Leadership / 04.23.19
Who Owns the Data After a Ticket Sale?
In the ticket-buying realm, the question of who owns customer data can loom large, especially whenever a report of a major data breach in another industry or accusations of improper data usage by some entity makes headline news. To a certain degree, consumers can choose what data to share and what to keep private. But, once a ticket transaction is complete and the data is shared, other entities must take responsibility for it.
Patrick W. Ryan, co-founder of Eventellect, is no stranger to data collection. His company helps professional sports teams, college teams and content right holders better leverage the secondary ticketing market.
"We have a proprietary distribution platform where we are able to access any ticketing website on Google," Ryan said. "So, we're basically getting ticketing inventory in front of consumers wherever they are. And then we have a proprietary pricing software system that ensures we have the right inventory broadcast on the right channels at the right price."
Having last year handled around 6 million tickets for $300 million of revenue, Ryan and his colleagues clearly have access to a lot of consumer data. "But we don't use it," he assured, "because we're not in the business of selling directly to consumers. You take one of our NBA partners who uses mobile ticketing. Let's just say they are a Ticketmaster team, and they're using Ticketmaster Mobile. We post that inventory on StubHub. Then the fan chooses Section 110, Row 8, Seats 3 and 4 for $100. The fan buys the tickets. We then get, through our API system, a notification from StubHub that those tickets have sold. From the API, we get the customer's name and address. Then, via an integration, we tell Ticketmaster's system to transfer those tickets to that person."
He continued, "Sometimes there are fees associated with doing that. But basically, the fan bought the tickets on StubHub, so StubHub has their information. We were the original ticket holder of record, so we also have the person's information and made the transfer. Ticketmaster got the information, because they're the platform that hosts the mobile ticket. And then, finally, the team got the consumer's data because they have the rights to all of the transfer and sales information. So, there are four entities seeing that customer data."
Ryan, though, cautions against underestimating the sophistication and savviness of most of today's increasingly connected and plugged-in customers. He notes that there are many buyers who purchase lots of tickets in lots of different places.
"These very active online shoppers understand a couple of things," Ryan said. "One is the terms and conditions often make you agree to receiving future marketing messages. But these very active users also understand how ultimately easy it is to opt out of those marketing messages. So, for many millions of customers, ‘who owns the data’ is sort of a non-issue. They just understand that that's the way buying on the internet works. If you want to buy something, you have to agree to certain terms."
Of course, there are those customers who don't buy a lot of tickets. They just go to one or two games or concerts or ticketed events a year. These are the people who might get confused when StubHub reaches out to them with e-marketing that says, "Hey, you attended this game on Tuesday. Are you interested in attending another game next Thursday?" According to Ryan, "The customer should understand the logic of that communication. But sometimes the consumer mistakenly thinks they suddenly have a relationship with the team. I think the tone of those messages is very important. It's important for all entities to be very direct and very clear where they got the information from."
Ryan further notes that what many in the general public don't realize is the very high burden of having all that customer data on your system. The FTC fines for inappropriately reaching out to someone are very high.
"The FTC makes it very clear that if our system gets hacked and someone gets spammed or someone's data gets breached, it's our problem,” Ryan said. “We've invested a lot of money and we have an insurance policy because we understand how severe it is. We take this very seriously, but I don't know if ‘Joe Average Ticket Broker’ and ‘Jane Average Fan’ really understand these consequences.”
Ryan added that consumers should also understand that their credit card data is exceptionally safe with the StubHubs, Ticketmasters, Vivid Seats and SeatGeeks of the world.
"The reason their credit card information is so safe is that the fines for those types of data breaches are so high. Also, if you opt out of a marketing message and you get it again, you have a right to complain about that. There are laws protecting you. I don't think there are more protections on the horizon. I just think there needs to be better communication and messaging regarding the protections already in place."
As is the case in brick-and-mortar retail so often, it's still a matter of "Let the buyer beware." After all, the secondary market continues to grow at an exponential rate.
"Websites, whether it's StubHub or SeatGeek or Ticketmaster Resale, know that they are really not resale sites,” Ryan concluded. “They're really just stores — stores where certain people like to buy merchandise … in this case, tickets."
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Tags: Ticketmaster , Reselling , Regulations , StubHub , Secondary Ticketing