Monday, August 27, 2012

"Shazam" for the US Elections - SuperPAC App

You know the situation. You're listening to a song on the radio and you wonder who's singing it or who the performer is. Well, thanks to audio fingerprinting, there's an app for that. Hold up the phone to the speaker and the application gives you the answer. It's the app to identify something you hear but didn't know.
Of course that is not news. Shazam has been around in some form or other since 2002. The UK based company claims that 2 million people use the app every week. I've personally found it extremely useful.

Last year, WIRED magazine carried the news that the company had pivoted to help US Commercial broadcasters.

"More than 70 percent of US households watching TV are using Facebook or browsing the web at the same time," says Shazam CEO Andrew Fisher. "Broadcasters want to take advantage of this and connect the two screens." So "Shazam for TV" uses the app to let viewers interact with commercials and TV shows when a Shazam thumbnail logo appears on the screen. Levi's Dockers launched a "Shazamable" TV commercial during last year's premium Super Bowl slots, allowing viewers with the app to receive extra content and buy Levi's clothes. Shazam also worked with the NBC series Being Human and on a $20 million (£12 million) campaign for fashion brand Old Navy, again in the US. TV ads for the movie Transformers 3 are also "Shazamable", with free downloads of Linkin Park tracks and cinema tickets up for grabs.

Now it looks like the Media Lab at Harvard has taken the whole concept one stage further.  It's a variation on audio fingerprinting, not for music but for the US elections. PAC stands for Political Action Committee. So welcome the SuperPAC.

Of course the public isn't interested in the history of the app. Just how to use it. At the moment it is just for the iPhone (though I'm sure it must work on the iPad). They tell me they are not tracking radio ads, only TV. Have asked them why. Love to see how the public "wings it" infront of the camera.


Wish we had something similar in the Netherlands for the upcoming elections in September. But that's not going to happen. Thanks to Richard Kastelein of and Marie-Jose Montpetit of MIT (her students built this start-up).

Marie-Jose Montpetit

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