There is no question that Shazam designs some of the world’s most popular apps, with an estimated 300 million people using them across all platforms, since the service launched in 2002. And according to Shazam’s executive vice president of marketing, David Jones, around 200 million of those having used it in the last year.
Now Shazam are set to wow app audiences with their new and revamped iPad app, that includes a brand new feature that can automatically identify TV shows, advertisements and music, instead of their usual practice of waiting for people to tag them themselves manually.
The auto-tagging feature will run silently in the background to identify shows, ads and music on a newly designed second screen, and on the redesigned homescreen, it will be easier for people to catch up with their Facebook friends, see what they have been watching and listening to, and the new app will also be able to plot tag charts on a map of the world, showing what is popular in specific parts of the world.
And the iPad app is not the only platform that Shazam are targeting, with plans to offer similar features on Android tablets within the next few months, they are also planning to add these new features to the company’s iPhone and Android smartphone apps later this year.
Shazam has seen a massive surge of growth via it’s app on the iPad, as Jones tells the Guardian: “We have seen triple-digit growth over the last year for our existing iPad app, even though we haven’t really aggressively promoted it.”
He also talks about the recent research carried out by NPD Group in the US on the growth of people using second screens while watching TV. The results showed that of 3,387 people questioned, 87% said that they used at least one second-screen device while watching TV, whilst 49% of them admitted using a tablet compared to 55% who used a smartphone and 50% went on their computers.
The auto-tagging feature will work in different ways, depending on which country you are in, for example, in the US, Shazam will be able to identify any show on any TV channel, whereas in other parts of the world, users will be limited to those where a deal exists between the broadcaster and Shazam, the Brit Awards earlier in 2013 is an example.
Jones says: “For the time being it’s select television shows in the UK, but over time we want to expand that to every channel,” he added, “Music is still our bread and butter, but more than 10m people have Shazammed television in the last year. Those are real and meaningful numbers for networks, brands and advertising agencies.”
There are some people who see the new revamped app as yet another way of garnering information about the user, and ask, will it give accurate results if the tagging is passive, as with manual tagging, people are actively using the app to find out what a song is or what the TV show is all about. With passive auto-tagging, there will be a lot of data captured that might not be particularly relevant to the user.
But Jones has already thought about that problem, he says: “We’ve thought long and hard about that. If you open or favourite a piece of content that’s in the carousel, we’re going to consider that a tag: a piece of content of interest. If the device just auto-tags it and it stays unopened, we’ll treat it as something that wasn’t of interest to you.”
And he insists that the new app is not another way of capturing consumer data: “We’re not trying to do anything like audience measurement on a grand scale across our user base. We’re only interested in what our consumers actually engage in, not what auto-tagging may pick up around you,” he adds, “We’re already sitting on a goldmine of data, and we’re being respectful and thoughtful about how we monetise that.”
Jones thinks that the Shazam app could be taken much further, creatively and interactively: “We think of iPad as just a bigger canvas for our brands and agency partners to paint on,” he says. “If you think about making a television advert interactive, it’s wonderful to be able to do it on a smartphone, but even better to do it on a bigger 10-inch iPad or seven-inch iPad mini.”