The marketplace for ticketing platforms has become extremely competitive in the last few years. When Fan Freedom Project launched in February, the environment became even more rivalrous.
With funding from ticket-service provider StubHub, Fan Freedom Project was founded by president Jon Potter. His goal was to educate consumers about the detriments of paperless ticketing, which he suggests restricts ticket resale.
Potter says companies that are going digital with tickets are choosing a path that "appears to be pro-consumer, but in fact enhances their own control and creates opportunities for them to nickel-and-dime or under-mine consumers."
Putting the fans first
StubHub, a secondary market or ticket resale platform, supports the Fan Freedom Project because it wants to focus on the fans, explains Glenn Lehrman, head of communications.
"We have a much different audience than someone such as Ticketmaster," he says. "Ticketmaster's customer is the venue or the promoter - that's who they're servicing. We are serving the fans, so all of our marketing is catered directly toward fan engagement."
StubHub also believes that competition among ticketing companies is good for consumers because it keeps prices down, Lehrman adds, and if ticket re-sale is restricted, illegal scalping becomes more likely.
Mobile is the ticket
Glenn Lehrman, head of comms at StubHub, says the next battleground for ticketing companies will be mobile bar-coding.
"We just started rolling out [mobile bar-coding] as a test over the summer with the San Francisco Giants," he adds. "You can buy a ticket at the last second on your mobile device and use your phone to enter the venue."
In addition to advocating Fan Freedom Project, StubHub connects with consumers through social media channels. Lehrman says Twitter serves as a customer service channel and Facebook as an engagement platform where fans are invited to share their event experiences.
Ticketmaster, a supporter of paperless ticketing, and parent company Live Nation helped develop the Fans First Coalition in May. The association, which is made up of artists, teams, venues, and other industry members, aims to improve the ticketing experience for consumers by defending paperless tickets.
"Paperless ensures the face value of tickets," says Jacqueline Peterson, Ticketmaster's PR director. "Without it, you get others involved who scoop up tickets or use illegal computer bots to scoop up tickets, and then dramatically mark up the price only to resell them."
She adds that Ticketmaster also wants to help consumers make better decisions by explaining how many scalpers develop deceivingly realistic sites to sell tickets at higher prices.
Aside from its work with Fans First, Ticketmaster leverages its digital tools to reach consumers.
One of the company's newest innovations, which was released in August, is a tool that allows fans to tag themselves in seating maps for shows and games, revealing to friends and family where they'll be sitting.
Members-only ticket website ScoreBig uses the marketing strategy of offering fans options with their tickets. It allows consumers to select their own price model and make their own offers, which is "empowering," says Dave Donovan, SVP at DKC, ScoreBig's PR AOR since April.
DKC Connect, the firm's digital division, leads efforts to build brand awareness both nationally and locally for ScoreBig by reaching out to consumers and tech reporters and updating Facebook and Twitter with special event offers and news.
Dan Teree, president and COO of Ticketfly, an independent ticketing and social marketing platform, cites creativity as the key to standing out. While Ticketfly uses social media and fully mobile-optimized websites to engage consumers, it also attracts clients, such as venue promoters and festival owners, via its digital channels, he says.
Ticketfly clients can create a Web page for an event using the company's free images, biographies, and URLs. In addition, the page can be quickly repurposed into an event on Facebook.
"If you're a ticketing platform, you better get your marketing act together real quick," advises Teree. "And you better do a whole lot more than just sell tickets and count money."