4th Screen is going to America – the London-based mobile advertiser has had a lot of success in Europe, and is hoping to crack the American market with a well-timed launch. Its “foundation” client in the USA is popular music service Shazam: another UK company trying to make waves State-side.
What’s the story?
4th Screen is an advertising agency that serves ads on its own platform – the Mpression ad network. The agency works mostly with rich-media ads, trying to replicate the kind of complex visuals that users are used to on their TVs or computer screens. For example, it recently signed a deal with luxury car manufacturer Maserati. The car maker launched a mobile advertising campaign using Mpression, and used the 4th Screen “iSlide” format: a “slide-out” ad for the iPhone. Users touch the banner, and it slides out to take over the mobile screen with an interactive rich-media ad. That’s just one example. 4th Screen recently released a whole new set of SDKs for both iPhone and Android that allows developers and publishers to use location, augmented reality and video in their mobile campaigns as well.
4th Screen also makes a big fuss over targeting and analytics, which seemingly has been good enough to keep the attention of Shazam. The two companies have worked together in the UK and Europe, and are extending their partnership to include the States.
Shazam is one of the most popular music apps in the world – when it’s running, you simply point your phone mic at a radio (or other source of music) and Shazam will recognize the song that is playing, and provide you with all the information you need to buy the song later. It’s like a mobile memory bank for any song you hear during the day that catches your fancy. Earlier this year, Shazam started buying server space in America, and has been pushing into the app market over there. The apps has been doing well, with one billion songs identified by May this year.
What’s their deal?
4th Screen is using Shazam as a spring-board to launch in the States. It’s a pretty aggressive push, with offices opening on both coasts. 4th Screen will be selling ad space to US companies, centered around the Shazam app and mobile service. The ad agency is really pushing its targeting capabilities as a differentiator here. 4th Screen will be using Shazam data to target ads at Shazam users – like the kind of music a user tags, along with info like age, gender and type of device.
What we think?
It seems that the smartphone advertising industry suffers from the same problem as the music industry: the real money is in America. For more low-tech options like SMS or audio campaigns, developing markets such as India or APAC have the big numbers – but if you’re running fancier campaigns on higher-tech devices, you really want to go to the States. Both 4th Screen and Shazam are UK companies who have made good in Europe, and now want to expand into America. Shazam is pretty much the best at what it does, so it has a good offering for America. Unfortunately for 4th Screen, there are already plenty other good mobile advertisers in that market. But Shazam is a good spring board for 4th Screen, and I would hope to see them announcing new clients in the near future.