Over the next few years, the ticket market as we know it will likely look nothing like the one you’ve grown up with, which, depending on your age, involved either waiting in line outside the ticket offices for them to open, or hitting the “refresh” button over and over again until tickets went on sale online. As often happens, a startup will strive to disrupt the market, but this time the startup doing the disrupting won’t be run by 20-something Silicon Alley geniuses, or even Silicon Valley vets. In this next market turn, the startups will be professional sports teams looking to bring back the billions of dollars in market value that has fallen through their hands over the past 20 years or so.
In this battle, teams are embracing data: big, small and everything in between, and in ways that were inconceivable 10 years ago. In your dad’s ticket market, ticketing VPs relied heavily on radio, print, TV, and their gut instincts to price tickets and attract buyers. Today, the smartest of those vice presidents think like Wall Street traders, and organizations understand the power of a pixel. A trading-desk mentality inside team front-offices may have as big an impact on the ticket market as StubHub did 15 years ago. And if those VPs are right, the ticket market of the future may in fact look a lot more like your dad’s ticket market, where the team was the only game in town.
Some of the most successful campaigns that we have run leveraged affinity-based data and look-alike modeling. In the new world of ticketing, these marketing tactics will play a critical role in reshaping the competitive landscape. As the brand themselves, teams are in a unique position to own the content ecosystem that surrounds their product. MLB.com alone employs over 100 writers to do nothing but talk about the product…every day. Couple those outward-facing touch points with the multiple data touch points inside the stadiums, and teams have an almost-unfair competitive data advantage.
To further the team cause, both the Yankees and Angels launched their own ticket exchanges this year. This means that tickets can be bought and sold under the blessing and branding of the teams themselves. With tickets routinely available on the secondary market for under $10, teams are not getting rich on the ticket exchange sales themselves. They are, however, bringing one more piece of the fan experience under the team umbrella, and pulling in another source of incredibly rich data on who’s interested in buying tickets and what they’re willing to pay.
In 2013, CPA and CRM have become as important to a team’s front-office success as ERA is to on-field success, and it’s a trend that will only continue in the years to come. While not every team is in a position to launch its own ticket exchange, leagues are also accelerating the process by creating league-wide destinations, as the NBA did last October with NBATickets.com. NBAtickets.com is powered by Ticketmaster, which powers primary ticketing for around 75% of NBA teams. When it launched, Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard said: “It's time for teams to get data and do what Procter & Gamble and GE does with that data: find the best product for the consumer at the right price in the best distribution channel possible.” With a seemingly unending set of platforms and channels that exist today, this is no simple task. However, with the right approach to data, smart teams and ticketing platforms are in a position to reinvent the ticket buying experience so that you’ll no longer need to wonder where to buy a ticket or if you’re getting gouged with fees. Instead, the ticket of tomorrow will likely find you, and chances are, it will be exactly what you were looking for.