On the surface, beacons appear to give consumers everything they want — targeted, personalized deals and product recommendations based on context that makes sense. However, the dearth of public support for beacon networks proves that something is being lost in translation when the concept of IoT’s potential meets with execution that routinely falls flat with the average consumer.
But if the power of beacons can be wrapped in a more appealing package, could retailers finally hook shoppers on this powerful platform? Shazam, the audio-recognizing app, is convinced of it, and it’s making several moves to test out its theory with real shoppers.
In the last few months alone, Shazam has been busy forming key partnerships with retailers in verticals that show promise for a souped-up beacon experience. In October, Mobile Marketer reported that Shazam and Sony Pictures worked together to offer some secondary content to filmgoers who went to see Sony’s “Goosebumps.” During the ending credits of the movie, audience members who pulled out their phones and opened the Shazam app, which uses audio triggers and other metrics collected by in-device sensors, would be given access to behind-the-scenes content, concept art and more extra features normally reserved for special Blu-ray releases several months after a movie’s release.
“The important thing to note about the brilliance of this marketing strategy is that Sony has recognized the under-15 demographic, where an extremely high percentage of these young teens were born into the Information Age and will immediately get how to unlock the content to win the prizes,” Marci Troutman, CEO of SiteMinis, told Mobile Marketer. “I would anticipate that this promotion will have quite a few studios mimicking the strategy in the upcoming years."
That dynamic of gamifying the process of beacons — i.e., funneling customers toward activities they perform that “unlock” or “achieve” bonus content — could be Shazam’s secret weapon in the fight to build up consumer interest in beacons. Instead of bombarding customers with push notifications, creating an incentive for those same users to come to brands can be a more effective — and more engaging — way of going about beacons.
This doesn’t have to be limited to the entertainment industry. On the contrary, Shazam is experimenting with its active approach to beacons in some of the least flashy verticals in retail. Mobile Commerce Daily explained that Food Lion and Shazam have formed a partnership that will tie coupon and discount offers into every Shazam search that the grocer’s customers perform while in store. Instead of hoping that shoppers bite on a deal as they walk past the dairy aisle, Shazam is instead relying on the natural appeal of its app — identifying and naming songs that customers can’t recall — and piggybacking offers that benefit retailers on that natural consumer action.
While these two real-world examples give a rough idea of how Shazam is tweaking a beacon rollout model that hasn’t blown industry experts away, the company more or less laid its cards out on the table on Wednesday (Dec. 16) in a joint announcement with Mood Media. The companies explained that they had completed a serious update to their Shazam In-Store platform, an audio-based beacon standard specifically designed for turnkey implementation in small to medium-sized businesses.
"Many small businesses are looking for ways to tap into interactive mobile marketing, but they do not have the resources to justify developing their own app,” David Van Epps, global chief product officer for Mood Media, said in a statement. “Through Mood’s innovative and exclusive technology and our partnership with Shazam, our clients now have a simple and affordable way to leverage their Mood services and integrate marketing offers with one of the world’s most popular apps."
Has Shazam always been the critical missing link to the next step in beacon evolution? However unlikely that may seem, all the obvious fixes haven’t come close to delivering the results the industry — and its customers — have come to expect.