Q&A with Miles Lewis on Shazam's plans as it begins to target UK advertisers


By Stephen Lepitak, -

February 27, 2012 | 8 min read

Digital music identification service Shazam is to target UK advertisers with its TV offering, having appointed Miles Lewis as its vice president advertising sales for the UK and Europe. Lewis talks to The Drum about the company’s plans for the UK marketplace.

Will Shazam offer the same proposition as it does in the US?

Very much so. There’s two sides to the offering. There’s the main ‘in-app’ advertising proposition that we have and there’s mass opportunity around us. It’s one of those scenarios where if you’ve chosen to try and identify a song, there’s a massive engagement potential for looking at the screen. We haven’t as a company looked at that closely within the UK. The company will also look at Shazam for TV which is a very disrupting and engaging for TV advertising to increase their engagement. It’s going to be a fascinating 12 months.

How much demand are you seeing for the TV service?

I’ve never experienced anything like it. On my first day in the job I changed my Linkedin page and I’ve had 20 emails from agencies and clients, which has never happened to me before. The incoming enquiries have been quite phenomenal. If you think about the millions who view Facebook and TV advertising, what we’re doing is we’re offering that very easy solution to drive engagement. When it comes down to it, an awful lot of clients want to be a part of that.

What can you offer clients and advertisers?

If you look at our penetration, the app has over 180 million users. What we can offer advertisers is the ability to add a new dimension to their TV advertising. So you only have 30 seconds to grab someone’s attention with you advert on TV, with us you can go back time-and-time again because with us, when you’ve tagged it, you can go back and watch it again. If you’re Unilever and you’re Lynx, what you can broadcast on TV is very different to what you can display through a tag. As an example of how they’ve used it in the US, they had a campaign and the course of action on their TV was purely for Shazam to showcase the unreleased version of the TV ad. The response to that was phenomenal with people going back to it three or four times to watch it. That’s a very interesting way for that brand, which is quite risqué, to drive engagement.

How much awareness of Shazam do you think there is already in the UK?

There probably isn’t as much in the UK as there is in the US at the moment. The awareness is very much in the use of the app. We have 12,500,000 users in UK and those users know exactly what Shazam does. It tells you what track is playing or has just been played.

If you look at our music charts, you see a lot of the things that drive the hits in our music charts for advertisement here in the UK. People are already used to tagging ads to get information on the music that is playing, as with the John Lewis ad that played over Christmas. So people are already used to that behaviour. Now they just need to learn that they can start to tag ads for the ads themselves to get more information.

Do you feel that Shazam can supplement the connection between adverts and music?

Totally. If you think about the millions of pounds that are spent by global advertisers trying to find the appropriate track that will build emotional engagement with the marketing communications message that the brand is trying to put across. We are, as an enabler, able to drive that engagement. If you’re emotionally attached to that track, you can Shazam that track and suddenly you have this whole new information about this track that wasn’t available before. That’s priceless. This layer can offer so much and there’s definitely a link with the music. What we do is identify music.

How does the company make its money then?

Obviously as a private company we have to careful what we can divulge, but as part of the millions of pounds being invested on TV and the millions of pounds invested in the internet, there’s somewhere in the middle there where we will come in and be a disruptive force and say ‘if you’re going to invest this on TV then you should be investing in Shazam as well’. At the moment there’s an awful lot of talk about the ‘second screen’ experience and if advertisers are doing what they possibly can to engage consumers via Facebook or via Twitter, then we have that ability to say ‘hold your phone up and suddenly it’s there’. You don’t have to type in a URL. We make it seamless and very easy.

What can we expect to see coming up for the Shazam in the coming months?

I hope to make my first appointment, which will effectively double the team. The areas that are important to me are on both sides. I want to look at in-app advertising and getting right to the heart of that emotional attachment to music or content and more activity around Shazam TV. As far as I’m concerned, the UK doesn’t just stop at the M25. So the northern areas, such as Manchester and Scotland, are also incredibly important. This will be a case of making sure that we cover off the UK as-a-whole and putting importance on any agency that wants to engage with the consumer. Because we’ve got the product.

How far away are we from seeing the first brand in the UK use Shazam?

All I can say at the moment is that there are over 20 conversations taking place in the first two weeks. It’s busy.

What are brands looking for asking you about?

No two brands are asking about the same thing. It all comes down to what they are trying to achieve. In the States, you can look at our Best Buy promotion. That was a voucher. That’s probably going to be mirrored here by some retailers who will offer a voucher to get users in store. If you look at Pepsi, theirs is about music and having Pespi there as an enabler for the content. If you look at Old Navy, which was a GAP brand, that was about driving footfall and it was also about driving looking at the retail space in a different way. It depends on what the client is trying to achieve and it is all linked to their TV message.

Another group of campaigns that we’ve done have been for movies. We’ve worked for Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the latest Underworld movie and it gives fans of the movies the opportunity to see a two minute trailer, as well as, if the movie is out in the cinemas, a lot of the time there are links to buy tickets at a local theatre. As far as helping the advertisers to achieve their goals, that is another way that we can help them to do it. What we can do is run content that extends beyond a 30-second advert. Once it’s in your phone you have the recipe for a product and it can let you know what else you need to pick up too.

We originally started in 2000. There was a text based service which launched in 2002 and we were one of the first apps to launch on i-tunes. It still works and they still do get questions through that.

What do you hope to achieve in 2012?

For me I want to have a proper team in place by the end of the year, looking at Shazam of TV and in-app with a number of sales planners helping to make sure that we can fulfil all of the campaigns that we are sure will flow. It’s important, having come through Yahoo! AOL and CBS, I’ve learned the hard way that service is really important. With something like this, which is contently a bespoke experience at the tagging stage, and we will build that, but if we don’t get that right, then the experience is bad, so the team we take on board needs to be a renowned team that can deliver to agencies and clients exactly what they want.


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