Ticketmaster is muscling up its marketing suite with three new high-level appointments, the company announced this morning. StubHub veteran David Eisenberg has joined the company as vp of partnership marketing; Andrew Samson, who was lured from Fox Sports, will take on the role of brand marketing vp; and most notably Ticketmaster’s former svp of growth and insights, Kathryn Frederick, has been elevated to CMO.
In her expanded role, Frederick will lead the entire marketing team and “further engage fans across all channels, from the initial event search to the event itself and beyond,” in the words of Ticketmaster North America president and COO Amy Howe.
At first blush, it might not seem as though the company needs much help with engagement. Ticketmaster—which is part of Live Nation Entertainment—is a global behemoth, selling more than 500 million tickets annually in 29 countries to events ranging from rock arena shows to regional theater productions.
But as company president Jared Smith said in advance of his appearance at Adweek’s NexTech event this week, Ticketmaster still faces its share of challenges. Among them are finding would-be ticket buyers in the plethora of platforms and channels that fans visit, “which makes marketing a great big jigsaw puzzle of translation,” Smith said.
“Our overarching goal is to continue to build upon the trust that fans have in Ticketmaster and connect fans to the artists and live events they love,” Frederick told Adweek, adding, “[W]e will continue deepening our investment in data and technology to leverage our scale and improve the end-to-end live event experience for fans.”
One challenge for Ticketmaster is figuring out who all the music and theater fans at its events are. With the average Ticketmaster order standing at three tickets, the company knows the identity of only a fraction of fans actually attending an event. Walsh said “unlocking fan identity” is definitely a focus for her team, as well as “taking it one step further to truly understand what it is fans want out of the live event experience.”
These and other hurdles mean a good portion of Frederick’s energies will be concentrated on ad tech, as Ticketmaster continues to seek out new customers and where they congregate online.
“The performance marketing and analytics capabilities we’ve built, together with this increased fan personalization, have created a huge momentum for us to grow our platform exponentially,” Frederick said. “The results will be more impactful targeting offers while providing cleaner views of attribution and optimization to constantly enhance the fan experience.”
Ticketmaster has a standing relationship with ad-serving company Adzerk, which automated the promotion of content that had previously been managed manually. Early last year, Ticketmaster invested in Blink Identity, a facial-recognition company whose technology it hopes to implement to speed admission to shows—though such technology, which accumulates and stores a large database of faces, can also be deployed for targeted offers and other marketing applications.
Another longstanding issue for Ticketmaster—and possibly an issue for the marketing team to address—is the public’s widespread dislike of the ticket-buying process, from the perception that they lose out to scalpers to opaque pricing structures. Any visit to a consumer review site will give you a sense of the frustration and anger that often prevails. (A sampling: “I hate Ticketmaster, they’re a crappy monopoly!” And: “Why does Ticketmaster get away with charging such high commissions and convenience fee on top?”)
A few recent headlines have not helped Ticketmaster’s public image, either. Last year, the U.K. banned Ticketmaster from claiming its Platinum tickets, which often cost three times as much as a regular seat, were the “best available” after an Advertising Standards Authority investigation found those seats were not substantively better, and in fact were often farther from the stage. And earlier this summer, Ticketmaster’s Canadian division paid a $4.5 million fine over misleading pricing claims.
Ticketmaster did make strides toward addressing some of these issues last year when, as Smith told Adweek, the company blocked a whopping 10 billion purchase attempts by bots.