Ticketmaster Builds Their Own Internal Promotions Ad Server

Chris Shuptrine
Chris Shuptrine
Ticketmaster Builds Their Own Internal Promotions Ad Server

Ticketmaster, the world's largest ticket sales company (and a Top 150 most-trafficked US site), was looking to optimize what events got promoted on their site and app, such as the Korn and Chris Stapleton listings below.

ticketmaster ads

They knew that delivering the right event at the right time to the right person would not only deliver a better user experience, it would also drive more revenue. On top of that, adding promotions required the Marketing team to ask Engineering to make static changes to their web/mobile apps - which made it difficult to keep content fresh and prevent old events from being promoted.

So Ticketmaster decided to build their own internal promotions platform for optimizing and automating content placement. Below details that process, why/how they did it, and what the results were.

"The events promoted on our site used to be manually-managed and lacked real-time optimizations. We knew we could drive more revenue by promoting the right events at the right time."
David Han, VP of Product

What Ticketmaster Wanted

In designing their platform, Ticketmaster had a few key goals:

  1. To move content promotion from a manual process to an automated one
  2. To improve relevance of their event listings by targeting users based on what subcategory/pages they were on
  3. To drive more revenue through monetization algorithms that would select the event most likely to lead to a purchase
  4. To have no changes to the user experience or the visual layout of their site/app
  5. To release the product in weeks, not years

A third-party ad server like Google Ads Manager wouldn't suffice, as such solutions require JavaScript tags, which could slow down their site, leak PII without their knowledge, and force them to edit the current look of the page/app.

Alternatively, they estimated that building it entirely in-house would take a year, which was beyond the ideal time frame. Because of this, they partnered with Kevel, whose ad serving APIs made it easy to build the platform they wanted in weeks.

What Ticketmaster Built

The internal promotions platform Ticketmaster built involved only backend changes. To the user, the layout of the page and app stayed the same, and the event listings looked and behaved like they did before.

Behind the scenes, though, they now had an easy way to automate what event listings appeared - as well as optimization tools that ensured only the most relevant and popular listings would be promoted.

ticketmaster ads

Ticketmaster's Marketing team could now upload events into a UI (without needing Engineering), set targeting and budgeting rules, have the decision engine select the right events to show at the right time, and then see reporting on impressions, clicks, and more.

For instance, they can now:

  1. Easily target events to specific category pages. This improves relevance so that only, say, sporting events appeared in the Sports subcategory page
  2. Offer special packages to select artists and event organizers - such as a specific number of free promotion impressions for signing with Ticketmaster - and manage reporting/delivery
  3. Set up campaigns that turn on and off automatically based on when the event happens
  4. Use revenue optimization tools that'll automatically select the promotion most likely to be clicked-on and lead to sales
  5. Track the click and purchase performance of each event listing
  6. Employ other targeting tactics like geography, frequency capping, day-of-week, and so on
By incorporating automated optimization tools, Ticketmaster can ensure that an unpopular event doesn't get promoted over one that's selling better - thereby driving more overall sales.
"We built the exact internal promotions platform we wanted thanks to the vision of our internal team, our engineers, and Kevel's tools."
David Han, VP of Product

The results

Ticketmaster saw positive results immediately upon launching:

Engagement rates Click-through-rates and revenue increased substantially thanks to the optimization algorithm - as high as 600% on some category pages
Set-up times Marketing didn't need to involve Engineering - leading to a 75% reduction in campaign set-up times (and less internal friction)
Launch date Using Kevel they released this product in just weeks - letting them launch 9x faster than if they had tried to do it entirely by themselves
"This new system allowed us to automate what events were displayed, which made launching campaigns easier and increased CTRs by as much as 600%."
David Han, VP of Product

Takeaways from Ticketmaster's Internal Promotions Platform

Ticketmaster's results highlight the importance of automating and optimizing what content gets shown on your app or site. If you're swapping out content manually, showing the same promotions regardless of a user's geolocation/past behavior/etc, and/or not using an algorithm to decide what content will drive the most engagement, then there's an opportunity for you to likewise build your own platform for serving in-house ads or internal content.

For instance, some example use cases include:

  1. eCommerce brands building their own native "You May Also Like" product page suggestions
  2. SaaS platforms promoting webinars/new blog articles/etc within their dashboard to drive upsells
  3. Travel sites serving tailored getaways and bundles to the right users
  4. Banking and financial services placing credit card, loan, or account offers
  5. Any brand that has a homepage or category pages that highlight specific content/products/listings

Have you built your own internal promotions platform? We'd love to hear from you!

Chris Shuptrine
Chris Shuptrine

Chris has worked in ad tech for over fourteen years in a variety of roles - giving him customer support, PM, and marketing perspectives from both the advertiser and publisher sides. He's the VP of Marketing at Kevel.