What Ticketmaster Is Grateful For This Thanksgiving (Hint: It’s The NFL)

Thanksgiving and watching football on Thanksgiving are American traditions.

But this year will be the first celebration of what you might call Ticketmaster’s football Thanks-for-giving-us-your-business day.

The ticket-sales company has secured the exclusive ticketing rights for the NFL and transitioned the league to digital-only tickets this year.

Now Ticketmaster is spiking the football – which, in this case, means an extended data-driven marketing campaign to promote the NFL partnership.

For Ticketmaster, spending heavily to support its NFL relationship pays off through the broader marketing possibilities the league brings to its partners, said Kat Frederick, executive VP of growth and insights.

For instance, the NFL and Ticketmaster set upfront goals for the season, which dwarf most marketing costs.

Ticketmaster ran digital out-of-home (DOOH) and social campaigns to support the 2018 NFL Draft, for example, and over the season it executed digital and influencer campaigns to promote NFL fandom. One of Ticketmaster’s promotional campaigns gave away a pair of season tickets for each team, which fans entered by posting on Twitter or Instagram and tagging the team.

That became valuable prospecting data for NFL clubs – a pool of local fans who explicitly wanted tickets to every game – and a powerful data set for Ticketmaster.

“When we layer our first-party data on NFL fans and ticket buyers, we have a better understanding of who’s interested in going to events in a city, and it’s a way to keep those conversations alive,” Frederick said.

The NFL also opens doors to new commerce opportunities. Ticketmaster announced this week an integration with Fanatics, the exclusive merchandising partner of all major US sports leagues that is jointly owned by the leagues and some team owners, that could help Ticketmaster drive up the value of ticket sales by bundling apparel or stadium merchandise deals.

Ticketmaster already works with enterprise customers on data and marketing collaborations, Frederick said, but those are limited primarily to well-tracked channels and direct-ticket sales.

“This partnership with the NFL involves club development with teams, league marketing, sponsorships and coordinating with other NFL stakeholders,” in a more holistic way than Ticketmaster historically works with partners, she said.

Ticketmaster isn’t alone in this new NFL vendor model. This is the first year the NFL is operating a data co-op for marketing and attribution, with data from Ticketmaster, Fanatics and Adobe Audience Manager DMP, the league’s director of club and international marketing, Aaron Jones, told AdExchanger in May.

Ticketmaster hadn’t previously focused on DOOH and social video since they are less measurable for direct marketing, Frederick said. But returning mobile fan data to the NFL is its own reward.

“We’re looking at ways to up-level the strategy and deliver a season-long campaign,” she said.

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