Shazam everything: a future full of ads and Shazaming [MEF]

Rich Riley

This is our reality. We want our mobile device to have the answer to pretty much every question we can conceive — and so, people build apps to answer them.

“People use less than 20 apps,” Shazam CEO Rich Riley said at MEF Global Forum. He should know — his app is one of the 20 apps people are using. Why? It’s simple, because Shazam figured this out earlier on and made music discovery more enjoyable.

For Riley, Shazam was global from the start, as the 10th most popular app in the world. He says the company has to “fight daily to stay on top”.

“A lot of companies in the top 10, such as Facebook and Twitter, have the resources to be there and we have to compete in that space,” says Riley.

The company doesn’t seem to be struggling too much in terms of discovery and usage with 80-million active users globally — only 22-million of those are in the United States. Riley says being a global brand helps, and that it was always meant to be that way because music is global.

“For us we needed to follow the app stores and its global deployment. Having close ties with operating systems and their app stores helped us meet the audience,” he says.

Problems in Asia but winning in France

Riley says Shazam is seeing a lot of growth particularly in Western Europe — Shazam is apparently big in France. There were an impressive 50-million Shazams last month.

“We are partnering with operators in Latin America to have our app preloaded on devices and that will help our use case. Right now Asia is a hard market for us and we are trying to figure it out,” he says.

Riley reckons that the company’s Asia issue could be linked to a number of things but the key question is always: what is the recognition rate?

“We have teams searching for music we don’t have, we add over a million new tracks each month. Our Asia problem could be linked to a number of things, we are deeply integrated with Facebook and Twitter, and because those are quite foreign there, it makes it difficult.”

Breaking through and Shazam everything!

If people are using only 20 apps a day, figuring out how to break through in new markets is quite hard. Riley seems to see the solution in platform apps that leverage users to connect to content.

“We have to ask how do we extend the use case for the company? We are recommending music and showing different content, how do you get people to Shazam other things? So we are partnering with networks to move into television, such as X factor where we ask people to Shazam during the show to vote,” says Riley.

Riley argues that although Shazaming everything is the future, the company will never take away its core use case: a way to identify music. “We will always do that but we will also add other things,” he says.

At the end of the day, Shazam is a way to connect your smart device to media around you. Shazam recently included ad tagging to its offering in an effort to expand its revenue stream, which up until now has been commerce heavy with music sales and in-app ad serving.

Advertising is our future, long live ads

According to Riley, Shazamable ads on television is not just about Shazaming but giving users a unique experience.

“We want to add to our offering,” he says. “With ads we want to use Shazams to target apps through native advertising.”

Shazam wants to get smarter about how ads are served to its users and Riley reckons that through partnerships the company can do exactly that.



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