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Office Depot markets to Shazam users in-store via sound system

Office Depot is leading the way in mobile marketing with a new beacon-like strategy enabling shoppers to access offers and other content on their smartphones by connecting with the in-store sound system.

When shoppers open the Shazam mobile application in-store to identify a song or audio message, the apps connects with Office Depot’s overhead music system using an inaudible watermark and enabling the delivery of a message. The idea is similar to how beacons work, except that offers and content are delivered on a storewide basis whereas with beacons, content can be different based on a shopper’s location in the store.

“It makes sense for a retailer like Office Depot, Inc. who is currently utilizing the solution its retail stores throughout the country to use the solution because it allows them to create custom, tailored content that allows brands to foster a unique connection with their customers, on-site,” said Ken Eissing, president of Mood Media North America.

“It can also drive customers to proprietary apps, Web sites, branded messaging and awareness, community messaging and create two-way engagement,” he said.

Storewide offers
Mood Media offers the technology that enables the Shazam app to communicate with a retailer’s sound system.

Office Depot is currently using the solution in all of its Office Depot and OfficeMax retail store locations throughout the country.

When a shopper walks into a store, opens the Shazam app and uses it to recognize a song or audio message, Mood’s Presence technology is activated and can identify the phone in-store to deliver a tailored message or offer.

In comparison, with beacon programs, the Bluetooth Low Energy technology in a phone is used to communicate with physical beacon hardware placed around a store. Shoppers typically have to have an app such as shopkick open to receive messages.

Shazam extends reach
Shazam is a second-screen app that recognizes the content a user is watching on television and delivers related content.

The company is making a push to extend the app’s reach into consumer-facing environments through a new partnership with Mood Media. Shazam has also recently extended its reach into malls and movie theaters.

Shazam In-Store enables brands to connect with the app’s more than 100 million monthly active users. It is the first to use Mood Media’s Presence signal.

“Shazam In-Store, powered by Mood Media’s proprietary Presence technology, allows retailers to seamlessly connect with Shazam’s more than 100 million monthly mobile active users, which is a built-in user base other in-store activations cannot compete with,” said Patricia Parra, chief marketing officer at Shazam.

“By utilizing Shazam In-Store, retailers can provide targeted, interactive content directly to users through their mobile devices like never before, allowing brands to engage with customers in a meaningful way while they are in-store,” she said.

Beacon comparison
The platform is customizable, enabling brands to tailor the second-screen experience customers interact with when they tap to Shazam music in-store. In-store activations can include exclusive content, such as videos, tracks and audio files as well as special offers.

Mood Media’s platform can also integrate with beacons to target offers on are hyperlocal level.

However, the platform promises a benefit over beacon technology in that fewer resources are required to get up and running with an in-store mobile marketing strategy.

“IBeacons require installation and training, which is often very expensive and time consuming,” Mr. Eissing said. “Furthermore, iBeacons are potentially intrusive in retail environments, as most retailers want to avoid overwhelming their customers with a million messages.

“As retailers try to reach their customers via mobile while they are in-store, we have an effective, ready-to-use technology solution that is already in hundreds of thousands of retail locations,” he said.

Mood Media currently has 500,000 client retail locations using its platform.

Location-based marketing
Beacon technology has been one of the biggest success stories in mobile marketing this year, with retailers such as Macy’s and Lord & Taylor quickly moving beyond pilot programs to broader rollouts while awareness of the technology is high among consumers.

The quick success of beacon technology suggests consumers are actively looking for ways to engage with marketers while they are inside stores, something Shazam and Mood Media hope to position themselves to address.

“This partnership makes the promise of location-based marketing a reality with technology that is easy to activate, easy to manage and has already proven effective for retailers like Office Depot,” Mr. Eissing said.

“Presence is unique in the ‘location-based’ market because of its scale and capabilities – it gives brands a seamless way to extend their marketing efforts and connect with consumers in-store,” he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York