Shazam tunes in to second-screen advertising in the UAE

Shazam said it had 475 million users globally, with 3.7 million users in the Middle East, but it expected that figure to double in the next year.

Eighty-six per cent of the UAE’s smartphone owners, and 81 per cent of Saudi Arabia’s owners, use their phones while watching TV. Simon Dawson / Bloomberg
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You may know Shazam as a music identification app, but its business plan is centred on advertising revenues related to the crossover between mobile devices and TV, and it is hoping to shake up the advertising industry in the region with its bespoke content.

The app identifies snatches of music from the radio, TV or ambiently and identifies the song or tune for the user, also supplying additional information such as where the music could be bought.

That, however, is not where Shazam earns most of its money.

The app’s ability to identify pieces of music has found an advertising niche that enables advertisers to connect with Shazam users through “second screen” advertising immediately and less expensively than TV.

Second screen refers to the use of a mobile device to provide an enhanced viewing experience when watching TV.

Shazam builds related content into its app that is activated when a viewer tags a particular TV show, or events such as the Super Bowl.

Connect Ads, a subsidiary of OTVentures, a digital media company, has signed an exclusive agreement to bring Shazam’s second screen advertising to the UAE.

“Consumers absolutely love Shazam and marketers and brand managers are passionate about its possibilities,” said Fadi Antaki, the chief executive of OTVentures.

“We expect it to make a big push in connecting TV networks and advertisers with consumers on their second screens – their smartphones or tablets.”

Shazam said it had 475 million users globally, with 3.7 million users in the Middle East, but it expected that figure to double in the next year.

Eighty-six per cent of the UAE’s smartphone owners, and 81 per cent of Saudi Arabia’s owners, use their phones while watching TV, according to Omnicom Media Group, and tablet owners were even more immersed in their devices while watching TV.

Research from OTVentures suggested consumers in the Saudi and UAE markets owned up to four digital devices, and 91 per cent and 86 per cent of residents in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, respectively, watched TV every day.

The growing millennial – population under 25 – audience in the region suggests the second screen would become an important advertising battleground.

“There is so much development in the area of additional layers of content for traditional advertising that the dust has yet to settle to produce a clear dominant player,” said Dara Maher, the director of planning at the advertising and marketing firm OMD UAE.

“Shazam is certainly an interesting solution to connect brands with consumers and provide an integrated experience across other media. It’s not the only one and its market performance will be dictated by its ability to improve the experience for users and performance for advertisers.”

The saturation of digital devices and the growing ownership of smart TVs is driving the advertising and marketing industries further from traditional fields as products are designed to connect ever closer with their audiences.

“The dual-screen habit is not only significant but also growing. It won’t stop here as the triple-screen habit is also growing,” said Mr Maher.

ascott@thenational.ae

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