Ticketmaster is taking its social media game to the next level, with a new Facebook integration which allows fans to purchase tickets directly on the social network, without having to link to another site.
As part of the Facebook news, Ticketmaster also reveals that former Facebook exec Michael Cerda is joining the Live Nation-owned giant as senior vice president, Consumer Products, reporting to Ticketmaster president Jared Smith. At Facebook, Cerda led product and technology teams building Music, Notify, News, and other consumer-centered products.
Like the partnership with Bandsintown announced last month, Facebook’s integration makes use of Ticketmaster’s transactional Partner API to embed ticket transaction technology into Facebook. This new functionality streamlines the consumer experience and will be available through Facebook’s mobile web platform, apps, and desktop. The program is live now, with general admission tickets for about 75,000 events ticketed by Ticketmaster. It plans to add 5,000 events every month over a rolling period until it includes the entire Ticketmaster portfolio, according to Smith.
The Facebook and Bandsintown integrations represent a “second tier of strategy,” Smith says, which, instead of marketing toward pulling traffic to ticketmaster.com, sees the firm make its inventory available on other platforms where consumers live. “Instead of having to always pull somebody in and communicate with them on our own platforms,” Smith says, “we want to take content to them, and do both really well.”
Cerda has already been busy at Ticketmaster, hiring several key staff that will begin next week. Joining Ticketmaster reporting to Cerda are former Vevo execs Jon Ramos, now vp, product experience, and Aaron Burcell, now vp, product marketing, and Ben Dean, now vp of product at Ticketmaster, from CueNotes.
Historically, when Ticketmaster (or any ticketing company) has partnered with another platform to sell tickets, the sale was always executed via a link-through affiliate, whereby when the consumer hits the “buy” button they leave the partner site and are brought back to Ticketmaster. Through the new API, Facebook or Bandsintown will have live inventory available from Ticketmaster, so fans can purchase without ever leaving the site.
Ticketmaster is not the only company able to sell tickets on Facebook now; Eventbrite, too, is now part of what it calls Facebook’s “pilot integration.” While Eventbrite has offered the ability to publish events in Facebook since Connect first launched back in 2008, this new integration not only provides the ability to buy tickets directly within Facebook, but also offers easy access to the ticket — in the form of a QR code — within Facebook that provides entry to the event. “We are committed to innovation that helps organizers sell more tickets,” says Eventbrite vp of Product Laurent Sellier in a statement.
For its part, Ticketmaster has spent the last year working with Facebook to integrate with the social media platform’s Official Events tab, alleviating some of the clutter and confusion around multiple listings of the same event. In the past, several different parties on Facebook could offer links to a ticket purchase, be it the artist, the venue, the promoter, or the ticketing company. “You could end up with four or five, sometimes 15 or 20, different pages for the exact same event,” Smith explains. Ticketmaster worked with Facebook to “clean up the data” so all of the traffic directs to the Official Events page, creating a seamless experience for the fan.
“When we do that, we see massive increases in the number of people who actually convert,” says Smith. “The number of people who start that transaction process and finish that transaction process really jumps up. It’s orders of magnitude better.”
Facebook and Bandsintown are “the first of what will become a whole network of partners that will eventually be able to sell our inventories live in their stores,” says Smith, “which will help us solve that awareness problem, with more tickets sold at the right prices through the right channel, to the right people.”
Cerda’s hire represents “one more thoroughbred in the stable that’s helping us go to market against our key priorities,” says Smith. “Michael has been building music-related products, news-related products, marketing-related products, for two decades, and his track record speaks for itself. It’s a coup for us, and we’re excited to have him.”
Cerda says the Ticketmaster gig is appealing because it is a well-established company, but with “so much yet to do,” he says. Having worked with Ticketmaster the previous year in evolving the Facebook/TM relationship, Cerda says he saw a lot of potential for further evolution in the ticket-buying experience beyond just the transaction.
“I would love to migrate this from being just a transaction to being an ongoing relationship,” Cerda says. “You can imagine that ticket unlocking a longer-term relationship between the artist and the fan. There is some really white space there that’s never been figured out, and that’s one of the things that really excites me. At the end of the day, I’d love to have an experience that’s personal, that’s social, and, ultimately, ongoing.”
At Ticketmaster, and across the entire live industry, the availability of myriad digital/mobile marketing tools, and the industry’s ability to use them efficiently, continue to fuel growth by addressing an industry-wide problem of unsold inventory. “We’ve been investing in social tools, in digital marketing tools, in database products” to address the awareness issue, Smith says. “Being a really good digital marketer and then distributing your inventory through as many channels as you can are two really great strategies we’re seeing the fruits of.”
While digital tools are clearly moving the needle, Smith says there’s still a “lack of awareness” problem in the industry, due in no small part to the overall robust nature of live entertainment, which dominates the music business today both as a revenue-producer and a means to connect fans and artists. “You’re seeing the health of the live entertainment business…lead to more product on the road than ever,” says Smith, who sees the increased inventory and content as “new opportunities for us to use those levers that we have to sell more tickets.”