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ITV saw 50,000 viewers tag its first Shazam-enabled ads within 60 seconds during the Britain’s Got Talent final last weekend. ITV’s group commercial sales director Simon Daglish spoke to new media age about the importance of dual-screen technologies and its next steps with Shazam.
What attracted you to Shazam out of all the new technologies available?
There are a huge number of second-screen opportunities that come to us. Our own research has shown our audiences are increasingly interested in interacting with shows, with particular demand around ones like X Factor. We knew the Shazam audio-recognition technology worked – it is the best in the world at what it does and it has a proven track record in the US. So of all the second-screen technologies out there, it has the best traction. Zeebox still has very small interaction rates, but Shazam has millions of registered users in the UK – it already has a substantial, active user base.
What did you learn from running the first two Shazam-enabled ads with Cadbury and Pepsi?
From the tests we learned that it is critical the clients have robust websites that can deal with the increased level of traffic. A site that has relatively low levels of interaction could suddenly have 50,000 people coming to it within 30 seconds, so from a technical point of view, it must be pretty robust and be able to handle a large amount of traffic in a short amount of time.
We learned several other things too. For example, the length of time we ran the Shazam logo on the ads affected interaction rates – we found these increased when we introduced the logos at intervals rather than running them continuously.
What will be your next steps be with Shazam?
The second stage will be to talk to our advertisers about UEFA Euro 2012, to see what levels of interaction they want. This is an experiment for us. Obviously we want it to be very successful, but personally I was not expecting the first results to be as high as they were for the first ads – I was expecting between 10,000 and 20,000 – so we are thrilled with the 50,000 users. We didn’t promote it at all really, and also people would have had had to have their phones ready and then download the app if they didn’t have it already – everything was against it, and yet it had massive success.
There is no reason why we can’t have every single advertiser on ITV with Shazam-enabled ads – that’s a dream rather than an aim, but there is nothing to stop it really.
In the US, Shazam has been integrated into editorial content as well as ads, are you looking to do the same?
It is a natural progression now we have tested it and it has been successful, to talk to the programme makers and look at integrating Shazam into programmes. It is more likely to work for specific genres, such as shiny-floor entertainment and sports.
Can you give an example of how this would work and what the benefits could be?
There could be a million examples of how you could do it, and those are yet to be established. But, hypothetically, if we take Britain’s Got Talent as an example, there is the potential to tag the show for extra content. So if you were voting for Pudsy the famous dog, you could get extra content about his trick, or tips on how to train your dog to walk on two legs. You could get all sorts of fun information back from the show. You could potentially tap into a behind-the-scenes camera and watch activity on Britain’s Got Talent and X Factor. The opportunities are limitless, the only thing that limits it is our imagination.
Will advertisers need to be bolder in exploring the full capabilities of Shazam-enabled ads?
First, advertisers want to know that it is going to be a success. Although it is very early days, we have seen it has been successful and that will give them more confidence. Second, if they are going to carry an ad, they need to offer something compelling for the viewer, there is not point in having a Shazam-enabled ad and then taking the user through to a landing page that doesn’t have anything very interesting on it, that would be pretty pointless.
It won’t necessarily suit every advertiser out there, but we could have sold those first two spots 15 times over – that’s how many want to be involved. And going into the Euros, we have a large number of brands interested in working with us and Shazam around that. So I don’t think there will be any shortage of brands wanting to trial this. Our job is to ensure it is a success for them – the key element is to offer the viewer something that is unusual, something they want and that is of real value to them.
How involved will you be in advising clients on how to capitalise on the full potential of Shazam?
It will depend. The two clients we worked with for Britain’s Got Talent were Cadbury’s, which is an Olympics partner so knew what it wanted to achieve, and Pepsi, which had lots of extra content it wanted to showcase. There may be other clients who are less sure about how to use Shazam and we will work very closely, along with Shazam, to give them advice and guidance on what they can do with it, whether it be guidance on what the landing page should look like or what works and what doesn’t work. As this is a new area, it will be very much about working closely with agencies and clients and Shazam to ensure we have the right thing for each client because there is no one-size-fits-all solution, it has to be bespoke.
There’s always talk around how TV advertisers are under more pressure as audiences are increasingly distracted and fragmented across multiple screens, can this help counteract this?
The idea that second screen or, more appropriately, doing something else while watching the TV, is distracting is completely wrong. For years people have done other things in front of the TV, whether it is ironing or their bills. What second screen actually does is tie them into doing more of what is on the TV. If you are ironing, you are doing something completely unrelated to the TV, but we are replacing the ironing board with the second screen, which is all about what is going on, on the TV.
I think there is the opportunity for us as a broadcaster to move away from being a passive entertainment vehicle towards being an interactive one and having far higher areas of engagement across TV, that is really exciting. It is the next stage of the internet and the TV being partners together.
What other technologies interest you?
There are several – one I saw the other day called iPowow looked interesting. It is a voting mechanism that allows the votes to be shown in real time on the screen. But there are a lot of emperor’s new clothes out there. With Shazam, we have gone for the best of the best, that is the only way to do this. We don’t want to be partnering with something we don’t believe will work.
There is a lot of chaff and you have to find the pieces of wheat amongst it, and you must be ruthless because hundreds of things come through all the time. Of these hundreds, we see one or two that will be brilliant and the rest I don’t believe will work. There’s an awful lot of noise out there around things that people think will work centred around their own imaginations, rather than their knowledge of what will work for a broadcaster. There will be one or two really good innovations and I put Shazam in that group, which is are going to dominate the market.