Adspace Enters Tech Partnership For In-Mall Push Marketing Using Shazam

November 17, 2014 by Dave Haynes


The dominant shopping mall digital OOH player in the U.S., Adspace Networks, has announced a technology partnership with Shazam, the company most known for its app that identifies music for people wanting to identify the song or the artist.

The tech partnership is for related technology, in which the players driving Adspace screens will issue a steady ultra-sonic watermark signal that phones loaded with Shazam’s app can pick up, when they are within a max range of 40 feet.

The news release is very light on technical details, but here’s how Adspace says (on its website) this stuff works: An on-screen message will pop on the user’s phone, encouraging them to “unlock an advertiser’s custom mobile experience.” The experience might be:

Content is location-specific, so advertisers can  target campaigns by demographic, DMA, or even by mall. Adspace Networks is in more than 210 malls and has some 2,800 screens, reaching 58 million unique shoppers each month.

This is Shazam’s move into retail and part of a broader move beyond the pure audio=recognition side of its business. “At Shazam, our goal is to put the power of discovery into the hands of our millions of users wherever they are – whether it’s at home or on the go,” says Rich Riley, CEO, Shazam. “With our latest launch, we’re excited to move into the mall environment for the first time, offering a whole platform for brands and consumers to connect in a meaningful way.”

“The marriage of mobile and location-based video just makes sense,” says Dominick Porco, CEO, Adspace Networks Inc. “Now, through our partnership with Shazam, we are able to offer our advertisers a seamless way to retarget their ads and extend their content to consumers’ smartphones.”

I guess we’ll see how this goes. It’s an interesting new thing for the Adspace sales team to initiate meetings and bring in to discussions with planners and their brand clients. But then again, ultrasonic messaging is not all that new. Industry veteran John Kirkpatrick has been marketing something similar called SonicPing for more than a year (though his company is fraction of the scale and financing of Shazam).

Comqi also announced a partnership with Shazam about three years ago, but I’m not at all sure how well that stuck.

Given that the tone can emanate from an existing media player, the cost to add this on would be pretty minimal – which also makes the capital and operating risk minimal. Different story if you have to buy and deploy new gears across 200+ malls.

Then there’s the broader question of consumer response, and whether they are happy to get these messages on their phones. In many respects the “experience” is similar to that of old-school bluetooth proximity marketing, which didn’t really go anywhere. The newer Bluetooth Low Energy beacon technology can also do this, but if you listen to the people who really know beacons, they tend to discourage push marketing.

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