ComQi goes Shazam, but is it magical?

November 10, 2011 by Dave Haynes

I haven’t seen a release, but did see a DailyDOOH post up yesterday, as well as tweets from the vendor, trumpeting a deal between ComQi and Shazam – a mobile app that recognizes and identifies music files.

Shazam has a BIG user base among iOS and Android handset users who fire up the app when they hear a tune they like, but don’t know the musician. The app leads to revenue for the music companies through prompts to download that tune or album.

Shazam has, in recent months, entered the interactive TV market, suggesting people at home watching TV could fire the app up on their phones or tablets and listen for audio tags. What is on the TV screen can pop, as well, on a handheld screen when the app syncs up.

[youtube id=”QoUK9bq-XRU” width=”600″ height=”350″]

The premise here is that this sort of interactivity works in digital signage and digital out of home. A ComQi video suggests this represents a “revolution in digital signage.”

Well … let’s just see.

Shazam has some interesting potential around the house. My 21-year-old daughter rarely has her smartphone out of her hands, and I could see her firing up Shazam to tag something she saw on TV. As a hook to sync people’s smart devices to content, audio can be pretty effective in starting a two-way experience.

But outside the home, how do you deal with all the ambient sound, and the simple reality that many (most) networks don’t use audio? Shazam’s ability to capture a specific audio clip, when there is audio, is tough.

Then there’s the dynamics thing. These audio tags run into the same issue as QR codes in TV spots. There is an assumption/hope that people have better reaction times than gunfighters and can whip out a handset and fire up an app in the 10-15 second span of a typical digital signage/digital OOH ad spot or marketing message.

The other thing about this is what’s going on. The video suggests if you tie the big screen and little screen together, you get extended information on the product. It’s not interactive.

I have seen a couple of things lately that seem far more compelling for this medium. The ScreenReach guys, when I was in New York recently, showed me technology that takes into account location, content, and the context in which you are consuming that content.

Trying to explain what was going on is tough based on my 10-15 minutes of seeing it (plus I am stupid), but essentially markers in the big screen content were activating things like factoids, prompts and offers on a handset screen. So you were engaging with the screen.

I have also seen demos of stuff that was using handsets to basically be controllers for what’s on the screen.

So, ComQi should be applauded for pushing the envelope and trying new things. But I am not sure how the ComQi-Shazam thing will result in effective, real world applications. Certainly, calling this revolutionary is a reach.

Makes for good trade show announcement PR, though.


  1. Paul Bearer says:

    Trade show fluff in its highest form. Marginal attempt by Shazam to monetize, but it is probably less effective than a QR code, as you noted. The Comqi app adds zero value, as there is no apparent integration. The mobile app can’t be branded. Zzzzzzz

    Their hiring announcement was actually more newsworthy, and that should tell you how empty this release was.

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