The surprise decision last week by Live Nation’s Ticketmaster division to shut down its online affiliate marketing program has opened the door for ticketing companies to fill the void, though Ticketmaster appears to be brainstorming ways of reaching fans in other ways.
StubHub, which has emerged over the last decade as Ticketmaster’s chief rival in the ticketing industry, despite technically playing in the secondary ticket market to Ticketmaster’s primary market, is a potential winner by Ticketmaster’s decision to leave the affiliate marketing space. A company spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions, but StubHub will now be the nation’s biggest ticketing concern with an affiliates program, and it will benefit from its massive marketing reach.
Two smaller ticketing companies, TicketFly and TicketBiscuit, also stand to benefit from Ticketmaster’s decision because both recently launched affiliate programs and now will not have to compete against the Ticketmaster colossus in the primary ticketing affiliates space.
“The affiliate program is still in its infancy, but is generating very real results,” Eric Housh, who heads up marketing efforts for TicketBiscuit, told TicketNews. For a $50 ticket purchase delivered by an affiliate, for example, TicketBiscuit pays about $0.40, which is among the better payouts among similar programs. “We launched the program in late July and began signing up affiliates in August.”
TicketBiscuit has about 50 affiliates so far, including Eventful, SongKick, Jambase, SonicLiving, and BandsInTown, and Housh said “affiliate-generated traffic results in a 10 percent conversion rate or better, meaning that for every 10 clicks sent our way, we’re converting at least one transaction , which is usually multiple tickets. That’s far better conversion than any paid ad I’ve ever heard of.”
Ticketmaster did not disclose its reasons for closing the program, and a comparable one from Live Nation also was shut down, but Andrew Dreskin, CEO of TicketFly, believes saving money is chief among its concerns. TicketFly pays a flat $0.25 commission for a ticket sold that an affiliate sends its way.
“My guess is Ticketmaster’s view is that it’s the exclusive provider of the inventory and that anyone who wants to attend the event must buy it from them ultimately, so why share a portion of the fees with affiliates?” Dreskin told TicketNews. “What this doesn’t take into consideration is that there are many ticketing and marketing options for event promoters today. Our belief is that they will choose the company with the best marketing tools and the broadest reach when it comes time for contract renewal, and our goal is to list our clients inventory on as many sites as possible, giving them massive marketing reach.”
While neither Ticketmaster nor Live Nation has publicly discussed the move, besides through the email to affiliates last week, on the company’s corporate blog, Ticketology, it discusses beefing up its fan concert and game reviews, which it hopes will generate extensive word-of-mouth advertising. Currently, the company has more than 1 million reviews on its Web site, and it is growing each day. In addition, the company recently signed a deal with Apple to power the ticketing function of the computer, music and consumer electronics’ company’s Ping social network.
“As we work to develop what’s next in social commerce and community building for our site, we’re thrilled that reviews are becoming a useful decision tool for fans, with go-to content that captures the unequaled experience of a live show or game,” Kip Levin, executive vice president of Live Nation’s Ecommerce division, wrote.