuck in as music listening and has now transformed into a TV companion that can deliver advertising is brilliant, just brilliant.”

This year’s Super Bowl will be the most high-profile example of that strategy with Shazamable ads from Toyota, Pepsi and Best Buy. So are campaigns for Relativity's “Act of Valor” and Disney's “John Carter." Users can unlock photos and videos or enter a contest to win two Toyota Camrys.

If a viewer Shazams the screen at any time the game is on, they can access statistics, and if one uses the app during the halftime show, there will be a special offer that is being kept under wraps.

Shazam’s successful infiltration of the TV space does beg one question: why do these other companies need Shazam? After all, the advertisers and film studios – content creators themselves – could create exclusive content or marketing promotions on their own.

Besides Shazam’s audio sync technology, the answer is scale.

“Partnering with Shazam provides us with immediate scale,” Redniss said. “We’re talking about 10 percent to 15 percent of the viewership of one of our shows that already has it, versus trying to launch a brand new user base starting from zero. We’d rather talk to 60 million people [Shazam’s U.S. user base] than nobody.”

Now that Shazam has put its mark all over the Super Bowl, it is anything but a nobody.