Digital & Social Media

Shazam! We’ve Got Second-Screen Marketing at the Cinema


What Happened: Audio-recognizing smartphone apps like Shazam are usually used to capture the information off any song regardless of where you’re listening to it. Now, this technology is premiering in cinemas near you, with the help of National CineMedia and the Weinstein Company to help connect audiences with pre-show advertisements.

This summer, NCM’s first Shazam-enabled campaign will promote sci-fi thriller The Giver, from the Weinstein brothers and Walden Media, through interactive ads that will run before trailers begin. With the activation of this app, audience members will have the ability to access trivia about the film as well as about book and ticket sales and contests, including one involving selfies.

SoundHound, another music-related smartphone app, also inked cinema-related deals for this summer.

AdWeek points out that marketers still haven’t “cracked the code on how to effectively advertise to smartphone users who are also watching TV,” or in this case sitting in a movie theater, despite recent efforts by major brands such as Jaguar. While there has been some growth in second-screen viewing, it doesn’t reflect the broader opportunity among growing numbers of smartphone users; Pew reports that 3 in 5 American adults have a smartphone.

While a lot of people probably are off buying popcorn while the advertisements are playing in movie theaters, giving them a way to participate might actually get them in the seats more quickly.

What This Means for Brands: This development scratches the surface of an area that has proven hard for marketers to get their arms around, despite the massive smartphone ownership in the U.S. and overseas. The opportunity it could afford to engage potential customers, however, is clear.

In theaters, companies like NCM and the Weinsteins are using this to advertise a film, but one could also easily imagine opportunities to promote nearby restaurants or stores, sell movie soundtracks or product placements from the movie, or offer downloadable coupons.

Logistical problems have hampered the technology, such as the short length of most advertisements, which doesn’t give folks enough time to participate. However, the more audiences experience it, presumably the more comfortable today’s tech-savvy audiences will become.

In the meantime, brands should be encouraged by these experiments.

Contributing to TRENDING items are Amanda Ayotte, Ephraim Cohen, Michelle Choi, Michelle Goodwin, Lisa Helfer, Jeff Maldonado, Stephanie O’Malley, Liz Pollock, Lauren Price, Abby Ray and Daniel J. Sheehan.