Why Live Nation Thinks Programmatic Can Take Over The Concert And Festival Scene

LNA year after embracing programmatic technology, Live Nation is planning another major expansion of its ad tech capabilities, this time by connecting its many online and offline properties into a holistic marketing platform.

With its “Fan Connect programmatic platform,” the entertainment company is continuing its evolution into a “digital publisher” – not in the sense that it’s generating online content, but mostly in the utility it sees for its first-party data.

Through its acquisition of Ticketmaster, Live Nation has a wealth of consumer data at its disposal. That information includes, according to the company’s VP of programmatic, Mike Finnegan, who the customers are, where they’re going to be and how many people they’ll be with.

And “because we have these owned and operated offline/online properties, it gives us a whole new way to target individuals across a variety of screens,” added Jeremy Levine, SVP of digital sales at Live Nation.

In what Finnegan described as “offline retargeting,” Live Nation aims to capitalize on its ability to know where and when an individual will be in one of its venues or festivals, from classic music halls like the Fillmore or Gramercy Theatre to the four-day Bonnaroo music festival.

The company has been building out its Fan Connect platform, a digital out-of-home system that integrates digital signage and marketing opportunities at its properties “through beacon technology, app activation and networks of video screens,” according to Finnegan.

When Ticketmaster and Live Nation merged in 2009, there was a year-long Justice Department investigation into the new entertainment juggernaut due to its dominance across venues, ticket vending and music tour management. That probe never imagined that one day those entities would find their purpose as part of a system for serving highly targeted ads.

For instance, a campaign for Showtime was meant to identify potential viewers for the channel’s boxing programming.

“We’re not guessing or looking at a pool with ‘trends that parallel or indicate a boxing fan’ or anything like that,” said Finnegan. “We know they’re boxing fans. They bought our tickets and went to the fights.”

That jump in utility from probabilistic to deterministic data is a considerable asset. Starcom MediaVest Group associate director Manya Kopelovich, whose client Samsung is a flagship advertiser on Live Nation’s platform, said in an email that, “Our partnership with Live Nation allows us [to] reach our target audience across premium, relevant inventory throughout [Live Nation’s] valuable array of properties. Live Nation offers direct access to millions of users.”

That direct access could come in the form of Live Nation’s digital signage, working with Krux as its conduit to the programmatic ad serving, or its apps, which are integrated with the actual venue or festival via Aloompa’s beacon and Bluetooth technology.

Having a single app that is both a ticket vendor, with all the rich first-party data that implies, and a functional tool for concert and festival attendees is a distinct advantage for the entertainment company. It can, for example, “allow us to target people who we know travel to shows and sit in the front row, people who spend a lot, or users who regularly come to shows with a group,” according to Levine.

However, “we think of this as much more than just a canvas for advertising,” said Finnegan, who emphasized that Fan Connect gives brands new opportunities to inject themselves into the actual experience, such as Budweiser upgrading tickets for people who engage with their marketing or convert on an in-venue promotion (i.e., an in-app or mobile ad prompting that user to visit the concession stand).

“We find that programmatic is more than a way to serve ads,” Finnegan said. “We’re using the kind of real-time, retargeting capabilities you find in the digital world to reimagine the concert and festival experience.”


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