In March, when Ed Sheeran announced the on-sale dates for his Divided World Tour, Ticketmaster formally introduced its Verified Fan program to keep tickets out of the hands of scalpers. Over the last few weeks, the ticketing giant has announced that more major events have put aside Verified Fan tickets: Bruce Springsteen’s shows at the Walter Kerr Theatre, Hamilton and, today, Taylor Swift.
The idea behind the Verified Fan program is to not only keep out bots -- the computer programs that clog major ticket sales -- but as many people as possible who intend to sell tickets for a profit. Instead of simply going to a web site when a sale begins, fans register in advance, then receive a code that will let them buy tickets. But not anyone can register: Ticketmaster uses “proprietary data science technology” to try to determine whether potential buyers are likely to be scalpers or fans -- which presumably means no Swift tickets for Phish heads unless an algorithm determines they’re probably parents -- and only approves the latter. A couple of hours before tickets go on sale, Ticketmaster sends a text message with a code to some consumers -- not everyone who qualifies gets one -- who enter it to buy tickets much as they otherwise would.
Starting with the Taylor Swift concerts, fans can maximize their chances by doing different things: registering on TaylorSwift.com; buying tchotchkes; picking a city where they want to see the show. Presumably, this is also a great way to Swift to sell merchandise and collect data on consumers.