Ticketmaster automates their internal promotions platform with Adzerk


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

ticketmaster ads
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. To speed up the process, they incorporated Adzerk's ad serving APIs to power the delivery, optimization, and reporting of the product.

"Before Adzerk, the events promoted on our site were manually-managed and lacked real-time optimizations. Adzerk's APIs enabled us to automate the process, which made launching campaigns easier and increased CTRs by as much as 600%."
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 maintain the user experience and visual layout of the 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 contacted Adzerk, whose ad serving APIs made it easy to build the exact platform they wanted in just weeks.

What Ticketmaster Built

After integrating Adzerk's APIs into their mobile and web applications, Ticketmaster quickly built an internal promotions platform.

With this product, Ticketmaster maintained the user experience - so the event listings looked the exact same to their users. 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 ads

Ticketmaster does continue to show programmatic ads (such as the Geico one above), which are served by a separate ad server. Their native event listings, however, are powered by Adzerk.

Ticketmaster's Marketing team can now upload events into Adzerk's UI, set targeting and budgeting rules, have Adzerk's 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 improved 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 through Adzerk
  3. Set up campaigns that turn on and off automatically based on event dates
  4. Use revenue optimization tools that'll automatically select the promotion most likely to lead to clicks and 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.

"With Adzerk, we built the exact internal promotions platform we wanted. No other solution could provide this flexibility."
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 They released this product in just weeks - letting them launch 9x faster than if they had tried to do it entirely by themselves
  1. Engagement Rates - Click-through-rates and revenue increased substantially thanks to the optimization algorithm - as high as 600% on some category pages.
  2. Set-up times - Marketing didn't need to involve Engineering - leading to a 75% reduction in campaign set-up times (and less internal friction).
  3. Launch Date - They released this product in just weeks - letting them launch 9x faster than if they had tried to do it entirely by themselves.

How Adzerk Helped

As the market leader in ad serving APIs, Adzerk's tools made it easy for Ticketmaster to build the exact event promotions platform they wanted. Ticketmaster took advantage of these specific Adzerk features and benefits to design the product:

  1. Adzerk's Decision API - this API enables Ticketmaster to request ads server-side and then get details about the winning promotions to place in JSON, such as the image URL, click URL, meta information like event name and date, and more.

    For instance, below is an illustrative example of what an automated API request from Ticketmaster to Adzerk could contain upon a page load. Here they are asking Adzerk what event to display as the large promotion on the Sports subcategory page.

    ticketmaster ads
    ticketmaster ads

    After sending this, Ticketmaster gets a response in JSON containing details about the event to display. They then set up automation that takes this information and inserts it directly into their dynamic app and web clients. This allows them to keep the CSS and user experience the same, so that the Adzerk-powered promotions looked like they did before using Adzerk.

    Below is an example of the type of information returned in the JSON response, which contains data they can place into their apps - such as the image URL, the name of the event, and the short tagline.

    ticketmaster ads
    ticketmaster ads

  2. Adzerk's Decision Engine is scalable, fast, and always picks the right promotion to show. It's easily the leading solution in the market."
    David Han, VP of Product

  3. Fast responses - Since ads are requested server-side - not through page-slowing JavaScript tags - Ticketmaster can place this content without any delays. Adzerk's tools can respond in as quickly as 50ms - an order of magnitude faster than most tags.
  4. Malware-free and privacy-law-compliant tools - By not using client-side (on-page/in-app) code, Ticketmaster ensures Adzerk can't insert malware or drop cookies that could leak user PII. Plus, as Adzerk is GDPR-, CCPA-, and LGPD-compliant (as well as other laws) by default, they didn't have to worry about building their own compliance software.
  5. Revenue optimization algorithm - Before Adzerk, the promotions on each page were manually-managed and rotated without data points on what was performing well. With Adzerk, Ticketmaster can now upload an unlimited number of artists to vie for a single placement and then have Adzerk's Decision Engine automatically select the event listing that would drive the most sales if promoted. By taking these steps, Ticketmaster saw huge improvements in the click-through-rates of their listings, in some cases as high as 600%.
  6. Privacy-first, cookie-free, high-revenue targeting - Adzerk's robust targeting tools - including custom targeting, keyword targeting, and the proprietary targeting language Zerkel - let brands easily tailor content based on intent and context - neither of which require PII or cookies to serve high-value ads.

By using Adzerk to launch in weeks instead of years, Ticketmaster quickly built an internal promotions platform that improved relevance for their users while driving more revenue.

Interested in learning more?

If you're interested in building your own internal promotions platform or sponsored listings product, please feel free to reach out, and we'll set up a free demo.

"Adzerk is a great partner, and we recommend them to anyone building a custom ad server."
Chief Digital Officer, Bed Bath & Beyond

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