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My Shazam-Guided Super Bowl Experience

For people who have been in online marketing for a while, it’s been a long running joke that every year is the year of mobile. The rise in popularity of media check-in apps like Get Glue, and the fact that a major network legally streamed the  Super Bowl online for the first time supported the theory this year. When I discovered the push by Shazam [1] and others for the Super Bowl to be a true second screen experience, I was on the verge of drinking the Kool-Aid.

Unfortunately, the Super Bowl left me thirsty in this regard. Sure, the industry has made progress, but I can’t help but feel that a lack of creativity and clear call-to-actions left a lot on the mobile table this year.

My Mobile Super Bowl Experience

To test the mobile prowess of this year’s Super Bowl, I decided to use Shazam as my second screen tour guide. During every commercial and the halftime show, I let Shazam “listen” and took notes about each advertiser’s second screen offerings.

Note: While I was there for every commercial from kick-off to the end of the game, it is possible that the instance of Shazam running on my phone did not pick up on every commercial correctly. For the record, I was using an iPhone 3GS (I know I need to upgrade!) running iOS 5.0.1, was connected to Wi-Fi, and sat in a relatively quiet room about 6-feet from the TV.

Super Bowl Mobile Overview

After talking with fellow search agent Mike Solomon [2], who also wrote about mobile advertising during the Super Bowl [3], I believe the biggest takeaway from the event is that while companies have overcome many usability hurdles (I’m looking at you Flash) on their mobile websites, there is still a lack of synergy between their traditional media buys and online marketing efforts.

There were very few call-to-actions in the Super Bowl commercials, much less ones that provided a compelling reason for people to put down their nachos and pick up their smart phones. The only specific commercial that comes to mind that did implore viewers to take action is GoDaddy [4], which despite recent negative coverage regarding SOPA and a long history of shameless sex-fueled advertising, has managed to develop dominant mind-share for domain registration.

Every business that produced commercials does not rely as heavily as GoDaddy on web traffic and social media engagement to drive sales, but it seems awfully foolish to spend millions of dollars on a commercial that generates millions of impressions without a more holistic marketing strategy.

Super Bowls Ads – Shazam Winners

I’m still not sure how people were supposed to know to use Shazam while listening to commercials, but for those who did there were a handful of brands that executed very well.


Pepsi [5] ran a Shazam-enabled ad in the first and third quarters and both ads utilized the platform quite well. The first, Where there’s Pepsi, there’s music, produced a branded image with a clear call-to-action and several options for consuming and re-sharing content.












(Pepsi’s Shazam landing page)

From the landing page mobile phone users were able to watch the music video, download the song, watch the TV commercial on YouTube, share the commercial on Facebook and Twitter, and go to a special Sound Off With Pepsi website.












(Pepsi’s “Sound Off With Pepsi” website)

Best Buy

Not surprisingly, Best Buy [8] did a great job taking advantage of Shazam’s second screen experience. For starters, they provided users with a clear incentive to check out their website.












(Clicking the” Choose Phone Freedom” image brought users to a mobile landing page)

Unlike other brands that used Shazam, they not only made it easy to share the Super Bowl specific content, but also made it easy for people to Like them on Facebook and Follow them on Twitter. Of course, their mobile landing page was also easy to navigate and contained a clear call-to-action.












(Best Buy mobile landing page)


Cars.com [11]was firing on all cylinders, using a solid charitable giving hook to push users to their social properties, mobile app, and website.












(Cars.com Shazam landing page)

The Free Cars.com App link took users straight to the download page in the App Store while the Visit Cars.com Mobile link to users to a very clean looking mobile website.












Super Bowls Ads – Missed Opportunities

There were a lot of missed opportunities; although to be fair some of them may have been on Shazam’s end, not the advertiser’s. As a result, I focused on general miscues and not necessarily on specific brands.

URLs and Hashtags

If someone can explain to me why companies choose to throw up a URL or hashtag only in the final two seconds of a commercial, I’d greatly appreciate it. Really, is there a reason this information can’t float on the bottom or corner of an ad for the entire 30 seconds?

Also, simply listing a URL, hashtag or Facebook page is not enough to drive engagement. Advertisers need to provide a clear reason or incentive for people to act. Why should a user go to Twitter and use Budweiser’s #MakeItPlatinum or Audi’s #SoLongVampires hashtags? I can’t think of a good reason and I’m not entirely convinced those brands can either.

Underutilized Media Assets

When you are paying for a celebrity endorsement or taking a hit on margins by offering a discount, you really have to make it count. One example where I felt a brand could have really hit a viral cord is H&M’s partnership with David Beckham [14].












(The H&M landing page on Shazam)

Why was the default image not an asset from their wonderful mobile site? How come they didn’t generate interest on social properties by creating a Flickr or Pinterest account using these photos?












(The mobile landing page from Shazam to H&M)

Unrecognized/Misrecognized Audio

Not all ads were recognized by Shazam, which I knew going into the experiment, but there were also some that were misrecognized. Imagine the frustration of an advertiser who licensed a popular song to use in their commercial and had users taken to information about the song or artist and not their brand.












(A 1st Quarter Audi commercial was flagged by Shazam as being “The Killer Moon” by Echo and the Bunnymen)

Mobile Advertising Takeaways

The second screen experience is still a very new concept for users and marketers, so it is not surprising that people are still working out the kinks. In a lot of ways it reminds me of where social media was five years ago; fresh, unproven and ripe for innovation.

Even so, here are five takeaways for brands that plan to dabble in second screen advertising:

  1. Coordinate with other parts of your marketing department. No marketing channel should be on an island.
  2. Provide a clear reason or incentive for people to take up their second screen. Once the novelty of the second screen wears off—and it most certainly will—people will need a good reason to spend their time with it.
  3. Leverage existing assets such as Facebook and Twitter accounts. Even if an event is happening during off-hours, it is probably worth it to have a person manage conversations around your brand during peak activity events such as the Super Bowl.
  4. Make sure your website is optimized for tablets and mobile devices. There is no point in spending ad dollars that direct people to an un-navigable website.
  5. Experiment, experiment, and then experiment some more. Since second screen advertising is so new, there is little in the way of industry-recognized best practices and strategies. Be bold and don’t be afraid to fail.

About David Carrillo

David Carrillo is an Earned Media Manager at The Search Agency where he assists clients executing holistic SEO and Inbound Marketing strategies that include audits and recommendations spanning content, promotions, architecture, social and analytics. Outside of the wonderful world of Inbound Marketing, David’s interests include technology, gadgets, gaming, sports, naps and general debauchery.

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