Shazam deal aims to tie audio to products

NEW YORK — The choice of song has long been critical to a commercial’s success — think Fiona Apple singing “Pure Imagination” in a stirring Chipotle ad.

But with the increasing importance of the “second screen” — the use of smartphones and tablets while watching TV — a viewer’s connection to an ad can come through any kind of audio at all, whether it be a song or the sound of a beer being cracked open.

Many of these connections are made through Shazam, an audio-recognition app used by 80 million people each month to identify what song is playing on the radio or in the supermarket. Since Shazam was tied into a third of last year’s Super Bowl commercials, it has come to play a prominent role in advertising. Maybe you’ve seen its “S” icon flash on a TV ad with a suggestion to use the app for some extra content, anything from a song to a coupon.


On Monday, Shazam will announce a partnership with the giant media services agency Mindshare that could result in far more of those kinds of audio integrations through a new program called Audio+.

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It could also chart some new territory for the growing area of audio branding.

Norm Johnston, Mindshare’s chief digital officer, described audio as the next form of media to be claimed by brands: “That can be everything from the music you have playing in a TV spot to the sound of the actual product. It’s the sonic territory that the brand would like to own.”

Mindshare handles about $31 billion worth of media planning and buying each year for clients like Unilever, Nike, HSBC, and Jaguar Land Rover.